Gething uses Covid press conference to blast ‘needless confrontation’ by UK Government
Economy minister Vaughan Gething has used today’s Covid meeting in order to blast the UK Government’s “needless confrontation” on so-called ‘levelling up’ funding in Wales.
He said that less money being made available to the Welsh Government would impact the post-pandemic economic recovery in Wales.
“As we look ahead, it is deeply troubling that the Welsh business support funding and services that have been so critical to our response face threats,” he said.
“This is the real world impact of the UK Government’s determination to make all of the decisions on post EU funding for Wales.”
He added that Wales should be getting at least £375m per year in EU replacement funding and that was the “very least required to ensure that Wales is not a penny worse off”.
“The UK Government’s plans mean a funding cut and centralise decisions in Whitehall,” he said. “This would end over 20 years of Welsh decision making on support for Welsh communities and businesses.
“This funding is the foundation of many of the support services that businesses have turned to in this emergency. It does not have to be this way.
“The UK Government could end this needless confrontation, respect Welsh devolution and call off these plans. They could end this argument today by guaranteeing that these funds will be provided for Wales with decisions on their use to be taken in Wales.
“The people of Wales decided in successive referenda and multiple elections where these decisions should be made. The people of Wales have not provided a mandate for the UK Government to wrestle money and decisions out of Wales.
“Funding certainty will allow us to support a strong Welsh recovery, tailored to Wales’ needs. The UK government’s plans are direct threat to this work.”
‘Do the right thing’
Moving on to the Covid restrictions, he said that the First Minister will confirm whether Wales can move fully to Alert Level 1 on Friday which is when he will get the latest figures.
Public Health Wales has confirmed the numbers of Delta variant have increased to 315. This is a rise of 131 cases since the last update given on 10 June.
However, he added that “the Delta variant has taken off much more in England and Scotland than here”.
He said that if opening up was against the advice of their health experts it would be the wrong decision for businesses as well.
“Doing the right thing for public health is doing the right thing for businesses too,” he said.
He added that the First Minister had not yet been told what was going to happen in England but that the delay to reopening there had been “well-trailed”.
They had always followed the evidence and have never taken a “punt” on an outcome, and therefore didn’t have to make u-turns. They had not shied away from “difficult things to do,” he said.