Welsh Government may have to pay back new money to fight Omicron says Treasury
The Welsh Government may have to repay the additional money it has received by the Treasury to fight Omicron if the UK Government decides it wasn’t needed.
The Treasury announced yesterday it would give the Welsh Government an additional £270 million to fight the new variant of the virus 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 £270 million, UK officials said. But they said that if the amount given end up higher than the share of the money Wales would have received anyway, they will have it pay it back.
“If the amount of funding provided up front to each Devolved Administration is more than the Barnett consequentials confirmed at Supplementary Estimates then the difference will be repaid in 2022-23, or over the Spending Review period if necessary,” the Treasury said.
“If the Barnett consequentials are higher than the amount provided up front, the Devolved Administrations will keep the extra funding.”
The Scottish Government criticised the announcement of “new” funding yesterday, with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon saying that she had suspicions that it was an “advance” on what they would have received anyway.
She said that “to the extent it is new/additional, the Scottish Government will make sure it goes in full to helping business and the overall Covid effort”.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak however said that the money gave the devolved governments “the certainty they requested to spend additional funding now rather than waiting for Supplementary Estimates in the new year”.
“Following discussions with the Devolved Administrations, we are now doubling the additional funding available,” he said.
“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.”
Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies welcomed the announcement.
“As I said on BBC Wales on Friday, the Conservatives have consistently stepped up to the plate throughout the pandemic to help Welsh families, workers and businesses – and we’ve done so again,” he said.
“Throughout this crisis, the Chancellor and Prime Minister have ensured the United Kingdom has stood together as one family with over £9 billion of COVID-19 support for Wales, and will continue to deliver through financial measures, vaccines, and boots on the ground thanks to our heroic Armed Forces.
“It’s now vital Labour ministers use this money quickly to ramp up the vaccine rollout, strengthen the public health response, and help Welsh workers and businesses who are already experiencing difficulties in the wake of Omicron and need support this Christmas.”
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