This week, the Senedd is debating the Welsh Government’s Draft Budget and I look forward to contributing to this important debate.
At both the Scottish and UK Parliaments, the government presents the budget to the chamber inviting debate and scrutiny from day one. This is in stark contrast to the Welsh Government who simply upload the document in the quiet of recess just days before Christmas.
It is incredibly disappointing that the Welsh Government chose to release its draft budget late in the calendar year, during recess, which heavily stifles the opportunity to properly scrutinise it.
When it comes to the budget, I understand that governments across the world are having to make difficult decisions as global pressures increase inflation, and Wales is no different.
As I have written about on multiple occasions, the Welsh Government receives £1.20 for every £1 spent per person on health and education in England but has only been spending £1.05.
This extra money is a direct result of the funding formula agreed by both the Welsh and UK Government and it allocated using a needs-based formula.
I am glad that the Welsh Government has increased funding to our Welsh NHS, its long past time, but if the Welsh Government had been using all of the funding at its disposal over the last 25 years our health service would not be in the state it is in now.
I was astonished to see that the mental health budget received a cut of 8.8% this year despite many Labour Ministers claiming to understand the importance of mental health support for the people of Wales.
We need ministers to put their money where their mouths are and ensure the public services that need to be prioritised receive adequate funding.
Unfortunately, the difficult decisions are being pushed onto local authorities by the Welsh Government forcing councils to raise council tax which have already gone up by 200% since 1999.
This results in hard working families having to pay the price for any cuts to our local authorities.
There is time for the Welsh Government to readdress these issues, and I am glad that the committees will be reporting back on this budget ahead of the debate later on in the term.
I hope that Ministers listen to the concerns raised and address many of the issues that have already been highlighted.