By Daniel Hunter
“The UK Government’s Budget is another missed opportunity for Wales and does nothing to boost economic growth”, Finance Minister Jane Hutt has said.
However, the Minister welcomed confirmation that the Wales Bill will be published this week and said it was an important step forward that will take Wales closer to gaining the vital borrowing powers needed to invest in Wales’ infrastructure.
Since 2010, the Welsh Government’s budget has been cut by 10%. In addition, there has been a 31% cut in real terms to the Welsh capital budget between 09-10 and 15-16.
Jane Hutt said:
“This is another Budget full of missed opportunities for Wales and does nothing to boost economic growth.
“As the Office of Budget Responsibility say, the measures announced by the Chancellor today will “have a negligible effect on annual GDP growth.”
“Since 2010, we have seen record-breaking cuts to the Welsh budget — by 2015/16, it will be 10% lower than when the current UK Government came to office in 2010.
“This Budget delivers some small increases, but also brings significant additional burdens — it gives with one hand, but takes away with the other.
“The Chancellor has given Wales an additional £36m over the next two years. But at the same time we are being forced to find at least £70m from our Budget to cover public sector Pension costs.
“This Government’s top priority is creating jobs and boosting economic growth. The employment statistics published earlier today show that unemployment in Wales is now lower than in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland — a clear example that the Welsh Government’s policies are working.
“For us to build on this further we needed this Budget to deliver a significant capital investment boost. This has not happened. However we will continue to use the resources we have available to us to invest in our Wales Infrastructure Investment Plan priorities."
The Minister added:
“The publication of the Wales Bill tomorrow is an important step forward and will take us closer to gaining the vital borrowing powers we need to invest in Wales’ infrastructure.
“The increased support for childcare would be positive for working families but I would urge the UK Government to bring their plans forward now.
“The energy package announced will be good news for energy intensive industries and Welsh households who will see welcome reductions in energy bills. The First Minister has been calling for this support for some time. We’re pleased the UK Government has listened.”