Bonfire of business advisory groups?

How many different organisations do you think advise the Welsh Government on the economy?

When I started on this story, I guessed at around 20 or 30, but in fact it's nearly 50.

In a sense, this is a nice problem for ministers to have, after all what is the problem in having too much advice to choose from?

But maybe too much is a problem. There are some who say it leads to a situation where the government cannot see the wood from the trees, and the continuous supply of reports and assessments gets in the way of decision-making.

If the Economy Secretary Ken Skates was to meet with each one of the groups at least once a year, he would virtually have a weekly meeting in his diary.


There was a time when the Welsh Government was criticised for not having enough inter-action with the private sector. Not any more. In fact that accusation has been out of date for a number of years.

What kind of organisations are we talking about?

I don't have a definitive list but there are panels giving advice on individual sectors, enterprise zone boards, as well as a range of less well-known bodies like the Welsh Industrial Development Advisory Board. For the curious among you, this advises ministers on business grants.

Most of what the advice bodies do is behind-the-scenes and involves passing on information to ministers and civil servants.

But that is not everything. For example, a fortnight ago the chair of the body representing financial services in Wales gave a presentation to an insurance firm in England that could potentially create 500 jobs in Cardiff.


It is not often you hear anyone say they want less advice but that is what we had from Ken Skates at the Senedd when he told AMs he believes there are too many advisory boards and panels.

We can expect a new streamlined structure in the new year when he has decided on which parts of the economy he wants to prioritise.

One of the key questions will be whether he tries to do less than his predecessor Edwina Hart who expanded the list of supported sectors to nine, created eight enterprise zones across Wales and had an interventionist approach in the commercial property market.

It depends on whether he believes less is more, and that in turn will be the deciding factor in whether 2016 will see a bonfire of the business advisory groups.