Welsh Senedd at night

Protection of public services must be front and centre of new Welsh Government budget

Wales’ Finance Minister, Rebecca Evans, has stated that Wales’ budget must focus on the protection of public services and supporting those who are the most vulnerable, as the Senedd looks to debate the Final Budget for 2023-24.

The Senedd’s debate on the Final Budget will take place later today, with the Chancellor unveiling the Spring Budget on the 15th March. Ahead of the debate, an extra £227 million has been allocated for local governments to continue their services through the current financial situation, as well as a further £165 million for the NHS. £460 million over two years will also form a support package for businesses.

Another major topic of debate for later today will be the plans to keep taxes lower, to ensure that people who are already facing inflation and higher energy bills aren’t met with the sucker punch of further increases. This will cover the Local Government Settlement and the Welsh Income Tax.

The Finance Minister 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 Welsh Government has specified that this budget is being delivered with the wider context of mounting financial pressures, as evidenced by the reduction of the Welsh Government’s budget value by up to £1 billion. Funding restrictions following Brexit have also led to a shortfall of over £1.1 billion between 2021 and 2025.

Speaking on the financial pressures, 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 off the cost of its energy price support being less than first thought to maintain the Energy Price Guarantee at £25,00 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.”

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