The Welsh Government has welcomed the agreement on how the next £2 billion of European aid will be spent in Wales. The minister who negotiated the deal, Jane Hutt, says that it will deliver real economic growth and jobs.
This announcement is a significant milestone with the European Commission confirming Structural Fund allocations to Wales of over £2 billion. This is great news for Wales and this new EU funding will have a real impact on the Welsh economy and job creation. It will help us deliver more innovative and inspiring EU-funded projects.
There's been criticism that previous rounds of European aid have been spent on too many small projects, which though worthwhile in themselves did not improve the prosperity of West Wales and the Valleys. The area remains one of the poorest parts of the entire European Union.
Whilst this funding will be welcomed, we must not forget that it has only been granted due to the failure of successive Welsh Labour Governments to improve Wales’ economic performance in previous tranches. Back in 2000, former First Minister Rhodri Morgan described Objective 1 funding as a ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity. Well here we are again, and under Welsh Labour parts of Wales remain amongst the poorest areas in the EU, never mind the United Kingdom
One of the main beneficiaries of the new funding will be the South East Wales metro plan to improve public transport, after the Welsh Government successfully argued in Brussels that some of the money had to be spent on transport if the aid programme was to achieve any lasting economic improvement.
According to Finance Minister, Jane Hutt, the UK Government's Budget is another missed opportunity for Wales doing nothing to boost economic growth.
But the Minister did welcome confirmation that the Wales Bill will be published tomorrow and said that this was an important step forward for Wales.
Since 2010 we have seen record breaking cuts to the Welsh Budget. By 2015/2016 , it will be 10% lower than when the current UK Government came to office in 2010.
This Budget delivers some small increases but also brings significant additional burdens. It gives with one hand but takews away with the other.
The Chancellor has given Wales an additional £36m over the next two years. But at the same time we are being forced to find at least another £70m from our Budget over the same period to cover public sector pension costs
On the day the Assembly votes on the Welsh Government's spending plans, Finance Minister , Jane Hutt has announced proposals to speed up the school rebuilding programme.
She says the 200 million pounds spend for the scheme will mainly come from Local Council's borrowing powers.
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.
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.
Plaid Cymru's Treasury spokesman, Jonathan Edwards MP, says that he hopes Finance Minister Jane Hutt is right in the dispute with the Treasury over extra funding as a share of spending on the HS2 rail project.
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 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.
Finance Minister Jane Hutt tells the UK Government to 'get on with it' and give the Welsh Government powers to borrow money. It comes a year after both governments agreed in principle to the move.
Wales' Finance Minister has called on the UK Government to "clear the political blockages delaying the devolution of vital tax varying and borrowing powers to Wales." She claims it would allow the Welsh Government to move ahead with plans for a relief road around for the M4 at Newport.
Jane Hutt is making the call exactly a year to the day since the Welsh and UK Governments agreed a deal to progress reform to how Wales is funded.
The Welsh Government needs the UK Government to devolve the borrowing and tax varying powers recommended by the Silk Commission before it can progress with major infrastructure improvements, including the South Wales Metro and proposals to build an M4 relief road in Newport.
The UK Government had committed to deliver a response to the Silk Commission's recommendations to part one of their work in the spring but, they've launched a consultation on one recommendation - to devolve stamp duty.