Rebecca Evans, the Welsh Government’s Finance Minister, has said protecting public services and the most vulnerable has been put front and centre of the Welsh Government’s Budget.
It comes ahead of a debate in the Senedd on the 2023 to 2024 Final Budget later today.
Key Budget allocations include £227 million extra for local government, an additional £165 million for the NHS, and a support package for businesses worth £460 million over 2 years.
The Senedd will also debate the Local Government Settlement and the Welsh Rates of Income Tax. The Welsh Government has decided now is not the right time to raise this tax as so many people are struggling with inflation and higher energy bills.
Rebecca Evans, Minister for Finance and Local Government, said:
“Protecting public services is front and centre of our Budget. Our local government investment supports schools, social care and the various crucial services delivered by councils, while our investment in the NHS reflects our commitment to address the ongoing pressures on the health service.
“We also know many people are struggling to make ends meet, which is why this Budget prioritises protecting the most vulnerable. We’ve made extra investment in the Discretionary Assistance Fund which provides emergency support to people facing financial distress and continue to support schemes that put money back in people’s pockets such as Free School Meals.
“We have been able to make these spending commitments despite the financial pressures we face. We have also been able to make them without raising income tax, meaning people already struggling to make ends meet will not face an additional tax burden on top of the other financial pressures so many households are facing.
“This is a Budget to protect public services and the most vulnerable, and I look forward to the debate in the Senedd later today.”
The Budget has been delivered in the context of significant financial pressures, with inflation reducing the value of the Welsh Government’s 2023-24 Budget by up to £1 billion, and the UK government’s post-EU funding reductions leading to more than a £1.1 billion funding shortfall between 2021 and 2025.
On Wednesday 15th March the Chancellor is due to unveil the Spring Budget.
Rebecca Evans added:
“In next week’s Spring Budget we want to see a reprioritisation of funding towards people who need help the most.
“While energy companies post record profits, energy bills will be increasing from April and people continue to face incredibly difficult choices over essentials. The UK government must review its Windfall Tax to close any loopholes and use the additional resources available as a result of the cost of its energy price support being less than first thought to maintain the Energy Price Guarantee at £2500 from April.
“The way in which funding works across the United Kingdom means it is the UK Government which has the levers to take the most significant action on NHS funding, public sector pay and cost of living support. I have made this case to the Chancellor ahead of next week’s Budget and continue to stress the need for investment.”