Highlighting the lack of support for economic growth and the UK Government’s continuing austerity plans for families in Wales, the Minister gave her assurance that the Welsh Government would continue to do all they could to assist the Welsh economy, mitigate the worst impacts of the UK Government’s actions and protect the most vulnerable.
Finance Minister Jane Hutt said:
“This is a disappointing Budget and not one which will support economic growth in Wales or the UK as a whole. What we wanted to see today was a Budget for jobs and growth, with significantly increased or at least, brought forward, capital expenditure. The Chancellor did neither.
“We had provided the UK Government with details of a number of schemes across Wales which are "shovel-ready", but following this Budget they will have to wait – remembering that we face a 40% plus cut in our capital grants between 2010 - 2015 from the UK Government.
“Not only will this impact on the construction industry and local supply chains but it will also delay key projects like road improvements and hospital improvements. Key public services for all people across Wales.
“Last year the OBR forecast growth at 2.5%, this is now revised down to 0.8% and cuts to spending deepen over the next 7 years. This will take money out of the economy and reduce living standards further.
“The lack of action on fuel duty will impact on all Welsh citizens and particularly hit hard our rural areas.
“I am also very concerned about the impact of the UK Government’s austerity plans on families in Wales, and as the Fawcett Society reported yesterday, on women. This leaves us is no doubt that families are facing a big squeeze in their living standards. The prospects of a further £10billion of cuts to the welfare budget in the next Spending Review are horrific.
“I want to reassure people that I will continue to do my very best to mitigate the worst impacts and protect the most vulnerable.
“I do welcome the announcement of Enhanced Capital Allowances in our Deeside Enterprise Zone and the additional funding for ultra-fast broadband in Cardiff. It is also welcome news that the UK Government will work with the Welsh Government to consider the electrification of the Cardiff Valley rail lines and will increase support for the armed forces.”
Commenting on the Chancellor’s plans for regional pay Jane Hutt added:
“The Welsh Government does not support the Chancellor’s plans to pay Welsh workers less than workers in other parts of the UK and we would encourage the UK Government to close the gap in income between different parts of the UK, not make it worse.
“Public service workers across the UK work hard, often in difficult circumstances. Nurses, teachers and police officers should not be penalised because of where they live.
“To repeat, this is not a Budget which will meet the need of Wales’ economy or its citizens. At a time when most people are being squeezed by rising prices, frozen incomes and reduced benefits, this Budget is not what the UK or Wales needs.”