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Chancellor's caused uncertainty for first time buyers in Wales says Welsh minister

Mark Drakeford was questioned in the Senedd about how he'd respond to the Chancellor's tax-break for first time buyers. Credit: Senedd TV

Finance Secretary Mark Drakeford says he will reflect on how to respond to the Chancellor's decision to exempt first time buyers from stamp duty, unless they're buying a home worth more than £300,000.

If he takes no action, the tax break will end for Welsh first time buyers next April, when stamp duty will be replaced in Wales by Land Transaction Tax, payable on the purchase of all properties worth over £150,000.

Professor Drakeford was asked by the Tory Group AM Mark Reckless if Welsh first time buyers would have to rush to buy their homes.

They will not be knocked over in the rush because the number of first time buyers in Wales, who are buying home worth £300,000, means that it will be perfectly possible to form an orderly queue.

I will do my best to resolve the uncertainty created by the Chancellor today by coming forward with proposals that I will [first] reflect on.

– Finance Secretary Mark Drakeford AM

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£400 million extra "won't meet needs of Wales" says Finance Secretary

Mark Drakeford gave his instant response to the Auntmn Statement to AMs Credit: Senedd TV

Finance Minister Mark Drakeford has told AMs that the Welsh Government will make the most of extra money from the Chancellor. But he added that £400 million over five years was not going to meet the needs of Wales.

The Chancellor should grasp the urgent need to invest in the UK economy

– Finance Secretary Mark Drakeford AM

Mr Drakeford said the money announced today wouldn't make upo to the 33% cut in the Welsh Government's capital budget since 2010. It's currently £1.5 billion a year.

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  1. Nick Powell

Plaid "unfit for government" say Labour

Labour have accused Plaid Cymru of bringing the Assembly into disrepute, following the defeat of the Public Health Bill.

The decision from Plaid today smacks of a party unfit for Government. The only thing that has changed since last week's Stage 3 vote on the Public Health Bill is a single off-the-cuff remark in a jokey final plenary session. To vote down an important Bill on this basis alone simply brings the entire institution into disrepute. People in Wales have just lost a series of important new health measures, which had been worked upon for years. We could have broken the pairing agreement to get this through, but that is not the way we do business. Elin Jones has clearly been put in an impossible position by her group and that is deeply regrettable as she has done so much to shape the final proposals.

– Welsh Labour source

The Health Minister, Mark Drakeford, said he was "deeply disappointed" and predicted "widespread anger" at the bill's defeat. He said five years of careful preparation had been wasted.

[The Public Health Bill] would have introduced important new measures to improve the provision of pharmacy services across Wales and the provision of public toilets for young and old. It would have introduced a ban on intimate piercing for children under 16 and new outdoor smoke-free places in hospital grounds, children's playgrounds and schools.

– Health Minister Mark Drakford AM

Mr Drakeford also defended the controversial attempt to restrict the use of e-cigarettes, which are seen by many AMs as a way of helping people to stop smoking. He said he'd wanted to "protect a generation who have grown up in a smoke-free environment from re-normalising smoking".

"If Wales isn't worse, you've nothing to fear" - Hunt

UK Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has replied to the Welsh Health Minister, Mark Drakeford, who'd accused him of leaking correspondence and trying to politicise an independent survey of the NHS in all parts of the United Kingdom by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

I was disappointed to receive your letter of today's date.

There is no attempt whatsoever to subvert an independent OECD report - on the contrary we would like it to go ahead so that all parts of the UK NHS can learn from each other.

I believe transparency can be the biggest single driver of improvement in healthcare but the actions of the Welsh administration in blocking the visit by OECD analysts suggest you believe otherwise.

Earlier this year, the Welsh Government gave written agreement to participate in the four nations review in response to a letter from me. In that letter, I set out a detailed timetable for the review, which included the provision that the final report should be available to all four countries from mid-February of next year.

But on a matter as important as this I do not agree with you that their findings should be withheld from the public. This is a significant piece of research that will be of benefit to healthcare quality throughout the UK. The quality of the piece of work will suffer hugely without the ability to benchmark and contrast the performance of the four home nations and I believe we owe it to taxpayers who fund the NHS to show we are willing to learn from other parts of the UK as to where our performance can be improved. So I would urge you again in the strongest terms to allow the publication to go ahead.

You claim repeatedly that the NHS in Wales is not performing worse than the NHS in England -in which case you have nothing to fear from open and independent scrutiny of the NHS in the four home nations. But your actions suggest you really believe the opposite to be the case -otherwise why would the Welsh government cancel a pre-arranged OECD study visit at short notice? Independent scrutiny of healthcare quality for the benefit of patients should be above party politics. I urge you to think about patients in Wales before you take a decision with huge ramifications for the quality of the care they receive.

– Letter from Jeremy Hunt MP
  1. Lynn Courtney

Health Minister: 90% support smoking ban in cars carrying children

The Health Minister, Mark Drakeford AM, says despite an increase in the numbers of people who don't smoke in cars when children are present there is still a stubborn percentage of people who still do. He says he wants to close that gap and introducing the law will make the final difference.

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