“No new money for Wales” – Finance Minister Rebecca Evans

The Welsh Government’s Finance Minister has said it is deeply concerning that the Chancellor has ignored calls for support for the poorest people, and denied funding for the frontline services that matter to people the most.

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Speaking after the Chancellor delivered his statement, the Minister for Finance and Local Government said:

“Jeremy Hunt, once again, has rejected the case to invest in public services, and has failed to provide the critical investment that is needed in the health service and in schools.

“Despite our poor settlement from the UK Government, in Wales we have taken difficult decisions in order to increase funding for Wales’ health service by more than 4% next year, while the UK Government is only increasing NHS spending in England by 1%.

“It is clear that the UK economy remains stagnant. The Chancellor’s statement has failed to present a convincing plan for growth that backs Wales’ economic potential in a fairer UK economy. More short-term schemes have been announced, along with tax cuts that don’t target those most in need, whilst income tax thresholds are frozen. The UK Government’s return to austerity for public services shows a complete disregard for responsible management of public finances and will require implausible spending cuts in the future.

“Yet again our call for an Essentials Guarantee to ensure that people on Universal Credit can meet their essential costs was not heeded by the Chancellor. Instead, he has chosen to cut employee National Insurance Contributions by 2p. Research from the Institute for Public Policy Research has calculated that nearly half the benefit of this measure would go to the richest 20% of households, while just 3% would end up in the pocket of those already hardest hit in our communities.

“Every Conservative budget since 2014 has promised higher wages, higher skills or higher growth – but a year on from the so-called ‘budget for growth,’ the economy has actually shrunk, as have wages. If wages had carried on growing at the rate seen before the financial crisis in 2008, average pay would be £10,000 higher per worker according to the Resolution Foundation.

“Apart from a few small announcements, there was nothing in this Budget for Wales. Our core priorities for UK Government investment in coal tip safety and re-classification of HS2 have, once again, been ignored.

“Lastly, despite all four parties of the Senedd voting unanimously in favour of the UK Government providing Wales with additional budget flexibilities that would see our borrowing and overall reserve limits indexed to inflation and our reserve draw-down limit permanently abolished, the UK Government has failed to act on these simple and reasonable requests.”

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