At Autumn Budget, the Chancellor today (22 November 2017) set out plans to increase the Welsh Governments budget by 1.2 billion and build an economy that is fit for the future.
This increased funding includes for the first time a 5% Barnett boost totalling 67 million, as agreed in the Welsh Governments Fiscal Framework. This Budget ensures that the Welsh Government is fairly funded and its block grant will increase in real terms over the Spending Review Period between 2015 and 2020.
The people of Wales will see real life benefits. This money will ensure the Welsh Government has the means to grow its economy, attract investment, maintain its public services and support hard-working people across Wales.
From next year Stamp Duty and Landfill tax will be devolved to the Welsh Government, providing them revenue raising powers worth over 250 million. For the first time at Autumn Budget, the UK government will adjust the Welsh Governments block grant to take this into account, giving the Welsh Government more responsibility over setting some of its taxes.
The Autumn Budget also includes targeted measures which will benefit Wales directly. As well as continuing to support the Cardiff and Swansea City Deals by investing 615 million over the next 20 years, the Chancellor today announced that the UK government is open to proposals for a mid-Wales Growth Deal and would begin formal negotiations for a North Wales Growth Deal. Once agreed, these will build on the strengths of those regions and boost the local economy.
West Wales will become better connected from an investment in transport upgrades that will provide direct services from Pembroke Dock to London via Carmarthen on new state of the art Intercity Express trains. The Chancellor has also outlined future work to develop proposals for other potential rail schemes right across the Wales network.
Charities across Wales will benefit with more than 660,000 of LIBOR funding raised from fines levied on banks being distributed to good causes, including the Care and Repair North East Wales Limited which supports training and employment opportunities for veterans.
To support people across the country, the UK government is freezing fuel duty for the eighth year in a row, which will save the average driver in Wales nearly 9 every time they fill up their car. From April 2018, the National Living Wage will be increased from 7.50 to 7.83 delivering a 600 annual pay-rise to a full-time Welsh worker.
The personal allowance the amount you can earn before you start paying income tax will rise from 11,500 to 11,850 in April 2018, and the higher rate income threshold will rise to 46,350. In 2018-19, increases the government has made to the personal allowance and higher rate threshold will benefit over 1.4 million people in Wales who will have gained by an average of 183, compared to 2015-16. There will also be an additional 2.3 billion spent on UK-wide R&D in 2021/22.
Secretary of State for Wales, Alun Cairns said:
The Chancellor has today set out a powerful package of measures which will help shape Wales economy into one that is fit for the future.
The commitment to formally enter into negotiations over a growth deal for North Wales as well as kick starting early discussions for a growth deal for Mid Wales are significant pan-Wales announcements. The move to improve rail services for businesses, workers and visitors from both sides of the Wales-England border, taken with the abolition of the Severn Tolls is also a clear demonstration of the UK governments ambition to move the Welsh economy into the fast lane.
The Welsh Government regularly calls for a boost to their capital budgets and today, the UK government has again delivered funding that can deliver real change. They must now get on with the job of using the levers at their disposal to improve the lives of the people of Wales by building the homes our country needs, building the road network Wales deserves and make real progress in improving standards across our public services.
Taken together, there can be no doubt that this UK government Budget that delivers for Wales.