Mark Drakeford, Cabinet Secretary for Finance
The Chancellor of the Exchequer has today presented his first Spring Statement.
As previously announced, the UK Government has moved away from two annual budget events – the main spending and taxation decisions are now made in the autumn Budget. The Spring Statement provides an update about the economy and wider public finances based on the latest forecasts from the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR).
The main headline from today’s Spring Statement is that - the medium-term outlook for the UK economy continues to be disappointing. While the OBR has slightly upgraded its short-term economic forecasts, the UK is now lagging behind most of the world’s largest economies. At a time when economic growth across the Eurozone is growing at its fastest rate for a decade, growth across the UK is faltering.
The economy needs major new investment or the UK will continue to lag behind every other major advanced economy.
With the continued uncertainty created by the UK Government’s position on our future relationship with the EU, businesses need a government which is prepared to invest to support jobs and growth.
The Welsh Government today repeats its calls for the UK Government to end its failed policy of austerity, which continues to have a damaging impact on the UK economy and public services and is placing further pressures on living standards. The Resolution Foundation has calculated that living standards will not reach their pre-recession peak until 2025, resulting in 17 years of pain for UK households.
The Chancellor must set a new fiscal direction. The UK Government must release its self-imposed shackles in the autumn Budget and the Chancellor must provide the additional funding hard-pressed public services across the UK desperately need.
Last week the UK Government released almost half of the £1bn it allocated to Northern Ireland as part of the Conservative party’s agreement with the Democratic Unionist Party.
The Welsh Government is again calling on the UK Government to allocate additional consequential funding for all parts of the UK by respecting the established funding rules. We will continue to make the case for Wales to receive an additional £1.67bn – the consequential amount which would have come to Wales if the £1bn for Northern Ireland was Barnett-ised – through the joint disagreement which we raised with the Scottish Government.
The UK Government confirmed today that Wales will receive just over £21m in Barnett consequentials for 2018-19 as a result of the £3bn announced in the autumn Budget for Brexit preparedness.
We have already announced a £50m EU Transition Fund to help Welsh institutions, businesses and public sector prepare for Brexit.