Welsh Government waiting for England to make business rates relief decision
The Welsh Government is waiting for England to make its decision on business rates relief.
Finance Minister Rebecca Evans has said she wants to know what Rishi Sunak announces on business rates in the UK Government budget speech on Wednesday, and what that means for Wales, before making a decision on the issue.
Evans confirmed today that the Welsh Government will spend an extra £1.1bn in the next financial year.
The Final Budget for 2021-2022 includes an extra £224m for housing, schools and other infrastructure, £630m for health and social care, as well as £200m that will be set aside for businesses support. The Welsh Conservatives have argued that business rate relief should continue.
Plaid Cymru has described the budget as a “missed opportunity” that fails to “get to grips” with the inequality exposed by the pandemic.
The new package from the government also boosts investment in flood and coastal defence in this Senedd term.
An extra £8m will be invested to help local authorities and Natural Resources Wales repair the damage caused by flood events in December and January and protect communities at risk of flooding.
Finance Minister Rebecca Evans said: “When the Chancellor confirms the funding Wales will get as its share of the English position on rates relief for next year, I will announce the next steps for Wales.
“Today’s measures build on a budget designed to protect public services and our economy, build a greener future and create change for a more equal Wales.”
She added: “The Budget I have published today provides our economy with an investment to help inject jobs and demand into a recovery that takes root today.
“It also provides the NHS and local government with the certainty they need to respond to the next phase of the pandemic.
“We know that our hardest hit businesses need certainty too. That’s why we repurposed budgets to provide more funding for business support in Wales than we received as a share of the package in England.
“We will provide further clarity when our funding position is absolutely guaranteed.
Responding to the Welsh Government budget announcement, Plaid Cymru’s Shadow Minister for Finance, Rhun ap Iorwerth MS said: “This budget is a missed opportunity. It is a missed opportunity to support local government and to protect public services – councils that have performed heroically over the past twelve months in the face of unprecedented pressures.
“It is a missed opportunity to provide additional support for businesses including hospitality and tourism. It is a missed opportunity to take the pressure off local taxpayers by freezing council tax.
“And it is a missed opportunity to help the poorest in society by extending the eligibility of free school meals to all children in homes on universal credit.
“We need to keep money flowing to help those businesses who truly need it, to help with the pressures on health and care services, and to help the most vulnerable in our society.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has placed unprecedented pressure on public expenditure in Wales and has exposed inequalities at the heart of our society. This budget has sadly failed to get to grips with that.
“Meanwhile, Plaid Cymru is ready with a programme of investment of billions of pounds in rebuilding Wales – not back to where we were prior to the pandemic, but to a level where we can be far more ambitious in what we try to achieve as a nation of equals.”