Extra social care spending for Wales?

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There are no concrete indications yet about how the Welsh Government is planning to spend the extra £200m it will receive over the next four years.

The pressure points are clear.

Most of the extra money is the result of more spending on social care in England.

Welsh local authorities are making a big push to get some of that cash as well.

The feeling among councils is that the NHS has been at the front of the queue in recent years on budget days and they feel it is now their turn, particularly in light of the ageing population and the introduction of the national living wage which has had a major impact in the care sector.

Priority

The Finance Secretary Mark Drakeford gave me a stock response that cabinet would make a final decision but the overall sense was that social care would be a priority.

In fact, Mr Drakeford wrote to Philip Hammond ahead of the budget drawing his attention to the need to invest in social care so it would be strange to say the least if he chose to ignore it now.

Conservatives MPs have called for some of the money to be used to help cushion the blow of business rate rises in some areas after the revaluation of properties.

Mark Drakeford gave a strong impression that the Welsh Government feels it has done enough already.

A £10 transitional relief fund will be available to all firms after April in Wales and a separate £10m high street relief fund will offer cash payments to firms, depending on their size.

We now have something of an annual routine on budget day from the Welsh Government calling for an end to austerity.

The same has happened now but there was no real surprise in Cardiff Bay that the Chancellor kept a lid on spending as he builds a war chest ahead of Brexit and the triggering of Article 50 which is a matter of weeks away.

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