Levelling up budget ‘a great let down for Wales’
Plaid Cymru have said that Westminster has not followed through with a promise to ‘level up’ the nations of the UK despite an extra £360 million to the Welsh Government in today’s budget.
Leader Adam Price said the budget for the Welsh Government will still be lower in real terms than it was a 10 years ago, saying: “Although packaged as the great levelling up, this Budget is a great let down for Wales”.
Despite a £170bn capital investment programme, the Welsh Government’s capital budget will only increase by £100million next year compared to over a billion in Scotland.
This is only a tenth of what Wales should expect based on a simple population share, Plaid Cymru said. In capital terms this means Wales would only get £1 for every £10 pounds received by Scotland or for every £10 spent per head across the whole of the UK.
However, Paul Davies, the Leader of The Welsh Conservative, said it was a “bold budget” and “exactly what the country needs”.
“It is pragmatic, and sensible for the people and businesses of Wales, and the United Kingdom as a whole,” he said.
Measures outlined that will effect Wales include:
- Increasing the Welsh Government’s Budget by £360 million through to 2020-21
- Providing £55 million for a Mid-Wales Growth Deal
- Retaining tax relief on red diesel for the agricultural sector
- Increasing the National Living Wage by 6.2 per cent to £8.72 from April
- Axing the ‘Tampon Tax’
- Retaining the freeze on fuel duty
- Raising the National Insurance threshold from £8,632 to £9,500
Following the Budget, Adam Price AM said that the Conservatives had presided over a lost decade of stuttering growth, woeful wages and costly cuts.
“But the slash and cut Tories still can’t bring themselves to do the right thing – funding for our devolved government is still going to be lower than it was ten years ago,” he said.
“With the Coronavirus crisis, coupled with the ongoing uncertainty of EU-UK trade negotiations and the fallout of the devastating floods, the economy and our public services have been stripped of its resilience to cope with such issues.
“They have now been forced to put a sticking plaster over an ailing economy, that has been on life-support for years.
“Although packaged as the great levelling up, this Budget is a great let down for Wales. Baking in the unfairness, in capital terms, Wales is set to only get £1 for every £10 pounds received by Scotland or for every £10 spent per head across the whole of the UK next year.
“This Budget is an explicit acceptance of the damage done by a decade of Tory economic ideology, but It doesn’t look like they plan on fixing it anytime soon for our nation.”
Paul Davies said that he was “especially pleased” with the freezing of red-diesel tax relief raising the NI threshold, which he said would benefit many people in Wales.
“But let me be clear: because of the Welsh Labour administration in Wales, our friends on the other side of the Severn Crossings are going to benefit in ways we will not,” he said.
“For example, smaller businesses in England will gain – in a bid to offset some of the likely fallout from Coronavirus – from the UK Government’s commitment to abolish business rates for SMEs for this year.
“While this Budget has a clear and achievable intent to get it done, here in devolved Wales, we have to rely on a failing Welsh Labour administration that has failed for two decades to get anything done.
”It will take a Welsh Conservative Government in Wales, working with a Conservative UK Government, to level up all of the UK and to succeed in getting it done.”