This is despite the worst capital settlement of any part of the UK with the UK Government making a 42.6% real terms cut in the Welsh Government’s capital budget over the next 4 years.
The First Minister said capital investment in major infrastructure underpins the Welsh Government’s commitment to boost growth in the economy, support the hard pressed construction industry and provide the conditions necessary to allow the private sector to grow and create jobs.
Back in March, the Welsh Government announced the major projects that have been progressing throughout 2011-12. These planned capital investments are on track to spend over £780m this financial year. They include:
- £144m in education
- £259m in health & social services
- £95m in business, enterprise, technology & science
- £234m in transport
- £46m local government
These sums are in addition to over £100m from Centrally Retained Capital (CRC) to support departmental priorities.
The First Minister will announce a series of measures later this week on the concerted action the Welsh Government is taking to help individuals and businesses in Wales deal with the impact of the economic downturn and global financial crisis.
The First Minister said:
“Despite the UK Government’s decision to cut the money available to us to invest in new schools, hospitals, roads and other major project, I am absolutely determined to ensure that the government I lead invests in our national infrastructure.
“We are committed to invest over £780m in new schools, new hospitals and other major infrastructure across the country, this financial year, which is now being translated into visible construction work on sites across Wales.
“Nearly £700m of capital investment is planned in health over the next three years. On the 26th of May, the Health Minister, Lesley Griffiths, announced £77m capital investment in the redevelopment of Ysbyty Glan Clwyd and an additional £2.8m was announced on 20 July to develop renal services in north Powys.
“In addition, the Finance Minister, Jane Hutt will also be shortly announcing almost £90m of capital investment for the next phase of CRC funded projects for 2012-13 and 2013-14; £34m has recently been announced by the Environment Minister, John Griffiths on waste and sustainability schemes and in education, the Education Minister, Leighton Andrews will be announcing a new programme of investment in 21st Century Schools in December.
“This clearly shows that we are investing in major projects that are benefitting the Welsh economy.”
The First Minister said that all future capital investment must be focused on maximising sustainable benefits for the Welsh economy while also bringing about improvement in services, so we can deliver within our finite resources.
The First Minister continued:
“Our commitment to the construction sector is absolutely clear. That’s why we’ve expended our Economic Renewal Programme’s priority sectors to include the construction industry, which has an estimated 10,000 businesses employing 100,000 people in Wales. It has a pivotal role to play in the delivery of affordable housing, improved transportation infrastructure, better schools and hospitals and green energy infrastructure.
“We are currently working on a Welsh Infrastructure Investment Plan. The plan will identify key infrastructure priorities in Wales; enable the prioritisation between infrastructure sectors so that we optimise value for money and positively encourage the private sector to invest in Wales by providing greater clarity and certainty of our medium-term and longer-term investment priorities."
The First Minister will convene a meeting of the Welsh Government’s Council for Economic Renewal on Wednesday, which will co-ordinate effort to use all the levers at our disposal to support the recovery and growth of the Welsh economy.
The First Minister added:
“The deterioration in the UK and global economic position is stark. That is why over the next few weeks, my Government will be bringing forward a series of announcements to protect and support the Welsh economy. These announcements – together with strategic investment in capital projects – will reduce red tape on businesses, support the flailing construction sector and help the Welsh economy deal with the ongoing global and serious economic problems.”