1. ITV Report

Finance Secretary to decide which projects will take funding priority

Finance Secretary Mark Drakeford says he'll decide soon which infrastructure projects will take priority for funding.

The Finance Secretary said the statement didn't go as far as he would've hoped. Credit: Senedd TV

Yesterday's Autumn Statement included more than £400m of additional capital funding for Wales between 2016-17 and 2020-21 and £35.8m of revenue funding between 2016-17 and 2019-20 – this includes £20m funding previously announced as a result of the apprenticeship levy.

As a government, we have been clear about the importance of investing in Wales’ infrastructure – in these uncertain times this is more important than ever. This is why we called on the UK Government to boost investment to support economic growth. Although (the) announcement doesn’t go as far as we had hoped, this extra investment goes some way to restoring the cuts we have seen to our capital budget over recent years. We will consider how we use this additional funding to support our investment priorities...and will make an announcement in the near future.

– Mark Drakeford AM, Finance Secretary

Elsewhere the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) said Chancellor Philip Hammond could've done more to ease pressures facing local services.

They claim vital services could be under threat as councils "continue to bear the brunt of austerity."

Public expenditure reductions will continue to be a feature of national finances and this is not good news for local public services. This statement presents a tough picture for public services following on from the events following the Brexit vote in June. We will have to see the detail of how this pans out for WG budgets for 2017-18 and beyond. It is clear that valued local services that are relied on by the most vulnerable will continue to face a precarious future. We will need to work closely with the Welsh Government regarding their planning assumptions beyond next year and ensuring that preventative spend is prioritised.

– Cllr Anthony Hunt, Deputy Spokesperson for Finance and Resources
The WLGA said the statement presents a tough picture for public services.

The President of the South and Mid Wales Chambers of Commerce, Liz Maher, said she "welcomed" the Chancellor's statement regarding his attempts to support businesses through innovation and infrastructure.

However, she said more action was needed on high up-front taxes and the costs of doing business in the UK.

The rise of £400m available to the Welsh Government and the confirmation of the Swansea City Deal are particularly important for Welsh businesses. The Swansea and Cardiff city deals have the potential to transform the economy of south Wales, but it is very important that the business community now sees real action and, importantly, real engagement of business in moving these initiatives forward. It is now over to the Welsh Government and local authorities in Wales to use that money to support businesses here. We need to see improved transport links into west Wales, investment in developing workforce skills and increased support for businesses looking to grow, particularly through export.

– Liz Maher, President, South and Mid Wales Chambers of Commerce

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