The Welsh Government has announced that the Draft Budget for 2023-24 will help to protect public services, as well as the most vulnerable people in communities as the entire United Kingdom continues to navigate the cost of living crisis.
Following the publication of the three-year budget last year, this year’s Draft Budget will build that by reprioritising funding from Welsh Government budgets and allocating funding from the UK Government in the Autumn Statement. The main of this is to maximise support for public services and for those people and businesses who are being the most affected by the cost of living crisis and recession.
Local government is to be allocated an additional £227 million to ensure the protection of crucial services being provided by the councils, including schools. This will also go alongside the delivery of the Real Living Wage in social care settings and £18.8 million that will enable the Discretionary Assistance Fund, providing lifeline emergency cash payments to those in financial hardship. NHS Wales will also be allocated an additional £165 million to help protect their frontline services.
Education is to be boosted by a further £28 million worth of funding to help strengthen the sector, improve standards in schools, help children with additional learning needs, and to support children whose families are on lower incomes. Local government will given the full £117 million that was allocated for education spending in the Autumn Statement to fund this support.
Transport will also be supported, with £40 million being allocated to support the creation of a sustainable and greener public transport system, with the ambition of achieving the Welsh Government’s net zero ambitions by 2050.
Welsh Minister for Finance and Local Government, Rebecca Evans, 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.”
To read more about the Welsh Government’s plans for supporting public services through the cost of living crisis, check out the latest edition of the PSE Magazine, where Rebecca Evans provided an important contribution.