Welsh Government minister accuses Conservatives of ‘naked and brutish power grab’ of Wales’ powers
A Welsh Government minister has accused the UK Government of a “naked and brutish power grab” of Wales’ powers.
Writing in the Times, Vaughan Gething said that the way control over how money is spent had been stripped from Wales by the UK Government in a way that “made a mockery” of the idea that they were bringing powers closer to communities.
The UK Government has so far sought to bypass the Welsh Government with its levelling up fund, allowing councils and MPs to work together to bid for funding instead.
Vaughan Gething however said that attempts to shut out the Welsh Government meant that “rich sources of knowledge, expertise and networks” were “all shut off on the terms of a playground edict”.
“The new Internal Market Act is being used to grab back power over how replacement EU funds are spent in Welsh communities,” he said.
“UK ministers are very clear that decisions will in future be taken by them in London, making a mockery of the pledge to bring power closer to communities. Decisions taken for over 20 years at the devolved level will now rest entirely with Whitehall, leaving Wales with less say over less money.
“Despite this naked and brutish power grab there is still no sign that UK ministers have a plan that comes close to the scale of the promises made at the last election.”
‘Not too late’
Vaughan Gething added that the funding announced so far was “disparate and lacking any overall coherent strategic purpose or focus” and lacked “the heavy lifting we did in the Welsh government before publishing our plan for delivering EU replacement funds for Wales nearly 18 months ago”.
Instead, he said, the UK Government should work with the Welsh Government in a spirit of “compromise in goodwill”.
“It is not too late for Michael Gove to offer a way forward based on co-design and co-decision-making,” he said. “It is not too late for a meaningful partnership.”
It is widely expected that Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove will publish the Government’s ‘Levelling Up White Paper’ tomorrow, Wednesday 2 February. The UK Government says it will be a “blueprint for spreading opportunity more equally across the country”.
In October Chancellor Rishi Sunak has said £121m of funding will go to 10 specific schemes in Wales as part of the Levelling Up fund.
Of the £4.8bn in the levelling up pot, £800m has been shared between Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
At the time the Welsh Conservatives said that “despite the unprecedented challenges caused by the pandemic, this Conservative UK Government is getting on with the job and delivering on the priorities of people in Wales”.
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