Plaid says co-operation agreement could do much more if finances weren’t governed by ‘out of touch’ Westminster
A Plaid Cymru Senedd Member has said that their co-operation agreement with the Labour Welsh Government could achieve much more if they weren’t hamstrung by being financed by an “out of touch” Conservative UK Government at Westminster.
Plaid’s finance spokesperson Llyr Gruffudd was speaking ahead of a Senedd debate on the Welsh Government’s final budget for 2022-23 today, the contents of which have been influenced by the party’s cooperation agreement with Welsh Labour.
Wales would be better off to the tune of around £3 billion had Wales’ budget increased in line with the size of the UK economy since 2010, he said. Instead, Wales has been left to “foot the bill” for costly projects like HS2 which are set to cost Wales £5bn.
“This is a budget that shows how working together can make a real difference to the lives of people and communities in every part of the country,” he said.
“From free school meals for all primary pupils to the extension of free childcare to all two-year-olds, to tackling the housing crisis and far, far more, thanks to the commitments that Plaid Cymru has secured as part of the Co-operation Agreement with the Welsh Government, this budget will create a Wales that is even greener, even fairer and even stronger.
“But let’s not forget that, while the settlement looks quite positive, the truth is that it is more challenging than it appears. While the first year will see real increases to public sector budgets, it’s a different story in following years, when public services will truly feel the squeeze.
“This is set against the fact that, had the budget increased in line with the size of the UK economy since 2010, then we would have had an additional £3 billion coming to us. Instead of that, and unlike Scotland and Northern Ireland, Wales has had to foot the bill for projects such as HS2, which is being built entirely outside of Wales and to the disadvantage of the Welsh economy.
“That is why Plaid Cymru will continue to make the case for more financial powers for Wales so that economic policy is driven by what is best for our communities and public services, not what works best for an out-of-touch Tory government sat in a parliament in another country.”
The Welsh Conservatives have said that the Budget will do not be effective in “unblocking the huge spanner that’s currently stuck in the Welsh economy’s cogs”.
Writing for Conservative Home, the party’s financial spokesperson Peter Fox said: “The driving wheel needs to be seized and steered away from the never-ending destination to nowhere, and instead go in the opposite direction towards opportunity and success.
“We have all the ingredients of being a great country—inside our cherished United Kingdom—but we’re currently rudderless in driving forward for future generations. Our international footprint is nowhere near where it should be.
“Welsh Labour Ministers can alter the Budget, if they want to, and I urge them to do so. We need to invest in the younger generation and improve the current economic conditions to secure our future successes.
“It’s time that Welsh Labour ministers put our country’s future success, ahead of narrow political beliefs.”
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