Treasury gives Welsh Government additional £270 million to fight Omicron after Drakeford criticism
The Treasury will give the Welsh Government an additional £270 million to fight the Omicron after criticism by First Minister Mark Drakeford.
The First Minister had said on Friday that Wales’ ability to tackle Omicron was “severely constrained” by the Treasury’s refusal to help out the semi-autonomous nations unless England also imposed restrictions.
They will now receive an additional £860 million, increased from an initial £430 million announced last this week, UK officials said.
The news confirmed by Chancellor Rishi Sunak came as Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland met for a Cobra meeting with the Cabinet Office minister Stephen Barclay.
The Scottish Government will get an additional £440 million and Northern Ireland £150 million.
Rishi Sunak said: “Following discussions with the Devolved Administrations, we are now doubling the additional funding available.
“We will continue to listen to and work with the Devolved Administrations in the face of this serious health crisis to ensure we’re getting the booster to people all over the UK and that people in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are supported.”
The extra support comes after Mark Drakeford had on Friday outlined restrictions that the Welsh Government was planning to introduce after Christmas, on 27 December, he said that it was “not fair” that ministers making decisions for England knew money would be available while the same thing wasn’t true in Wales.
“Our ability to provide and sustain longer-term economic support during this new wave of what is an ongoing public health emergency is severely constrained by the current position of the UK Treasury and its refusal to open vital support schemes such as furlough,” he said.
“These schemes should be available for all nations when they are needed and not just at the point at when restrictions are introduced in England.”
He added: “At the moment the system is not fair to us in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland.
“If ministers at the UK Government want to do something the Treasury will back it. If we want to make the same decisions here the money isn’t available.”
The Leader of the Welsh Conservatives, Andrew RT Davies, later accused Mark Drakeford of “playing politics” over the comments.
Andrew RT Davies said: “Let’s get real here. The UK Treasury has funded many measures right the way through this pandemic in excess of £8bn that’s come into Wales. I’m sure the UK Treasury will step up to the plate again.
“But let’s not forget that the Welsh Government has £650m of their own money available to put into to support businesses in Wales and ultimately when they did bring schemes forward such as the economic resilience fund, it collapsed in 24 hours, so I regret that the First Minister is trying to play politics with this.
“The UK Treasury has always stepped up in this pandemic when it’s been required for Wales.”