Page last updated at 12:53 GMT, Thursday, 16 October 2008 13:53 UK

Building boosted to help economy

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Florist Nicola Downie has diversified into selling fruit and vegetables to keep her business alive.

Building programmes could be brought forward to boost the Welsh economy amid the global financial crisis.

Other measures include more support for businesses threatened by bankruptcy and the creation of a forum for the banking and financial sector in Wales.

They were among the conclusions after politicians met business and union leaders in a Welsh economic summit.

First Minister Rhodri Morgan said the summit was "remarkable" and showed Wales was "stepping up to the plate".

Deputy First Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones and Welsh Secretary Paul Murphy were also at the summit in the Welsh assembly in Cardiff.

Mr Murphy said the summit was "unique" and an example to the rest of the UK and Mr Jones said it showed how quickly devolved administrations could react to global economic events.

The all-Wales economic summit was called to assess the impact of the global financial crisis

In a statement they agreed:

  • close co-operation at the UK level and with administrations in Scotland and Northern Ireland;
  • the creation of a forum for the banking and financial sector in Wales to provide more support for Welsh businesses;
  • to speed up the way goods and services in the private sector are bought by public bodies;
  • to bring forward assembly government building programmes to benefit construction companies;
  • more support for businesses and workers threatened with redundancy;
  • examination of European Union funding to ensure maximum impact.

Martin Mansfield, general secretary of Wales TUC, who was at the summit, said: "We would like to see action, not just quarterly meetings of the summit.

"We are asking them to bring forward investment in infrastructure and spend more on procurement within Wales."

Kevin Chidwick, finance director of insurance firm Admiral, said he was concerned to boost the size and skill of the workforce in south Wales.

"Measures agreed here may be important in creating employment and that is good for us," he said.

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Mr Morgan said: "There may be issues to do with tweaking every programme we have got and re-scheduling programmes so that Wales is in good shape ready for the upturn.

"There could be tough conditions ahead this winter and maybe for the whole of 2009."
Mr Morgan and Mr Murphy published a document focusing on the economy in Wales outlining measures already in place to help businesses.

These range from schemes to help firms save money installing energy saving equipment to grants encouraging overseas investment into Wales.

Mr Murphy left the summit to attend the Prime Minister Gordon Brown's National Economic Committee, which is meeting bi-weekly.

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The assembly government has said it will use all economic levers under its control to protect businesses and jobs.

The assembly government has allocated more than 290m within its recent draft budget to fund the Flexible Support for Business programme which will ease access to its funding.

It also recently introduced a 7m rate relief package to help smaller businesses.

Mr Jones said his department was looking at how the land it owns across Wales could be dedicated to the building of new affordable housing.

Mr Jones also urged companies to contact Finance Wales, which puts funding and investment into small and medium-sized businesses.

Later Social Justice and Local Government Minister Brian Gibbons will announce plans to give people in all parts of Wales access to a credit union.

Credit unions operate by members saving into a common fund which is then used to make low-interest loans to other members.

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