Welsh budget must prioritise economic and public service recovery say Welsh Conservatives
Welsh Conservatives say the Welsh Government “must prioritise economic and public service recovery” in the upcoming budget.
The draft budget, outlining proposals for the strategic spending, taxation and financing plans of the Welsh Government, will be published tomorrow, 20 December for scrutiny by the finance and policy committees.
Commenting ahead of the budget, Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for Finance, Peter Fox MS said: “Labour have been responsible for running Wales since the days of Tony Blair, but along with their nationalist helpers, they’ve consistently failed to improve our economy and public services.”
He said they were calling for a package of measures that tackles deep-rooted problems in Wales’ health and social care services and support businesses during the pandemic.
Mr Fox said: “As we continue to face challenges from the pandemic, Labour ministers must use this budget to prioritise Wales’ recovery and address societal pressures rather than wasteful socialist and nationalist pet projects such as constitutional change and more politicians.
“Welsh Conservatives want to see the urgent introduction of a compensation fund for businesses who are being hit by cancellations in the wake of Omicron, as well as the extension of the business rates holiday to help firms on the road to recovery, securing jobs across Wales.
“We also cannot afford to ignore other serious problems in public health and social care, and this is an opportune time for ministers to listen to our long-held calls for the introduction of regional surgical hubs so we can ease the pressure on hospitals and start tackling Labour’s huge NHS waiting list backlog.
“The Conservative UK Government has provided Labour ministers with record funding to deliver for Welsh communities – an extra £2.5 billion per year on average on top of its annual funding of £15.9 billion – and it’s vital this is used to help councils keep bills low for working families, rectifies the chronic underfunding of schools, and ensures our infrastructure is fit for the 21st century.
“This record budget must be invested wisely to deliver on the priorities of working people, and with a laser light focus on creating better-paid jobs and delivering vital public services.”
When the UK Government spending review was announced in October, Rebecca Evans, the Welsh Government’s Finance Minister, said: “This UK Government Spending Review hasn’t delivered for Wales. Vital funding priorities, such as the long-term remediation of coal tips and greater funding in rail infrastructure, have been ignored.
“The fact remains that there are clear gaps in funding where the UK Government should be investing in Wales and it has chosen not to. Arrangements for replacing EU Structural Funds remain unclear but what we do know is it falls well short of the £375m we were receiving – these are funds that support skills, businesses and decarbonisation.”
Adam Price accused the Chancellor Rishi Sunak of champagne neoliberalism, saying: “Cutting tax on domestic aviation, sparkling wine and bank profits while the planet burns + working families struggle. This is all you need to know about Westminster’s priorities. We needed moral leadership.”
Plaid Cymru’s treasury spokesperson, Ben Lake MP, also said: “With millions of people facing a cost-of-living crisis, today we needed a transformative Budget that would put money in people’s pockets in the short and long-term as well as ambitious policies to set a global example ahead of COP26. The Chancellor failed on both counts.
“£2.5bn for Wales is a good headline for the UK Government. But let’s put that into perspective. Wales is owed around £5bn in consequential funding from HS2, which the Chancellor once again today decided to withhold from Wales.”
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