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Draft budget: Health and education see spending increases

Spending on health and education will see big increases as a result of decisions set out in the Welsh Government's draft budget.

Local councils will see their funding protected but when inflation is taken into account, the settlement will effectively be a cut.

The biggest percentage increase will be for the economy and infrastructure - in other words jobs, roads and communications projects like broadband.

In the main section of the budget, covering £13.5 billion of the £15 billion total, spending will change as follows next year:

  • Health £7.04 billion (+2.5%)
  • Local Government £4.32 billion (-1.5%)
  • Communities & Children £0.37 billion (+1.9%)
  • Economy & Infrastructure £0.78 billion (+8.6%)
  • Education £1.49 billion (+1.3%)
  • Environment & Rural Affairs £0.28 billion (+0.3%)
  • Central Services & Administration £0.28 billion (-9.7%)

Percentage cuts and increases have been adjusted for inflation. These figures do not include capital expenditure and over £1 billion of demand-led expenditure.

The Welsh Government says its budget was developed 'against the backdrop of the outcome of the EU referendum' and will provide 'stability and ambition in uncertain times'.

It has outlined six key commitments in line with its five-year programme Taking Wales Forward, including investment in new apprenticeships and a tax cut for small businesses:

  • £111m for apprenticeships and traineeships to start delivering the commitment to create 100,000 all-age apprenticeships
  • A £100m tax cut for small businesses
  • £10m to support pilot childcare projects as part of the commitment to provide 30 hours of free childcare a week for working parents of three to four-year-olds
  • A £20m boost to raising school standards as part of our commitment to provide £100m over the lifetime of this Assembly term
  • £16m for a new treatment fund to provide fast access to new and innovative treatments for life-threatening diseases
  • £4.5m towards raising the residential care capital limit to £50,000

We have published a one-year revenue budget, which will provide stability and assurances for our valued public services in the immediate future while we work collectively to plan for the future.

Similarly, our four-year capital plans will give security and confidence to our key stakeholders, local construction sector and business.

And this is also an ambitious budget. It makes progress in delivering our ambitions for Wales and against the key commitments in our programme for government. It also reflects the budget agreement we have reached with Plaid Cymru.

– Finance Secretary Mark Drakeford

Announcing the spending plans, Mr Drakeford criticised public spending squeezes and urged the UK Government to 'abandon the self-defeating polices of austerity.'

In response, the UK Government has pointed out that as a result of the last UK budget, funding for the Welsh Government will be £370m higher than originally expected.

A spokesperson also highlighted a UK Government promise to guarantee that funding for Wales won't drop below a level set at higher than similar spending in England.

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