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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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Welsh Govt calls again for decision over tax powers

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 wants to progress with major infrastructure improvements. Credit: David Jones/PA

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.

"A great step forward" to Welsh tax powers says Finance Minister

Welsh Finance Minister Jane Hutt says she's putting her "trust and confidence" in today's statement from the Treasury that the UK Government will devolve tax-raising and borrowing powers to the Welsh Government.

It's a great step forward, it is a recognition and as Danny Alexander, the Chief Secretary [to the Treasury] said, the final step to enable us to get those economic and financial levers to help us boost our economy. Today it is clear that the UK Government and the Treasury in particular wants to devolve this. Let's get over this little step in terms of consultation and then let's get the announcement.

– Finance Minister Jane Hutt AM

Ms Hutt said she was sure that the consultation on whether to devolve Stamp Duty, which is levied on property sales, would lead to that tax being included.

We have already consulted on stamp on Stamp Duty ... [the housebuilders] were up for both -devolve and reform Stamp Duty.

Closure of Barry food factory 'a terrible blow'

Premier Foods at Barry which is to close produces products for Hovis.

Local AM for Barry, Jane Hutt, says she will meet with Premier Foods following its announcement of the closure of its factory with the loss of 43 jobs.

Ms Hutt said it would be a terrible blow, "after a long history of providing jobs for local people at their site in the Docks.

"I will be meeting with the company, Premier Foods and the skilled workforce who are affected, regarding this announcement and will ensure that every avenue of support can be made available to them."

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Welsh Government says it's facing £280m cut

The spending review 'confirms the challenge' facing the Welsh Government, according to the Finance Minister. Jane Hutt says she was pleased to hear the Chancellor describe plans to improve the M4 as 'impressive' and that he would announce steps to give Welsh ministers borrowing powers soon.

But she says that changes announced today would mean the Welsh Government's budget for 2015-16 will be £280m lower when inflation is taken into account than its budget for 2014-16.

It’s also worth remembering that these cuts come on top of those we have already had to manage since 2010 - so by 2015-16, our Budget will be lower by £1,680m in real terms than it was in 2010-11.

I have repeatedly called on the UK Government to boost the funds available for capital investment so this is a disappointing capital settlement – which does not increase the funding available – will do little to boost the economy. This is a missed opportunity.

– Jane Hutt AM, Finance Minister

Jane Hutt has also described funds for capital investment as 'disappointing' and 'a missed opportunity' to boost the economy.

Our capital budget in 2015-16 will be a third lower in real terms than in 2009-10. And almost £180m of our capital, which is an unprecedented 12% of the total, is subject to restrictions and can only be used for loans and equity investments. This means that there is a cut in the funding available for real capital investment from 2014-15 to 2105-16 of more than 5% in real terms.

These are difficult times but as a responsible government we are resolute in our commitment to stand up for the interest of Wales.

– Jane Hutt AM, Finance Minister
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UK must borrow more says Welsh Finance Minister

Welsh Finance Minister Jane Hutt has called on the UK Government to borrow more money to boost the economy. She has signed a joint letter with the Scottish and Northern Irish Finance Ministers setting out what they want for their countries from Wednesday's spending announcement by the Chancellor.

They call for extra funds to pay for construction projects that would stimulate economic growth and create jobs. But they say their capital budgets should not be increased at the expense of other areas of spending. They claim that the benefits would justify a short term increase in borrowing.

The evidence is clear - well chosen public infrastructure investments can have both short term and, more importantly, sustained, long term benefits for the economy. That is why a key component of our response to the continuing weakness in the UK economy has been concerted action to boost infrastructure investment.

We have a range of priority infrastructure projects which can be brought forward to make use of additional resources and make a positive contribution to growth in the UK economy. We are now urging the UK Government to do all in their power to support the work we are undertaking by boosting our capital budgets to allow us to invest in the infrastructure we need to boost growth and create jobs

– Finance Minister Jane Hutt AM

Jane Hutt said that the letter followed what she called a 'useful discussion' between herself, Scotland's John Swinney, Sammy Wilson from Northern Ireland and the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander. But spending cuts are expected as a result of Wednesday's announcement.

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