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News in brief: Conservatives turn fire on Welsh government over ‘new era of austerity’ claim

05 Aug 2021 6 minutes Read
Paul Davies. © Russell Hart/Alamy Live News.

Conservative Shadow Economy Minister, Paul Davies MS, has slammed the Welsh Government following criticism of the level of funding being made available to replace EU grants by Westminster.

After Brexit, Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged to match any funding shortfall to the devolved nations, however full details of how the Shared Prosperity Fund will replace EU support are yet to be agreed and the share Wales will receive from the £220m Community Renewal Fund will be considerably less than the minimum of £375m which would have been received from the EU from January this year.

Earlier this week Finance Minister Vaughan Gething warned Wales, “is heading towards a new era of austerity” after losing EU support because of Brexit, in an interview with the Financial Times – sparking the angry response from the Tories in the Senedd.

‘Anti-Brexit playbook’

Describing the minister’s comments as a return “to the worn-out anti-Brexit playbook”, Mr Davies turned his fire on successive Labour Governments and accused them of financial mismanagement.

“The Minister knows full-well that the current funding stream from the UK Government is a pilot before the full launch of the scheme where funding levels for Wales have been guaranteed to be at least as much as when we were in the EU,” he said.

“Since 2000, Wales qualified on three separate occasions for the highest level of EU structural funds, which totalled over £4bn. We continued to get large sums of aid because Labour failed to put it to good use and deliver lasting improvements.

“What Labour has delivered in government for Wales is the lowest take-home pay in the UK, the least productive economy, and some of the highest levels of deprivation in Europe. That’s austere.”

Photo by danielfoster437 is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Cases of the Covid Delta variant increase by over 20% in the last week

The number of people infected by the Delta Covid variant has increased by 21% in the last week according to the latest figures released by Public Health Wales.

Over the seven days to Tuesday 2,006 new cases of the variant were detected, taking the total number of cases in Wales since May to 11,471.

Betsi Cadwaladr is the worst affected health board in the country, with 856 new cases taking the total there to 4,452 – 39% of all cases identified in Wales so far.

Meanwhile, PHW has confirmed three further deaths due to Covid and 681 new cases of the virus in the last 24 hours.

Two of the newly recorded deaths were in the Aneurin Bevan health board area and the other was in Swansea Bay, taking the total number of deaths in Wales since the start of the pandemic to 5,623.

Cardiff (68) posted the highest number of new cases since Wednesday’s update followed by Wrexham (55) and Swansea (46).

The weekly case rate has continued to fall and currently stands at 133.4 per 100,000 people, down from 136.3 yesterday.

The case rate in Denbighshire remains the highest in the country but is down from 359.5 to 356.3 since yesterday.

Picture by Cwmcafit (CC BY-SA 4.0).

Plaid renews calls for Wales specific Covid inquiry

Plaid Cymru has renewed its call for a Wales-specific public inquiry into the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Welsh Government has rejected pressure from both Plaid and the Welsh Conservatives calls for a specifically Welsh probe and is instead backing a UK-wide inquiry which is due to get underway next spring, according to Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

“The loss of life, as well as the loss of freedoms, of education, and a deep economic impact will weigh heavy on us for years to come. We’ll need to look at what happened in detail, and in public, to learns lessons for the future,” Plaid Cymru’s spokesperson for health and care, Rhun ap Iorwerth MS said.

“But with so many of the relevant policy areas devolved, and so many decisions having been taken in Wales, we need a Wales-specific inquiry.

“Government has to take responsibility for its actions – good and bad, and there should be no avoidance of detailed scrutiny.

“In rejecting the demand for a Wales-specific public inquiry, the Welsh Labour Government is essentially agreeing to the Prime Minister’s delay and confirming that they’re happy for Wales to be a chapter in the deferred UK inquiry. The people of Wales are owed more than that.”

Last year a grant from the scheme was used to create a link and interpretation pathway between Cilgerran Castle and the River Teifi. Photo john_J_Hudson is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Second round of grants to help communities celebrate their local heritage unveiled

Cadw, the Welsh Government’s historic environment service and the Heritage Fund in Wales are teaming up to offer grants of between £3,000 and £10,000 to enable communities across the country to celebrate their local heritage.

The funding is being made available under the’15-Minute Heritage’ programme, which is based on a concept called the 15 minute city, where everyone should be able to meet most of their needs within just a short walk or cycle from their home.

The aim of the capital grant programme is to support projects that help to connect communities with the heritage on their doorstep so that local people can benefit from it and it can fund the buying of, upgrading and maintaining of equipment; furnishings; fixtures; land and buildings and also digital projects such as creating apps or websites.

In 2020, the first year of the scheme, 84 projects in each of Wales’ 22 local authority areas received a “15-Minute Heritage”grant.

Launching the second round of funding, Deputy Minister for Arts and Sport Dawn Bowden said:

“In Wales we are surrounded by heritage, not just in our museums, castles and historic structures, but in anything that inspires a sense of belonging.

“Whether it’s through empowering volunteers with new skills, enabling people to engage with their local heritage in new and accessible ways, or providing opportunities for groups and individuals who are sometimes harder to reach, each successful project will deliver benefits to communities nationwide.

“That’s why I’m so very pleased that Cadw is once again collaborating with the Heritage Fund to help communities explore, celebrate and share their local heritage stories.”

Details about how to apply for a ’15-Minute Heritage’ grant are available here. 

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GW Atkinson
GW Atkinson
1 month ago

How about the English tories stick to what they promised instead of attacking people for showing them up as the liars they truly are? They said the funding wouldn’t change, it has so they lied. There is zero defence for this. They are liars.

j humphrys
j humphrys
1 month ago
Reply to  GW Atkinson

The Welsh Gov. having survived these last 7 months on little to nothing, should consider putting it to the our people that they be taxed where they live?
See your chances, and take them.

Kerry Davies
Kerry Davies
1 month ago

Meanwhile former Brexit minister and self-styled “hard man of Brexit”, Steve Baker, has decided that “Brexit is a political fiasco”.
Someone should tell Paul Davies before he gammons himself to a coronary.

Quornby
Quornby
1 month ago

Confronted by truth Johnson yes-man stamps his foot. Regarding the Brexit fiasco half the Welsh people saw right through the barmy right agenda and the other half of us were victims of fraud. Mr Davies can prove me wrong by getting his London boss to stump up the shortfall in funding….. until then he’d do well to keep his mouth shut.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago
Reply to  Quornby

I am minded of the Bob Dylan song Idiot Wind…every time you move your mouth…

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

I did not mean you Quornby rather any Boris Parrot

Last edited 1 month ago by Mab Meirion
Shan Morgain
1 month ago

the worn-out anti-Brexit playbook

Saying it doesn’t make it true. We are now going into serious food shortages (empty shelves) which will last into next year maybe longer. Which was predicted. Just one example of why that “playbook” is far from “worn-out” .

Steve Duggan
Steve Duggan
1 month ago

The Tories are a joke – blaming a Welsh Government with one hand tied behind it’s back and only being in existence for just over 20 years when we’ve had Westminster neglect and mismanagement for centuries. Who is to blame for the state Wales is in ? Westminster and in particular the Tories – we all know this. There will be a reduction in the money Wales gets and there will be austerity and more poverty as a result – we all know this too ! Time to get out.

j humphrys
j humphrys
1 month ago

Funding for Wales by the EU was 680 million pounds, not including farm subsidies or Regional Development Aid. The Tories promised that, after Brexit, the EU’s 680 million would be matched by UK Gov. Seven months after Brexit, this funding stands at……….zero! When they finally release funds, it will amount to 200 million pounds per year, or 800 million over four years. But this will be shared between all three devolved nations. So, the UK Gov. is offering one quarter of the sum Wales recieved from the EU, to be shared between N.Ireland, Scotland and Wales. So much for UK… Read more »

Beth B'Hoona
Beth B'Hoona
1 month ago
Reply to  j humphrys

Again. This is a pilot. Wales will get its share and more.

However, we are in the middle of a major humanitarian crisis, so I daresay structural funds are priority 1.1 across the world

Why is it always “give us more, UK” on here.

What are the nationalists putting into the UK?

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
1 month ago
Reply to  Beth B'Hoona

Absolute rubbish! The same ilk said Welsh devolution would be respected. In today’s Tory idiocracy imposition is the norm. If Wales were female Whitehall would be charged with rape.

Let me remind you that Wales has put into the British coffers far more than it’s ever received back. The trillions in coal revenue lost to Whitehall and its fiscal opportunists. The millions of tons of Slate robbed from Gwynedd. Gold extracted from mines in West & North Wales by the Crown Estate.. Your ignorant attitude makes my blood boil!

Last edited 1 month ago by Y Cymro
Beth N"Hoona
Beth N"Hoona
1 month ago
Reply to  Y Cymro

Coal revenue went to the Welsh mine owners and paid the people working there.

Then for around 100 years made a loss and was subsidised.

Same across the Western world.

j humphrys
j humphrys
1 month ago
Reply to  Beth B'Hoona

You are right, and that “major humanitarian crisis” is Bojo’s Tories in power.

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
1 month ago

Tory failure Paul Davies forgets this fact. His party promised that our Block would stay at EU levels, in fact , Wales would receive more money if we voted for Brexit. One David Davies, MP for Monmouth said so in a 2016 BBC online interview about the positives of leaving the EU. Also, wasn’t it the same Paul Davies who said once, ” if I become First Minister, I promise not tread on Westminster’s turf and respect what is not devolved.” Hmmm…. Yes, quite. And what did his English masters do to Wales when Boris Johnson became PM? He hijacked… Read more »

Beth N"Hoona
Beth N"Hoona
1 month ago
Reply to  Y Cymro

Wales is in the Union.

All of the population except for a minority of hateful wackos wants it to be there.

Fly the flag for a prosperous Wales!

Floreat Regina!

j humphrys
j humphrys
1 month ago
Reply to  Beth N"Hoona

We’ll fly OUR flag for freedom from Tory Dickensian Scroogedom!

Steve Duggan
Steve Duggan
1 month ago
Reply to  Beth N"Hoona

If you believe the Union is so good for Wales – prove it ! Show us some evidence, show us our language and culture is safe, show us we will get all the money the EU once gave us, show us how HS2 will benefit Wales, show us how the Tories invested in the Valleys once the mines were closed, show us how the UK Gov will ‘level up’ in Wales. Just show us how the Union benefits Wales now. Do that rather than calling people names.

Owain Morgan
Owain Morgan
1 month ago

So, essentially, Selfish bar steward yells at Welsh Government for telling the truth. Claptrapocracy in top gear then 🙄😒 Next!

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