Report sees workforce growth in nearly a third of businesses backed by Welsh Government Covid-19 support

Research and Partnership Manager
Business planning and strategy
Sustainability in business

A new report by Economic Intelligence Wales assessing the impact of the Welsh Government’s interventions through its Economic Resilience Fund (ERF) shows 30% of small businesses surveyed have seen their employee numbers grow since the pandemic – with nearly half predicting further growth in the next 12 months.

Jointly commissioned by Economic Intelligence Wales, the Development Bank of Wales and the Welsh Government, the report is the third in a series which evaluates the effectiveness of the resilience fund.

It examines data from the ERF5 through to ERF8, which delivered £54m and supported more than 65,800 jobs.

The research also incorporates analysis of an in-depth survey of more than 1,600 businesses who received support from ERF3 to ERF7. 

The report also provides an insight into the health and resilience of Welsh SMEs during post-pandemic economic shocks such as Brexit, inflationary pressures and the cost of living crisis – all of which have impacted their capacity to do business.

Some of the report’s findings include: 

  • 30% of respondents reported employee numbers had grown since the beginning of the pandemic 
  • 44% of respondents believed they will have more employees in the next 12 months  
  • 97% of businesses supported during phases ERF3 to ERF7 of funding were still trading at the time of the survey from February to May 2022 
  • 46% of respondents reported that they had developed new services or products in response to the Covid-19 pandemic  
  • 43% of respondents revealed that they invested in staff development 
  • 86% of respondents had received support from the UK Job Retention Scheme  
  • 89% of respondents agreed that Welsh Government assistance they received worked well in combination with other government support 

The full report is available here.

Minister for Economy, Vaughan Gething MS, said: “The series of reports produced by Economic Intelligence Wales demonstrates the impact of Welsh Government support during and following the Covid-19 pandemic. Focused support provided through the Economic Resilience Fund helped secure jobs and protect businesses during difficult times.

“I’m pleased to see businesses have not only gone on to employ more people since the pandemic, but many also believe they will see their employee numbers grow in the next 12 months.

“Despite continued economic setbacks following an unprecedented downturn, I’m glad to see the businesses we support have maintained cautious optimism and still see cause for growth despite difficult economic forecasts.”

Giles Thorley, Chief Executive of the Development Bank of Wales said: “The ongoing analysis of support provided by Welsh Government, and timely assessment of the health of those businesses supported during the pandemic, is hugely valuable at a time when many companies continue to face further economic uncertainty and difficult trading circumstances.”

“The report identifies the obvious benefits of the Economic Resilience Fund, showing how targeted support from Welsh Government had a strong, positive impact during such times – and we at the Development Bank of Wales will continue to work alongside all of our partners to back Welsh businesses.”

Max Munday from the Welsh Economy Research Unit at Cardiff Business School, one of the report’s authors said: “It has been encouraging to see the positive impacts of the Economic Resilience Fund on job creation and safeguarding, as well as on business resilience and survival.”

“However, a difficult new set of economic conditions now faces Welsh businesses, which we will explore through the final wave of survey work and will report on later this year.”  

The final bespoke report in this series will include analysis of a longitudinal survey of recipients of Welsh Government Covid-19 financial interventions, including a final wave of surveys which will be undertaken in the first half of 2023.