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UK Government blamed for ‘blackholes’ in Welsh Government Draft Budget

19 Dec 2023 7 minute read
Downing Street in London.

Emily Price

UK Government has been blamed for “budget blackholes” following the announcement of the Welsh Government’s spending plans for 2024-25.

On Tuesday (December 19) the Welsh Government laid its Draft Budget before the Senedd and the Finance Committee to be scrutinised.

The NHS and local government will receive funding while other spending departments will get less money thanks to the poor performance of the UK economy and a real terms reduction in funding from Westminster.

Overall the Budget is worth £1.3bn less in real terms than when it was set in 2021.

The Welsh Government says it hasn’t had an adequate funding settlement for Wales from the UK Government, making it difficult to meet the current pressures on services, businesses and people.

In the recent UK Autumn Statement, Wales received an extra £165m for running services but the Welsh Government says it didn’t provide anywhere near the additional funding needed.

Following today’s Budget announcement, the Welsh Liberal Democrats accused the Conservative party of  “chaos and mismanagement”.

Left behind

Welsh Lib Dem leader, Jane Dodds MS said: “This budget announcement is sadly the same old deal that leaves Wales standing still and doesn’t move us forward. I welcome the extra funding being provided to both the NHS budget, local government funding.

“However, the fact remains that huge parts of Wales are still being left behind with this budget, in particular rural Wales. We need more investment in our rural areas and more support for our farmers.

“Welsh Labour and their Plaid Cymru partners have failed to deliver for the challenges of rural Wales with this budget, leaving our farmers and other small businesses marooned to fend for themselves.

“Whilst it is easy to call out both parties for their failings, the fact remains that the biggest culprits are the very ones who would happily jump on the fallout of this budget.

“Make no mistake, Wales’ economic strife has been caused by a party who many of the Welsh population haven’t voted for and that is the Conservatives.

“We cannot let the Tories shake the narrative to suit them best, we cannot forget the damage that has been done. The Conservatives, through all their chaos and mismanagement, have left our country teetering on the brink with an economy that has seen practically zero growth.

“The Welsh Conservatives can make a big song and dance about the faults with this budget, but they should be reminded that it’s their colleagues in Westminster who are responsible for the mess we find ourselves in.

“Intent on worsening their track record when it comes to looking after our nation’s needs, the Tories have once again shown how little they care about Wales and the Welsh public.

“This budget announcement has also confirmed our greatest fears, that there has been little to no money set aside for Wales by a neglectful UK Tory government that has no interest in tidying up the mess they have caused.”

Cuts

Labour MP for Cynon Valley, Beth Winter said the UK Government had prioritised funding tax cuts for bankers bonuses and higher earners in London instead of people in Wales.

She said: “The cuts announced in the Welsh Budget harm Welsh public services and the people who rely on them every day. The fall in funding available for Wales is the decision of the Conservatives in Westminster who have prioritised funding tax cuts for bankers bonuses and higher earners in London and the South East rather than public services and public servants pay. Whether Cameron, Johnson, or Sunak in Downing St, austerity never went away.

“For working-class people and the politicians who seek to represent them, the need to challenge it never went away. Welsh Labour needs to set out the case against austerity and for increased budgets both for everyday services and the funds and the specific powers needed to invest in our peoples futures.

“The candidates for Welsh Labour leader must be clear they reject austerity that harms Welsh people, and will make that clear to Downing St when in post.”

Plaid Cymru said Wales faces a “double-whammy” of unfair funding and mismanagement.

Plaid Cymru Leader Rhun ap Iorwerth MS said: “This budget is unsustainable and will have a serious long-term impact on hard-working people across Wales. There’s no doubt that the context is a very tough one, but Wales faces a double-whammy.

“On one hand, the funding deal we get from the UK Government is unfair and inadequate. That’s true of the present Conservative Government, and there’s no commitment from Labour that they’d put that right either, or pay Wales the £2bn owed from the HS2 rail project.

“On the other hand, serious questions must also be asked of the way Labour spend public money. Their failure to get to grips with running the NHS and our transport system means the inadequate spending power we have goes on sticking plaster solutions rather than fixing problems and building long-term sustainability. Cuts in apprenticeships now are the kind of short-term decisions that we could pay heavily for in years to come.

“We’re disappointed that our request to recall the Senedd today so we could begin to discuss this draft budget and hold the Labour Government to account. Plaid Cymru will do all that we can to scrutinise, challenge and influence the budget where possible over the coming weeks.”

Cost of living 

Responding to the news Welsh charities warned that the Budget will put more pressure on people already struggling with the cost of living crisis.

Sarah Rees, Head of Oxfam Cymru, said: “This sobering draft Budget will pile yet further pressure onto people across Wales who have already been pushed to the brink by the surging cost of living.

“The next First Minister must make tackling the country’s shameful and stubbornly high poverty rate their top priority, underpinning this crucial mission with a bold, comprehensive and binding strategy which sets out clear targets and timescales. Now is the time to begin building the fairer, greener, more caring Wales all of us – and our future generations – need to see.”

Melanie Simmonds, head of Save the Children Cymru said: “We understand that budgets are tight and difficult decisions had to be made but with so many families struggling to afford basics such as food, clothes and to pay their bills, children cannot be the collateral damage of a challenging fiscal environment and be left to go to bed cold or without a hot meal in their tummies.

“It’s simply unacceptable and a violation of their basic rights. And we all know that the long-term consequence of poverty is ultimately going to impact more on public spending if immediate action is not taken.

“If the Welsh Government is serious about tackling child poverty this must be reflected in the imminent Child Poverty Strategy along with clear targets and a funded delivery plan. It must also be a priority for the next First Minister when starting their new role in the spring.”

Wales TUC said the Welsh Government had been faced with an impossible task when deciding the details of the Draft Budget.

Shavanah Taj, Wales TUC General Secretary said: “These brutal cuts are the consequence of 13 years of Tory mismanagement of the UK economy. We’ve endured years of austerity and underinvestment under a rotating cast of incapable Conservative Prime Ministers. They’ve repeatedly failed Wales, starved our public services of funding and left workers poorer.

“Wales needs a fair deal on funding and it’s blindingly obvious it will not get one under the current Conservative government. The Welsh Government has been left with the unenviable task of trying to find a fair way forward in impossible circumstances.

“Workers will naturally be worried about what these cuts will mean for them, for their services and the knock-on impact on the wider economy. Trade unions across Wales will be working flat-out in the coming days and weeks to do all they can to provide security and support to their members.”


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Cwm Rhondda
Cwm Rhondda
6 months ago

Here we go, Welsh Labour blaming the nasty Tories. Welsh Labour want to be part of a Union where the Tories are typically in charge of the UK Government. Labour will probably win the next UK general election, there are no guarantees they’ll help Cymru. When are we going to stop this begging bowl approach – stand on our own two feet and create a country where public services are truly valued. Do Welsh Labour realise how embarrassing and demeaning it is for people living in Cymru to be beholden to another country for its funding.

Ernie The Smallholder
Ernie The Smallholder
6 months ago
Reply to  Cwm Rhondda

Yes, ‘Welsh’ Labour puts all its faith in the UK again.
Even if Labour does win the UK general election, there is no guarantee that they will help or even hold on the the UK if the English vote for another government that is hostile to Wales.
We need to run our own country and the only way is to become a free independent country and not have an occupier breathing down our necks.

Ernie The Smallholder
Ernie The Smallholder
6 months ago

Jane Dodd : Although I agree with you about this situation with the Tories at Westminster, It was unjust when you say that Plaid Cymru is any part to this ruling labour government at Cardiff Bay. Plaid Cymru has never accepted any cabinet post in this government unlike Kirsty Williams (LD) did in the last Welsh labour government. What Plaid Cymru would never do: Your LD federal party had even entered into a coalition with the UK Tories in the UK 2010-2015. A disaster on your party to which the LD party only recovered because nothing can destroy liberal democratic… Read more »

Andy Brown
Andy Brown
6 months ago

If the Welsh government stopped wasting hundreds of millions on unnecessary speed restrictions and extra senydd ministers and sold cardiff airport and the farm we would be in a far better way financially

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