Watch: Mark Drakeford accuses Truss government of having ‘turned its back on the future of the UK’
The First Minister has accused Liz Truss’ government of having “turned its back” on “the future of the United Kingdom”.
Speaking during First Minister’s Questions in the Senedd, Mark Drakeford said that there had been a “collapse” in the inter-governmental arrangements agreed under the previous Boris Johnson-led UK Government.
He added that he had still not had the opportunity to discuss the cost of living crisis “or any other matter” with Liz Truss.
“Not only has there been no invitation to meet the Prime Minister, but all those carefully agreed components of the inter-governmental review concluded by the last UK Government, agreed by the Welsh Government, the Scottish Government and the Northern Ireland Executive, none of that is operating either,” he said.
“There was to have been a meeting of what’s called FISC, the finance inter-ministerial committee. It was meant to happen in September; it was postponed by the UK Government.
“It was rescheduled for 5 October; it’s been postponed again by the UK Government. Neither of those two committees—the ministerial committee and the finance committee—have met since the new Prime Minister took office.
“There were 11 groups set up at a ministerial level under the review of inter-governmental relations. There have been 20 meetings of those groups between March and the start of September. Not a single one of them has met since the new Prime Minister took office.
“It is a collapse—it’s a collapse—of a set of arrangements that the last Conservative Government agreed, led and, to an extent, was making happen in the six months between March and September.
“We’ll take whatever opportunities come our way, but the truth of the matter is that the current UK Government has turned its back not just on our economic futures, but the future of the United Kingdom as well.”
Absolutely damning stuff from @PrifWeinidog today.
The UK Government has ‘turned its back’ on the governance of the union and hasn’t participated in any of the intra-union government meetings since Liz Truss became UK Prime Minister. Severe peril for public services ahead. pic.twitter.com/9SSng9WD17
— Richard Martin (@mimosacymru) October 11, 2022
He was responding to a question by Labour backbencher Joyce Watson MS who asked “What discussions has the First Minister had with the UK Prime Minister regarding the cost-of-living crisis facing residents in mid and west Wales?”
Mark Drakeford answered: “Llywydd, no opportunity for discussion on this or any other matter has been forthcoming from the latest UK Prime Minister.”
Mark Drakeford’s criticism comes after the Welsh, Scottish and Northern Ireland finance ministers have received “no response” from the Chancellor to a letter asking to meet to discuss the mini-budget which put financial markets in a tailspin.
The devolved governments had said last week that they were seeking an “urgent meeting” with Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng to discuss “immediate action to reverse the damaging effects of the mini-budget”.
Wales’ Finance Minister Rebecca Evans was joined by Finance Ministers from Scotland and Northern Ireland in highlighting the profound impact of “the largest set of unfunded tax cuts for the rich in over 50 years” stating it is “a huge gamble on public finances and the health of our economy”.
But today Scottish Finance Minister John Swinney said that they had not yet received any reply to that letter, or a previous letter they had sent.
“It’s not just the letter of October 1,” he said.
“Over the summer, the finance ministers of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland also wrote to the then Chancellor, setting the need for urgent action over the summer to tackle the cost-of-living crisis,” he told the BBC’s Breakfast programme.
“And there hasn’t been a response to that letter either.”
He added the UK Government was not taking its engagement with devolved administrations seriously.
The joint letter had warned against being condemned to another decade of austerity and expressed deep concern over reports that UK Government departments will be asked to make spending cuts to balance the budget, which may have profound consequences for devolved budget settlements already eroded by inflation.
The Ministers also renewed calls for the UK Government to provide targeted support for households and businesses, funded through a windfall tax on the energy sector.
They also call for additional funding to increase Social Security benefits to support low income households with the higher costs they will face through winter, including a £25 per week uplift for Universal Credit and legacy benefits.
“By abolishing the 45p additional rate of income tax the UK Government has shown its true colours,” they said. “This will make the rich richer and further embed inequality in our communities.”
The UK Government subsequently u-turned on the planned abolition of the 45p rate.
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