Jane Hutt, Minister for Finance and Leader of the House
I have today tabled the Annual Budget for 2013-14, which reflects the actions we are taking as a responsible Government to promote economic growth and to create and sustain jobs throughout Wales.
Since we published the Draft Budget 2013-14 on 2 October, the National Assembly for Wales has undertaken detailed scrutiny of our budget proposals. We have welcomed the constructive engagement around our spending plans and have reflected on the evidence and feedback we have received throughout the budget process. While there has been no overriding evidence emerging from the scrutiny of the Draft Budget 2013-14 to suggest that we should fundamentally alter our spending plans, we have made a small number of changes to our previous plans to strengthen our existing support in some areas and to allocate additional funding to support delivery of our investment priorities.
During the discussion around our Budget for Growth and Jobs, there has been much focus on supporting young people into employment. That is why we are allocating an additional £20m in 2013-14, and a further £20m indicative amount in 2014-15, to extend support for apprenticeships. This allocation builds on the investments we have already made to support young people into employment including our previous allocations for Jobs Growth Wales and the support we have provided for our portfolio of apprenticeship programmes.
We are also allocating £10m funding (£1m in 2013-14 and £9m in 2014-15) to support the development of a science and research facility, led by Bangor University, and will be developing the detail of this proposal over the next few months.
In the Draft Budget 2013-14 we allocated £175m to support strategically important projects in line with the priorities set out in the Wales Infrastructure Investment Plan. We said then that we would look to make additional allocations and our Final Budget includes an additional £46.7m capital investment to further support delivery of our investment priorities. This comprises £16.7m to support the use of public sector land for housing and £30m to expand the Wales Economic Growth Fund.
Our Final Budget 2013-14 also includes funding to support a targeted scheme of business rate incentives which the Minister for Business, Enterprise, Technology and Science announced earlier this month. This scheme will be available across all Enterprise Zones in Wales.
The full detail of changes between Draft and Final Budget is set out in the Final Budget Explanatory Note.
Our spending plans have at their heart our commitment to fairness and equality. That is why we have reaffirmed our commitment to Equality Impact Assessments in Wales. In support of this, we are publishing an update of the Equality Impact Assessment as part of the Final Budget Explanatory Note. This update provides an account of the consideration we have given to the equality and socio-economic impacts of the changes to our budget proposals.
I have also published today a refresh of the Wales Infrastructure Investment Plan project pipeline. The pipeline includes a list of all Welsh Government programmes and projects where total scheme value exceeds £15m and if not already started, are due to begin within the next three years. The pipeline provides greater clarity and certainty to our delivery partners, highlighting planned investments and potential procurement opportunities – giving our partners the confidence to plan ahead.
It is important that this information is kept up to date to reflect the latest position of investments, so we will be refreshing the pipeline of investments every six months – the next update is due in May 2013.
Whilst we recognise that there are concerns around the delivery of our ambitious programme, we remain confident that our allocations are in the right place to deliver against our commitments as set out in the Programme for Government. This is not the time to hold back – these are challenging times and we believe this is a budget that meets the needs of Wales and seeks to maximise the impact of the resources available to us.
Our focus remains on delivering improved outcomes and standing up for the people of Wales in these tough times. We will do this by acting in the long term interests of the people of Wales, putting growth and jobs first but never losing sight of the other factors that are vital to people’s long term quality of life.
We are confident that our Final Budget 2013-14 reflects and supports the economic, social and environmental priorities for Wales and that our spending plans will support us to deliver our vision for Wales now and in the longer term.