Conservative MP accuses Welsh Government of focusing funding on Labour supporting areas
A Conservative MP has accused the Welsh Government of focusing their funding on Labour-supporting parts of Wales.
Brecon and Radnorshire MP Fay Jones said that investment had been directed at cities and valleys in the south-west of the country.
Speaking in the House of Commons, she said that her rural constituency in mid-Wales had almost no public transport, schools were closing, broadband was slow and council tax was higher because money had been spent elsewhere.
“The cost of living is hitting hard in Brecon and Radnorshire, but that is on top of other pressures that are ignored by the Labour Government in Cardiff,” she said.
“We have next to no public transport, so we are forced to drive everywhere in cars powered by ever more expensive fuel.
“Our broadband is slow on a good day, because funding is targeted at densely populated and, curiously, Labour-voting areas.
“Our schools have to close and our council tax is higher because our local authority has been given one of the lowest budget allocations in Wales for the last 10 years.
“If only we could have the level of investment and support that has been directed at the cities and the south Wales valleys, household bills in rural areas such as Brecon and Radnorshire would be lower.”
She was responding to a Labour motion calling on the UK Government to cut the rate of VAT for household energy bills as soon as possible. Rejecting the motion, she said that it was “designed to do nothing more than construct a misleading trope for social media”.
The Welsh Government published its provisional local government settlement for 2022-23 last month, in which Powys, which includes Brecon and Radnorshire, was given a 9.5% funding rise. The average was 9.4%, with Monmouthshire receiving a 11.2% rise and Blaenau Gwent receiving the lowest at 8.4%.
In 2021-22, Powys received a 4.0% compared to an average of 3.8%. Neighbouring Ceredigion received the lowest at 2.0% and Newport the highest at 5.6%.
Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney MP Gerald Jones spoke in favour of the motion to cut VAT for household energy bills, saying that families in his constituency “face a bleak start to the new year”.
“The Welsh Labour Government have already announced a £38 million winter fuel support scheme that directly supports families to cover their energy costs and keep their homes warm this winter,” he said.
“That demonstrates the Welsh Government’s willingness to offer support to those most in need. The Welsh Government never shied away from trying to support families through the crisis. We now need the UK Government, with all their financial clout, to step up to the plate and deliver for those who need it most at this most difficult time.
“I urge all Members, particularly those on the Conservative Benches, to do the decent thing and support the Opposition motion.”
Arfon MP said that it was a “plain fact” that energy prices would rise enormously.
“The question is, of course, what we do about that and about the long-term cost of living crisis, which predates the pandemic, and particularly child poverty, which has been tragically high and indeed endemic in Wales for decades, since the deliberate destruction of our heavy industry for political reasons over 40 years ago and the neglect of manufacturing, all leading to chronic, deep poverty.
He added that the £20 cut in Universal Credit had ” pushed 275,000 Welsh families even further into poverty”.
“The Government say that work is the answer to poverty. Forty per cent. of Welsh households claiming universal credit are already in work, and many are key workers, so the £20 uplift should be reinstated and extended to those on legacy benefits,” he said.
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