Wales politics

Budget 2017: Mark Drakeford's plea over austerity cuts

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Media captionTurn your back on cuts, Mark Drakeford urges the chancellor

Wales' Finance Secretary has urged the Treasury to abandon austerity and boost cash for public services and the economy ahead of Wednesday's Budget.

Mark Drakeford outlined his concerns about the UK government's planned spending cuts, which he says could see a £175m cut to the Welsh budget.

He said the cuts were "unnecessary and counter-productive".

It comes as Chancellor Philip Hammond warned there would be no "spending sprees" in the Spring Budget.

In a letter to the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Mr Drakeford urged the UK Government to use the Budget to announce extra funding for health and social care services, which he said had faced significant pressure this winter.

He said: "I remain very concerned about the impact of further cuts to public spending and the UK government's intention to press ahead with £3.5bn of cuts in 2019-20.

"Our budget is already substantially lower in real terms than it was in 2010 as a result of the UK government's years of austerity - additional cuts on top of those we are already facing could mean a further £175m reduction to our budget.

"These cuts are unnecessary and counter-productive - now is the time for the UK government to end its damaging policy of austerity and provide a much-needed fiscal stimulus to boost economic confidence and support vital public services."

In the letter, Mr Drakeford also called on the UK government to sign the Swansea Bay City Deal, that promises to boost digital technology for advances in areas such as healthcare and energy.

He also urged UK ministers to take forward the Hendry Report on Tidal Energy, which backed plans for a tidal lagoon in Swansea Bay, and confirm that the electrification of the Great Western mainline to Swansea will be delivered immediately after electrification to Cardiff is completed next year.

Speaking to the BBC's Andrew Marr Show after ruling out "huge spending sprees" in a Sunday Times article ahead of his first Budget, Mr Hammond said any surplus cash would be used to ensure the UK had enough "gas in the tank" for the coming years.

He also acknowledged social care budgets were under particular pressure, but said this was "not just about money".

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