Rural organisations seek answers from Business Wales
The reputation of the “go to” and much respected arm of the Welsh Government “Business Wales”, is on the line after it was revealed they have withheld vital Economic Resilience Funding (ERF) from shoots in Wales.
Business Wales has come under strong scrutiny this week as shooting organisations collaborate to get to the bottom of a decision made which discriminates the lawful activity of game shooting, thus excluding them from the latest round of ERF funding. However, some shoots in Wales have previously been successful in applications for ERF funding which only adds to the confusion and highlights irregularities that have come to light in Business Wales.
In a letter of refusal Business Wales references their decision made on the basis that this particular legal activity “could bring the Welsh Government into disrepute”.
Liam Bell, Chairman of the National Gamekeepers Organisation (NGO), said: “There is a real lack of transparency in the way these Covid funding applications are being handled by Business Wales. This funding is crucial for all businesses in Wales who have been adversely affected by the Covid pandemic.”
Mr Bell added: “These businesses are legal and are people’s livelihoods. This funding should not be withheld without good reason.”
Rachel Evans, Director for Wales at the Countryside Alliance said: “to treat lawful businesses unequally under the law is to treat the owners of those business unequally before the law. Everyone has the right to be treated equally under the law. No lawful business could, or should, be considered as bringing the Welsh Government into disrepute. So long as something is lawful it should be treated the same as all other lawful activities.”
She added: “ Shooting is a £75million sector which offers an important economic lifeline in rural Wales and supports the equivalent of 2,400 full-time jobs, as well as a range of rural businesses.”
The Countryside Alliance, alongside the NGO, called a meeting inviting a number of shooting and farming interests, including the Country Land and Business Association (CLA Cymru), the British Game Alliance, the Game Farmers Association and the British Association for Shooting and Conservation.
The group of rural organisations have co-signed a joint letter, scrutinising Business Wales about their decision-making process and set out a list of questions asking why this application was refused funding.
A copy of that letter can be found here.
Dominic Boulton, spokesman for the Game Farmers’ Association said: “This appears to be a case of discrimination based on nothing more than personal prejudice against a lawful activity.”
He added: “Business Wales have some tough questions to answer.”
Liam Stokes, Chief Executive of the British Game Alliance added: "Welsh game meat is a fine product of which the Government should be proud. It is bizarre that civil servants have decided to cut off support to the rural producers of this top quality Welsh meat, and we hope a Minister will intervene and put this injustice right."