The Welsh Government has published its new Budget to help protect public services and the most vulnerable in the face of a “perfect storm of financial pressures”.
Announcing the Draft Budget for 2023-24, the Minister for Finance and Local Government Rebecca Evans said it has been one of the hardest since the start of devolution.
This year’s Draft Budget builds on the spending plans set out in the 3-year Budget published last year. Difficult decisions have been made to reprioritise funding from within Welsh Government budgets to maximise support for public services and for people and businesses most affected by the cost-of-living crisis and the recession.
The Draft Budget also allocates additional funding which came to Wales through the Autumn Statement.
An extra £165 million is being allocated for NHS Wales to help protect frontline services.
An additional £227 million is being provided to local government to help safeguard the services delivered by councils – including schools – as well as delivering the Real Living Wage in social care. This funding also contributes to the wider £460 million 2-year business support package, announced yesterday.
The Welsh Government will provide further support to education with an extra £28 million for the education budget, to strengthen the further education sector, improve standards in schools, support children whose families are on lower incomes, and help children and young people with additional learning needs. The full £117 million consequential from education spending in the Autumn Statement has been provided to local government to fund schools.
Funding is also being provided to support Wales’ ongoing humanitarian response to the war in Ukraine and the thousands of people who have sought safety and sanctuary in Wales – £40 million will be allocated in 2023-24 and £20 million in 2024-25.
The Draft Budget also provides an additional £18.8 million for the Discretionary Assistance Fund, which provides lifeline emergency cash payments to people facing financial hardship.
And an additional £40 million will support public transport, helping create a sustainable and greener transport system, which helps Wales on its journey towards Net Zero by 2050.
Rebecca Evans, Minister for Finance and Local Government, said:
“This is a budget in hard times, which will help to protect frontline public services as far as we can in the face of a perfect storm of financial pressures, while also providing some extra help to those most affected by the cost-of-living crisis and supporting our economy through the recession.
“Our approach is designed to maximise the impact of all our available resources. This means balancing the short-term needs associated with the ongoing cost-of-living crisis, with the continued need to make longer-term change and deliver on our Programme for Government ambitions for a stronger, fairer, greener Wales.
“This has been one of the toughest budgets since devolution. It is being delivered as the UK economy is once again in recession, following a decade of austerity, Brexit and the pandemic. Inflation is at a 40-year high and energy costs are soaring.
“Inflation has eroded the spending power of our budget but not our ambition. We have taken very difficult decisions to make sure all our resources are used to help support people, businesses and services through the tough year ahead.”
The Welsh Government’s budget is worth up to £1 billion less next year than when it was originally announced, and up to £3 billion less over the 3-year spending review period from 2022-23 to 2024-25.
As a result of the UK government’s post-EU funding arrangements, Wales also has a £1.1 billion shortfall in funding, compared to the EU structural and rural funds.