THE Welsh Government is urging the UK Government to take decisive action to end austerity and provide sustainable, long-term investment for our vital public services, as it prepares for the long-awaited UK Budget.
In a letter to the new Chancellor, Finance Minister Rebecca Evans sets out Wales’ priorities ahead of the UK Budget on Wednesday 11 March 2020.
The Finance Minister is urging the UK Government to make a series of commitments to Wales, including:
addressing regional inequality
responding to the climate emergency
delivering its commitment to post-EU funding
funding for the twin challenges of large scale flooding and Coronavirus
Speaking ahead of next week’s UK Budget announcement, Finance Minister Rebecca Evans said:
“While the labour market in Wales is performing strongly in historic terms, this is despite a lost decade, in which UK productivity and real wages have barely risen.
“The UK Government should respond to this uncertainty by taking advantage of historically low interest rates, ending austerity and focussing on helping those most at risk. This means a sustained investment in public services and a reversal of regressive welfare reforms and cuts. As part of this the UK Government must review its approach to ensure fairer taxation.
“If the UK Government is serious about levelling up now is the time to deliver major, long overdue investment in Wales. Following decades of underinvestment, I have called on the UK Government to make good on its previous commitments to ensure Wales receives its fair share of rail investment and to boost research and development spending, which is so important to our economy.”
The Finance Minister also urged the Chancellor to deploy the levers to meet the challenge of the climate emergency.
Rebecca Evans said:
“We need to see decisive support into research and development for industrial decarbonisation and further investment in the energy system. I welcome the Secretary of State for Wales’ recent comments that the transformational potential of a Swansea Bay tidal lagoon is still under discussion and I urge the UK Government to take steps to bring this project to fruition.”
As the UK prepares to leave the EU the Finance Minister called on the Chancellor to respect Wales’ devolution settlement, to accept the key role of the Welsh Government and the broad based partnership it convenes in managing and co-ordinating the replacement funding for the Structural Funds. She welcomed confirmation that the UK Government will provide full funding replacement for all EU programmes which Wales has benefitted from in the past and sought unequivocal guarantees in this budget.
“We also expect the budget to be tailored to support a smooth transition as the UK leaves the EU, helping businesses and sectors as they prepare to transition to a new trading environment.”
In the letter the Minister addressed the common challenges we are all facing in funding our future social care system and welcomed improved engagement between the Treasury and Welsh Government to discuss options for future funding.
Finally, turning to the devastation caused by the recent floods the Finance Minister reiterated the need for additional funding to deal with the disproportionate impact the storms have had on Wales.
The Finance Minister also made it clear that effectively planning for Coronavirus is likely to require additional funding, for all parts of the UK.