Business growth still a balancing act in Wales
Ten years after the global financial crash, it seems we’re still grappling with how to return to 2008 levels of prosperity. Some analysts go as far as to suggest it may never happen.
Wales has seen an almost negligible rise in household income. House prices, a staple economic indicator, remain below par. This is despite a record period of low interest rates making mortgages comparatively affordable.
Last week saw a clutch of retrospective articles on the collapse of the US investment bank Lehman Brothers – the bank that was reputedly “too big to fail”.
Earlier fore-warnings of doom had surfaced over here when the Northern Rock savings bank got into trouble. Many market gurus blamed the quasi-nationalised culture of the firm and described the need for government intervention as a “one-off”.
As we now know, much bigger and otherwise unthinkable bail-outs were to come
Reading the comments of Swansea-based Ian Price, director of CBI Wales, he’s right in his assessment that our corner of the world did not suffer the same impact as London due to less of a reliance on the financial sector.
Where things got tougher however was when it came time to pay the cost of actions taken to forestall financial meltdown. The austerity measures that slashed public spending continue to be felt more keenly here than in the south of England.
This is not just in terms of direct employment. Welsh firms are burdened by a legacy of coping with a downturn in capital projects and procurement which saw many going into ‘ticking over’ mode in the hope that things will pick up – Brexit notwithstanding.
Yet, as he says, we’re now seeing modest growth and it’s happening in some intriguing places.
I often make the point that one of our strengths in this region is our ability to diversify. I’m delighted to see this phenomenon in action yet again.
For example, it may interest you to know that two out of the only three Welsh firms recently named in the Sunday Times Tech Track 100 are based here at Bay Studios Business Park on Fabian Way.
You can get a taste of how this emerging expertise – and other ventures – are making a difference locally by coming along to the SA1 Waterfront Business Club event tomorrow at the Village hotel, Swansea from 12-2pm. Admission is free (and so is lunch).
Fraud scams on the increase
Today [Tues] sees a report warning that identity fraud is on the increase in Wales. According to prevention experts Cifas, there’s been a 14% rise in recent years.
This news follows figures from the Office of National Statistics that people in Wales reported losing £17.1 million to fraudsters from October 2017-March 2018.
It’s a frightening statistic but there are things you can do to protect yourself online
I received a genuine looking email from my bank the other day. It stated that my account had been locked, but when I let the cursor hover over the sender’s email address, it came up as “zapfaxfit.es” – meaning it was fraudulent and that clicking on anything would prove expensive.
Another trick used to con businesses is to send a modest invoice or payment query for fake services. Busy sole traders can end up inadvertently sharing bank card details and having their accounts emptied in minutes. So be warned.
For more information on how to detect fraud and avoid getting scammed, I recommended you visit https://www.cifas.org.uk/