Budget plea for 'long overdue investment' in Wales

  • Published
Rebecca Evans
Image caption,
Rebecca Evans says the UK government needs to show it is "serious about levelling up" prosperity across the country

UK ministers should use the Budget this week to "deliver major, long overdue investment in Wales", the Welsh Government has said.

Finance Minister Rebecca Evans called for "sustained investment" in public services and reversal of welfare cuts.

She urged Chancellor Rishi Sunak to give Wales its "fair share" of rail investment and a boost in research and development spending.

The UK government said its funding for Wales would go up by £600m next year.

The Budget will be delivered on Wednesday, having been postponed from November because of the general election campaign.

Mr Sunak has only had a few weeks to prepare for it, due to the surprise resignation of his predecessor Sajid Javid in February.

Following the Conservatives' election victory in December, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has spoken of his plan to "level up" prosperity across every region of the UK.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Rishi Sunak will deliver his first budget just 27 days after being appointed chancellor

In a letter to the new chancellor ahead of the Budget, Ms Evans said: "If the UK government is serious about levelling up, now is the time to deliver major, long overdue investment in Wales.

She called on the UK government to "make good on its previous commitments to ensure Wales receives its fair share of rail investment and to boost research and development spending, which is so important to our economy".

With both the UK and Welsh governments having declared a climate emergency, the finance minister called for "decisive support into research and development for industrial decarbonisation and further investment in the energy system".

She also called for "unequivocal guarantees in this budget" that the UK government will replace the £375m that Wales gets annually from EU funds.

Ms Evans reiterated in her letter the Welsh Government's demand for extra funding to deal with the impact of flooding, and also said effective planning for coronavirus was likely to require extra cash from the Treasury.

Boris Johnson said last week his government was committed to working "flat out" with the Welsh Government to ensure money will be "passported through" to help deal with flooding in affected areas of Wales.

First Minister Mark Drakeford has said an estimate of £180m would be needed for repairs in Rhondda Cynon Taff alone.

A UK government spokesman said: "This Budget will deliver on the promises made to the British people, and will level up opportunities across all regions and nations of the UK.

"At the Spending Round in September 2019, we announced that the Welsh Government's block grant will increase by over £600m next year."