Welsh Conservatives have today welcomed the Chancellor’s budget which includes the largest block grant for Wales since the start of devolution.
This afternoon, Rishi Sunak announced an extra £2.5 billion per year on average for the Welsh Government through the Barnett formula over the Spending Review period, on top of its annual baseline funding of £15.9 billion.
Welsh Conservative MS and Shadow Finance Minister, Peter Fox, said the UK Government budget provides the foundations for a stronger economy in Wales as the country continues its recovery from the pandemic.
He added that the financial injection and various other announcements provide Labour ministers with the tools “to get on with the job and kickstart the Welsh economy, tackle the NHS crisis, and deliver a better future for our children.”
The Chancellor also announced £121 million will be delivered for ten projects through the first tranche of the Conservative Government’s £4.8 billion Levelling Up Fund – including £10.9 million to regenerate the Old College and Marina in Aberystwyth, £3.6 million to build the Porth Transport Hub, and £17.7 million to transform the 900-year-old Haverfordwest Castle into an all-weather attraction.
Three projects will also receive a combined £464,000 of funding through the new Community Ownership Fund, helping to protect valued community assets. This includes £250,000 for the Ty'n Llan pub in Llandwrog; £124,258 for the CANA Resource and Training Centre in Pen-y-Waun; and £90,000 total funding for the Queen's Ballroom in Tredegar.
The Budget also provided the Welsh Government with £0.9 billion for farmers and land managers and £6.2 million to support fisheries over the Spending Review. The government has extended the recommendations of the Bew Review so that additional funding will continue to be provided to farmers in Wales over the next three years.
Wales will also benefit from a share of the £2.6 billion UK Shared Prosperity Fund – focused on helping people into jobs and supporting businesses across the UK – the new £1.4 billion Global Britain Investment Fund, and £5 billion for Project Gigabit, rolling out gigabit capable broadband for homes and businesses across the UK.
Other nationwide measures that will benefit people in Wales include a significant tax cut for low-income families by reducing the Universal Credit taper rate from 63 per cent to 55 per cent, a 6.6 per cent increase in the National Living Wage to £9.50 an hour – giving a £1,000 pay rise to 2 million of the lowest paid – increasing pay for public sector workers, and freezes in fuel and alcohol duty.
Commenting, Welsh Conservative Shadow Finance Minister, Peter Fox MS said:
“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.
“This is a Budget which invests in a more innovative, high-skill economy, delivers world-class public services, backs business, helps working families with the cost of living. It has the potential to fast track the Welsh economic recovery.
“Rishi Sunak has delivered the biggest ever block grant to Wales, one that can level up our country if ministers in Cardiff Bay finally step up to the plate and deliver policies to improve our economy and public services, which have been held back by successive Labour administrations.
“Labour’s playbook of excuses has run out and it’s time they used the tools at their disposal to get on with the job and kickstart the Welsh economy, tackle the NHS crisis, and deliver a better future for our children, rather than their constant obsession with powers and the constitution.”
Notes to editors:
This Budget and Spending Review will help to level up Wales:
• Providing the Welsh Government with an additional £2.5 billion per year on average through the Barnett formula over the SR21 period, on top of its annual baseline funding of £15.9 billion. The government is also confirming an extra £425 million for 2021-22. Together this funding gives the Welsh Government sufficient funding certainty to plan in-year spending and to provide additional future investments in areas such as health, social care and education.
• Levelling Up Fund: £121 million in total for 10 projects from the first tranche of allocations from the Fund:
o £13.3 million to revitalise the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Canal World Heritage Site.
o £6.9 million to redevelop the Theatr Brycheiniog Arts Centre in Brecon.
o £15.5 million to revitalise a disused section of the Montgomery Canal in North Powys.
o £16.8 million to cut a 20km path from Carmarthen to Llandeilo.
o £10.9 million to regenerate the Old College and Marina in Aberystwyth.
o £5.4 million to re-open the Muni Arts Centre in Pontypridd.
o £17.7 million to transform the 900-year-old Haverfordwest Castle into an all-weather attraction.
o £20 million to establish the Carmarthen Hwb.
o £3.6 million to build the Porth Transport Hub.
o £11.4 million to dual 1.3km of the A4119.
• Community Ownership Fund: £464,258 will be allocated to three projects in Llandwrog, Pen-y-Waun, and Tredegar from the first round of the Fund to protect valued community assets.
o £250,000 total funding for the Ty'n Llan pub, Llandwrog.
o £124,258 total funding for the CANA Resource and Training Centre, Pen-y-Waun.
o £90,000 total funding for the Queen's Ballroom, Tredegar.
Other announcements for Wales include:
• Providing the Welsh Government with £0.9 billion for farmers and land managers and £6.2 million to support fisheries, over the Spending Review. The government has extended the recommendations of the Bew Review so that additional funding will continue to be provided to farmers in Wales over the next three years.
• Up to £50,000 through the Restoring Your Railway ‘Ideas Fund’ to develop an early-stage proposal to reinstate passenger rail links between Gaerwen and Amlwch in Anglesey.
• Accelerated funding for the Cardiff City Region Deal, bringing forward £105 million for the remaining 9 years of the Deal from 2022-23 onwards. This will fast-track support across Deal projects, including advanced manufacturing capability in the region.
• A £130 million investment fund for Wales through new funding for the British Business Bank, working closely with local partners.
• Establishing a new trade and investment hub in Cardiff, which will ensure the benefits of the UK’s global trade policy are channeled to Wales.
• The establishment of a Veterans Commissioner for Wales, who will work to improve the lives and opportunities of the Welsh veterans’ community, recognising their contribution to UK Armed Forces.
• Confirming funding for the final year of the police officer recruitment uplift, which will deliver an additional 20,000 police officers in England and Wales by 2023. Funding was provided to forces in Wales to recruit 302 additional officers in 2020-21 and 297 in 2021-22.
Wales will also benefit from its share of national programmes:
• Over £2.6 billion for the UK Shared Prosperity Fund over the Spending Review, focused on helping people into jobs and supporting businesses across the UK this includes giving hundreds of thousands of adults the opportunity to develop their numeracy skills though the Adult Numeracy Programme ‘Multiply’.
• £5 billion for Project Gigabit, rolling out gigabit capable broadband for homes and businesses across the UK.
• The new £1.4 billion Global Britain Investment Fund will ensure that economic opportunities are spread more evenly across the UK by supporting investment in the UK’s life sciences, offshore wind and automotive manufacturing sectors.
• The continuation of the Turing Scheme for the next three years, including £110 million for the Academic Year 2022-23, enabling students from Wales to go on life-changing placements and exchanges overseas.