Wales politics

Welsh budget: Extra £160m for NHS and councils

Council services

An extra £160m over two years is being given to the NHS and councils in Wales in the Welsh Government's final budget, the finance secretary has said.

Mark Drakeford said the additional funds were coming to Wales as a result of increased public spending in England - the so-called Barnett formula.

He said the day-to-day spending boost would "ease some of the pressures on frontline public services".

Councils were facing a cash cut of between 1.5% and 2% in their funding.

The announcement forms part of the final budget, which the Welsh Government will publish in detail on Tuesday.

Local government will be given an extra £20m in 2018-19 and £40m in 2019-20.

This is on top of the £3.3bn earmarked for councils in the draft budget in October, which outlined more than £15bn of Welsh Government spending.

Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) leader Debbie Wilcox has previously warned councils could not keep making the "harshest" of cuts while maintaining service levels.

Analysis by Nick Servini, BBC Wales political editor

It has taken months but we now know the final budget for Welsh public services next year and beyond.

Broadly speaking, it means there is more money for the NHS and Welsh councils than originally thought.

Context is everything when faced with a dizzying array of figures.

Local authority leaders say they need £60m for a cash flat settlement in 2019-20 - instead they will receive £40m.

And the extra £50m a year for the NHS next year would be enough in theory to clear the projected overspend facing Hywel Dda, just one of the Welsh health boards dealing with financial problems.

The Welsh NHS will get an extra £50m in each of the next two years to support services, primary care and the Integrated Care Fund which supports people to help them remain in their own home.

"I am pleased to be able to provide additional funding for public services - areas we know need extra support," said Mr Drakeford.

"This funding will help to ease some of the pressures on frontline public services, which have been struggling to cope as a result of the successive cuts to our budget, which we have experienced since 2010-11 thanks to the UK government's programme of austerity."

Decisions on extra money for capital projects will be announced in the spring, he added.

Image caption Mark Drakeford said in October he was delivering the priorities of the Welsh Government and the people

Conservative finance spokesman Nick Ramsay said the party was pleased to see the money being invested in key frontline services.

"As ever, the devil is always in the detail and we will examine closely where this funding is allocated, particularly after nearly two decades of budgets from the Labour Party which have failed to deliver increased prosperity and improved public services in Wales," he added.

Torfaen council leader Anthony Hunt - who speaks for the WLGA on finance - said the announcement "shows the value of a Welsh Government that values public services".

But he added that local government "still faces a huge challenge moving forward", claiming the extra cash represented one tenth of the funding councils needed to meet the pressure on local services.

Housing and homelessness

A change to the starting threshold for land transaction tax, which replaces stamp duty on home sales in Wales next April, was announced earlier in December.

The original plan was to scrap the tax on all home sales under £150,000 - the figure has now been raised to £180,000.

Extra money to combat youth homelessness was announced by First Minister Carwyn Jones on Sunday.

The budget will be put to a vote of the Senedd in January.

Plaid Cymru has already agreed to back Welsh Labour's spending plans to ensure the budget is passed.

Adam Price, Plaid's economy spokesman, said the extra money for local government was "a recognition of the pressures on local councils and is very much in line with the additional monies we negotiated for local government in last year's budget."

"Furthermore, additional investment into health, such as the Integrated Care Fund, reflects how an idea published by Plaid Cymru in the last assembly term has now become a key Welsh Government policy," he added.

More on this story