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Budget 2015: Parties clash on what it will mean for Wales

The Wales Office has set our how the UK Government claims Wales will benefit from the Budget. Key points include:

  • The increased income tax allowance means 1.2 million Welsh people will be an average £561 better off in 2017 than in 2010.
  • Motorists will benefit from the abolition of VAT on Severn Bridges tolls.
  • Talks about a guaranteed price for electricity from a Swansea Bay tidal lagoon could lead to investment in the Welsh economy and the crration of new jobs.
  • An extra £18 milion for the Welsh Government to spend in 2015-16.

This is a Budget to help secure Wales' future. It is a Budget that will cement the economic recovery in Wales, that backs business in Wales and that will make a real difference to the lives of hardworking people right across our nation. It comes on the day that unemployment is falling and more people in Wales are benefiting from the security of a meaningful job, a regular wage and a better standard of living.

– Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb MP

But the Shadow Welsh Secretary, Owen Smith, condemned what he called "another dodgy budget from this dodgy Tory Chancellor".

Wales can only look forward to more cuts if the Tories win again in May. The Office of Budget Responsibility confirms that George Osborne is now planning to make even bigger cuts to public services in the next Parliament than he made in this one. That will mean massive cuts to Wales and to the police, the schools and the hospitals that we all rely on. There is no way that Wales can afford five more years of the Tories and Liberals bunging tax cut to their mates in the hedge funds, while increasing VAT and prices for working class families.

– Shadow Welsh Secretary Owen Smith MP

Plaid Cymru's Treasury spokesperson, Jonathan Edwards, also accused the Chancellor of "sharpening the axe for billions more cuts to public services".

This was a 'jam tomorrow' Budget from a Chancellor who is busy sharpening the axe ready for the next parliament. The pre-election giveaways designed to pander to the Tory core vote mask the reality that in the next Parliament, our public services are set to suffer billions more austerity cuts supported by Labour.

– Plaid Cymru Treasury Spokesman Jonathan Edwards MP

The Liberal Democrats highlighted the increased income tax allowance as one of their policies, achieved by going into coalition with the Conservatives. However, they said that it wasn't enough to merely remove the VAT on the Severn Bridges tolls.

Yet again, we’re delivering further on our flagship income tax cut – straight from the front page of our manifesto into the pockets of millions of low and middle income workers. This is the first time the UK Government has recognised the detrimental impact tolls have on jobs and businesses across south Wales, and I very much welcome that. But Liberal Democrats would go much further, and if in government after the election we would scrap the tolls completely once the bridges return to public ownership in 2018.

– Welsh Liberal Democrat MP Jenny Willott

Budget 2015: Cardiff City Deal 'to drive economic growth'

The Conservatives say negotiations will begin for Cardiff to secure a 'City Deal' - a scheme that aims to "empower local areas to drive economic growth by providing them with additional freedoms and resources."

This moves the ambitions of Cardiff up a notch and this announcement today means access to funding to make that possible.

The City Deal is already forecast to have huge benefits on the economies of Greater Manchester, Leeds and Glasgow, and it’s predicted that Cardiff could match the economic benefits that Glasgow has received.

It’s great to be putting together a meeting with private sector business leaders from across Cardiff and the Cities Minister, Greg Clark MP, next Friday. It’s important that the public and private sectors work together to ensure the full potential of the City Deal for Cardiff is met and we secure the investment to make this possible.

– Craig Williams, Conservative parliamentary candidate for Cardiff North

Cardiff Council says the scheme could see the city receive "substantial sums in extra funding to spend on infrastructure projects aimed at boosting the city and the city region’s economy."

This is a major step forward for the City Council and for the city region.

Glasgow established a precedent for devolved nations when it received a City Deal worth £1.13billion. Around £500m of that was new money which came from Westminster.

The City Deal will involve an injection of fresh funding above the Barnett Formula. Money we otherwise wouldn’t receive.

This City Deal recognises the role Cardiff plays in creating jobs and driving the economy of South East Wales. Securing this deal will give a massive boost to the Welsh economy.

– Phil Bale, Cardiff Council leader

Budget 2015: 'Missed opportunity on Wales' underfunding'

Wales' Finance Minister has responded to today's Budget announcement saying it was the 'fifth opportunity missed to resolved Wales' underfunding'.

In 2009, it was claimed the Welsh Government was being underfunded by Westminster to the tune of around £300m, but it's believed that gap has since narrowed.

Jane Hutt said the announcement of support to Swansea's tidal lagoon project and a Cardiff City deal for the capital is welcomed but added 'much more could have been achieved by now'.

“The Chancellor has given an additional £18m of consequentials to Wales during 2015-16. We’ll be considering how we allocate this additional funding to meet our priorities for Wales and will be making an announcement in the near future. “Ahead of the Budget, I wrote to the Chancellor of the Exchequer setting out our priorities for Wales. I highlighted the potential for investment in the North Wales Connectivity project and the South Wales Metro. As a Government, we are determined that Wales should not lose out to the rest of the UK in terms of infrastructure investment.

– Jane Hutt AM, Finance Minister

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Budget 2015: Tidal lagoon support 'hugely significant'

Credit: Tidal Lagoon (Swansea Bay) plc

The leader of Swansea Council says support from the UK Government for the world's first tidal lagoon project is "hugely significant" for the city.

Cllr Rob Stewart says Chancellor George Osborne’s Budget announcement about the proposal, which will be built in Swansea Bay, could be beneficial for the economy.

The Chancellor said discussions will now start in earnest, which will help take the £1bn proposal a step closer to fruition.

His announcement comes within months of the UK Government including the project in its National Infrastructure Plan.

This is a project that will help transform the Swansea Bay City Region’s economy and put Swansea on the map as an exemplar for renewable energy production.

It could also generate many hundreds of jobs for local people and further raise Swansea’s profile across the planet as a forward-thinking city of innovation. This isn’t just new technology for Swansea and the UK – it’s a world first that’s being proposed right on our doorstep.

– Cllr Stewart, Swansea Council

Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb also responded to the announcement in today's Budget, describing the lagoon project as a "once in a generation opportunity."

  1. Nick Powell

Budget 2015: VAT on Severn tolls to end

The Wales Office has confirmed that Seven Bridges tolls are expected to fall when the crossings return to public ownership because VAT would no longer be levied. The tax represents just over £1 of the present £6.50 toll for cars and more than £3 of the £19.60 paid by lorries. The Chancellor also announced that the present £13.10 for small vans and buses would be reduced to the same toll as is charged for cars.

Today's announcement is great news for small businesses but also for the many hardworking people in South Wales who cross the Severn Bridge every day for work. We are determined to do everything possible to support the Welsh economy by improving connectivity in all ways, from road to rail through to strong electronic links.

– Wales Office Minister Alun Cairns MP

The private company that built the Second Severn Crossing will hand back the tolls when the construction costs have been paid off. That's now expected to happen in 2018.

Budget 2015: Impact of income tax allowance rise in Wales

More than 1.2 million people in Wales will see an average real term gain of more than £500, following George Osborne's announcement to raise the income tax threshold.

During the Budget speech, he said personal tax-free allowance will increase to £10,800 next year and £11,000 the year after.

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