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Labour should set timetable to end unfair funding says First Minister

First Minister Carwyn Jones has called on the Labour party, as well as his opponents, to set out a timescale for delivering on the promise of fair funding for Wales, made in the St David's Day agreement on further devolution. He told his monthly news conference that it was important to know not just the value of the so-called funding floor but when it would be introduced.

The principle has been accepted and is welcome but then the principle was accepted a long time ago. What we need is a timescale now to see how Wales' underfunding will be addressed and that is true of all the parties, including my own. As a party we need to outline exactly how we will now take forward the issue of Wales' underfunding and that we could do that according to a set timetable.

– First Minister Carwyn Jones AM

Carwyn Jones added that he expected that the degree of unfairness in how Wales is funded, compared to the rest of the UK, is now less than the £300 million a year calculated by the Holtham Commission. He said adding a minimum proportion of public spending for Wales -a floor- to the Barnett Formula was the best way of stopping any future reduction in the Welsh share of Treasury money.

Meanwhile a survey of 7,000 people across the United Kingdom by Edinburgh shows that 68% of Welsh people believe that Wales receives less government funding than it is due. Only 43% in England think their country's treated unfairly, as do 44% in Scotland. in Northern Ireland, it's 37%. The figures have been seized on by Plaid Cymru, which is calling for funding parity with Scotland and says that could be worth an extra £1.2 billion a year to Wales.

This extensive survey vindicates Plaid Cymru’s unique position in making the case for Wales to have parity with Scotland – in terms of funding and powers. Everyone accepts that Wales is the poor relation in the UK in terms of funding for schools and hospitals, but only Plaid Cymru demands that Wales is treated on the basis of equality. The Barnett Formula was introduced in 1978 – by Labour – and ever since, our funding disadvantage has been entrenched. That’s decades of Wales not receiving its fair share of resources. The Westminster parties have all signed up to retaining that formula. Plaid Cymru says it’s unjustifiable for Wales to continue to be short-changed.

– Plaid Cymru Leader Leanne Wood AM

Prime Minister rejects Wales funding change call

The Prime Minister has told MPs that change to the way that Wales is funded isn't 'on the horizon.' David Cameron said that the current arrangements will become less important as the Welsh Government gets more control over raising its own finances through taxes.

He was being questioned about the next steps for devolution by the chairs of committees in the House of Commons. Monmouth MP, David TC Davies, who chairs the Welsh Affairs committee, asked him if the so-called Barnett Formula will be scrapped.

You can see the Prime Minister's answer in the video below:


Wales should get share of HS2 funding says Plaid

Plaid Cymru is hoping to use today's debate on the controversial HS2 rail scheme to ensure extra money is given to Wales as a result. Jonathan Edwards MP has tabled amendments to the legislation paving the way for HS2 which will be voted on in the Commons today.

He says his amendment will be 'the last chance to enshrine in law' the principle that the Welsh Government should be receive funding equivalent to 5% of the cost of the project.

Plaid Cymru has fought a three year long campaign to ensure that Wales receives a fair share from HS2. The cost of the network has doubled over the summer to over £40bn according to the Treasury’s own estimates. Independent assessments by the Institute for Economic Affairs put the cost of HS2 at over £80bn. A fair share for Wales therefore would be between £3bn and £4bn.

Historically, Wales has been poorly served by Westminster Governments when it comes to transport infrastructure in our country – receiving less than half of what our population share would dictate. It’s no wonder that our transport systems are so poor.

– Jonathan Edwards MP, Plaid Cymru


Treasury says Wales did get some HS2 money but won't get much more

The Treasury has issued a further statement on the disagreement between Welsh and UK Governments over extra spending as a result of the HS2 rail scheme. Click here to read the background.

The Treasury now agrees that the Welsh Government HAS received a relatively small amount of extra money (£35m) because the Department for Transport's cash for HS2 came too late to change the formula used to decide how much money Wales gets.

But it's made clear the formula will be changed before there's any major spending on HS2 which means that Wales won't get any extra money if the project finally gets the go-ahead. A Treasury source described the dispute as 'overplayed.'

At the Spending Round in June, the Welsh Govt received a capital consequential of £84.5m. This was based on a £2bn increase in the total DfT capital budget. The Barnett formula calculation used the framework set out at the Spending Review in 2010, which set out 73.1% per cent of changes in DfT spending are subject to Barnett consequential for the Welsh Government. The framework is expected to be updated at the next full Spending Review, as is usual practice, and will reflect the latest information on departmental spending.

– Treasury spokesperson

Welsh Government insists it's right in Treasury dispute

A Welsh Government spokesman has further clarified why Finance Minister Jane Hutt is sticking to her guns in a disagreement with the UK Treasury. The dispute is over whether or not Wales has received a share of spending on the controversial HS2 rail scheme.

Jane Hutt has already told ITV Cymru Wales that she stands by her claim as set out in a letter to the Finance Committee. Now a Welsh Government spokesman has underlined her position.

The Finance Minister's letter to the Assembly's Finance Committee is accurate. At the Spending Round in June, the UK Government allocated funding for HS2 in 2015-16 through the UK Department for Transport capital budget. This contributed to an overall increase in the DfT capital budget from £7.5bn to £9.5bn in 2015-16 - a £2bn increase. This increase includes funding for HS2. The Welsh Government received a capital consequential of £84.5m from the £2bn overall increase in the DfT capital budget.

Finance Minister stands by HS2 funding claim

Finance Minister Jane Hutt is standing by her claim that the Treasury has given the Welsh Government extra money as a result of spending on the controversial HS2 rail scheme.

She'd told the Assembly's Finance Committee that £84m was passed on in the recent Spending Review as a result of Department for Transport capital spending including HS2. The Treasury has disputed that claim.

But in this short interview with Lynn Courtney, Jane Hutt insists that the money - known as Barnett Consequentials after the formula used to work out Wales' share of UK Government funds - does reflect Westminster's spending on HS2.

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