ABERCONWY MS Janet Finch-Saunders has urged the Welsh Government to provide clarity on whether the money set aside for the £35 million fund for relaunch, develop, decarbonisation, and growth will still be available for eligible businesses.

According to a press release at the time of launch, the funding sought to support more than 1,000 businesses, help to create 2,000 new jobs and safeguard a further 4,000 jobs.

The £35m SME funding was supposed to open for applications in November, to be made direct to local authorities.

However, in a Written Question reply from the Welsh Government’s minister for economy, it was confirmed that the fund has “now been paused due to the need for businesses, local authorities and the Welsh Government to respond to Omicron and new public health protections.”

Mrs Finch-Saunders said: “Eligible businesses across Wales who had taken the time to identify ways in which the proposed investment could help them develop their business in innovative new ways and support new jobs will rightly be questioning how long the present pause will be in place.

“We urgently need clarity from the Welsh Government as to whether this £35m fund has been ring-fenced to support business development and our green recovery.

“Given that this fund sought to support businesses to tackle some of the major issues facing Wales, including addressing skills gaps in core sectors and tackling climate change, there is a concern that a lengthy pause could impact the nation’s quest to meet our legally binding Net Zero carbon emission target.

“If the funding pot has been plundered to assist with the present Omicron support schemes, I would urge the Welsh Government to look again at how it will assist businesses in their long-term redevelopment and decarbonisation plans.”