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Senedd approves 2024-25 budget following late changes

05 Mar 2024 4 minute read
Wales’ Minister for Finance and Local Government, Rebecca Evans

The Senedd has approved the budget for the next year with last-minute extra funding for a range of services, but further changes could need to be made.

Rebecca Evans, Minister for Finance and Local Government, told the Senedd there were “more changes than usual” to the budget for 2024-25 after late information from the UK Government on how much money they would receive.

In total, the Welsh Government has gained an extra £190 million in its final budget.

But Ms Evans warned there could be further changes if Chancellor Jeremy Hunt adopts further changes in his own statement on Wednesday.

The minister said the Welsh Government had listened to feedback during the scrutiny process and had focused funding to “areas where pressures are most severe”.

Local government 

She said: “There will be £14.4 million extra for local government to help it meet pressures in social care and schools.

“We’re reversing the cuts made to both the social care workforce grant and the children and communities grant of £10.5 million and £5 million respectively.

“The additional funding for local government means that no council will have less than a 2.3% uplift in their settlement.”

Ms Evans also said an extra £10 million will go towards apprenticeship and employability programmes, as part of an effort to support steelworkers if Tata closes the blast furnaces at Port Talbot.

The budget will also provide:

– £5 million revenue to support homelessness prevention activities

– £5 million capital for the social housing grant

– £40 million of new capital funding to support the NHS

– £30 million funding package for the Holyhead Breakwater

– £20 million fund to help small and medium-sized businesses future-proof their businesses.

The minister said she was confident the budget “continues to maximise our available funding” but said the UK spring statement could see “further changes to our settlement”.

Bleak

Rhun ap Iorwerth, leader of Plaid Cymru, described Wales’s financial situation as “bleak and all too familiar”, arguing the budget was constrained by the UK Government’s “austerity-driven” agenda.

However, he also said Welsh Labour was silent on whether funding would improve if the Labour Party got into power in the UK Parliament.

He said: “My sympathy for the Welsh Government is real, and yet it is also qualified.

“Operating within the fiscal straitjacket imposed upon it not only limits the money at ministers’ disposal, but also their spending flexibility.

“But what it doesn’t do is blunt Labour ministers’ ability to secure a firm commitment that Wales will be funded fairly should there be a UK Labour government.

“The silence on that is still deafening.”

He also raised concerns the budget was failing to prepare for the future, particularly money lost from preventative programmes, and said that a lot of money was being put into Transport for Wales while other services were losing out.

Forward planning

Peter Fox MS, the Welsh Conservatives’ shadow finance minister, welcomed the additional funding for health and social care services but said the budget “fails to address the people’s priorities” and lacked sound forward planning.

He said: “This budget fails to address many of the very real issues that families and businesses are facing.

“The Welsh Government’s continuous blaming of everyone else except themselves for their poor record is holding the country back.

“The simple truth is that we as a country cannot hope to move forward until we see a government that is willing to accept responsibility for the results of its policy making. Our Welsh NHS is a case in point.

“After this budget, it will still be under mounting pressure, which it is not prepared for, as a direct result of decades of underfunding by successive Labour governments here.”

The budget was approved by 28 votes for, 15 against and 13 abstentions.


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Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago

Rebecca Evans has a very good CV in government, why did she not put her name down ?

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