MS says Wales’ economic prospects are being damaged by UK Government ‘hostility’
Former Economy Minister Ken Skates has warned that Wales’ economic prospects are being hampered by a lack of cooperation from a floundering UK Government.
A recently published report by the Senedd’s cross-party Economy, Trade and Rural Affairs Committee said Westminster should stop shunning the Welsh Government and include it in the running of the Shared Prosperity and Levelling Up funds, which were launched as part of the UK Government’s now-broken promise that Wales would not be a penny worse off after Brexit.
Mr Skates’ successor, Vaughan Gething, said last week that he had been ‘met with indifference, and, in some areas, outright hostility’ by his Conservative counterparts since taking on the role.
The Clwyd South MS Mr Skates asked the Minister how the Welsh Government is working with the UK Government to deliver post-Brexit regional aid programmes.
In response, he said: “Despite these programmes operating in devolved areas, the Welsh Government was denied a meaningful role in their design and implementation by the UK Government. We are working with our stakeholders in Wales to minimise the impact of what is now a fragmented and vastly reduced funding landscape.”
Mr Skates added: “I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who was extremely concerned to read the recent Senedd committee report that stated that Wales’s future economic success will be jeopardised if the UK Government doesn’t engage with and work with the Welsh Government.
“The UK Government’s so-called levelling-up process has left Wales with less say over crucial funds, and it’s also undermined, as you said, the devolution settlement by centralising decisions in Westminster. We’re now more than £1bn worse off as a result of the UK Government’s failure to meet its promise to replace previous EU funds in full.
“Minister, would you be able to tell the Senedd whether you find the UK Government any more co-operative today than when you became Economy Minister in 2021?”
Mr Gething replied: “The picture is varied. In some areas, we have reached pragmatic conclusions where we’ve been able to strike agreement. However, in others, we’ve been met with indifference, and, in some areas, outright hostility.
“In seeking to have a fight, and not to seek an answer, we will end up with poor value for public money and we will, as the Senedd committee has said, jeopardise the economic future for Wales.
“We have always recognised that there is an area for us to co-operate and take pragmatic choices with the UK Government. What we won’t do, though, is to willingly accept a future determined by the UK Government in areas that are devolved to the Welsh Government, and to this Senedd, and we’ll continue to stand up and make the case that Wales should have not been left over £1bn short.”
He concluded: “The Conservative manifesto should not have been breached in the flagrant way it has been. We’ll continue to stand up for Wales and argue for a better future that I believe will come if there is a UK Labour Government after the next election.”
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