Budget 2021: What Rishi Sunak's announcement means for Wales

Credit: PA

Rishi Sunak has announced his plans to help the UK's post-pandemic economic recovery as he delivered his autumn Budget speech.

The chancellor laid out a range of measures, from cheaper pints to a boost for the lowest earners in receipt of Universal Credit.

An increase of the National Living Wage for adults over 22 was one set of measures announced by the chancellor on Wednesday.

It means the wage will rise by £0.50 to £9.50 from April next year. On average, people can expect to see an extra £1,074 a year before tax.

For Elisha the rise in the National Living Wage is good news for his family Credit: ITV Wales

At a bakery in Denbigh, the rise in wages is welcome news for staff but they say they have also seen the cost of living rise.

Elisha Francis is a team leader at the Henllan Bakery, which employs 73 staff.

He said: "You notice the price of everything rising.

"You notice when you go to the supermarket now there's a big difference in (the cost of) your shop from a couple of years ago.

"You see a major difference in that now but a wage increase should help out a bit.

"It will make a big difference to my family. My wife works so that will make a big difference for us overall."

Staff at the bakery already earn about the minimum wage Credit: ITV Wales

Staff at the bakery already earn £9.50, but the company have made a commitment to raise wages when the new national living wage comes into effect.

With 18 delivery vans transporting fresh produce six days a week, fuel costs are a big worry for the company. The chancellor confirmed that amid rising costs, fuel duty will be frozen for 2022-2023.

Production Director Tom Moore would prefer to see the duty lowered instead.

"Some of our vans do 300 miles now on the roads," he said.

"Filling up a van is nowhere near what it used to be - we actually say 'wow, look at how much we're spending a day.'

"The freeze is very welcome indeed. We do want it to come down but I think that's wishful thinking."

Other budget headlines for Wales

  • Cut in Air Passenger Duty for flights between UK airports, including Cardiff Airport

  • £120 million "Levelling Up Fund" for a range of projects across Wales

  • Higher spending in England will mean an extras £2.5 billion for the Welsh Government,

    according to the chancellor

The Federation of Small Businesses Wales described the measures announced today as a "mixed bag" for businesses in the country.

Plans to reform alcohol taxes and the freezing of fuel duty were welcomed, but the FSB criticised the exclusion of other measures like reduced payroll taxes.

Ben Francis, FSB Wales Policy Chair, said: “Local and independent firms struggling under the weight of covid debt and spiralling utility costs won’t have heard much on how this Budget will address their immediate concerns.”

Finance Minister Rebecca Evans Credit: Senedd TV

Wednesday's budget announcement was met with criticism from the Welsh Government, which accused the chancellor of failing to invest in Wales.

On Tuesday, Mark Drakeford called for funding to make coal tips in Wales safe but the budget contained no new investment to help solve the issue.

Finance Minister Rebecca Evans said that it "hasn't delivered for Wales."

She said: "While the Spending Review does give us some medium term financial certainty and some additional investment, it is more than offset by the inflationary and system pressures that we are facing. The budget fails to meet the scale of the challenge that families, public services and the wider economy are still facing as a result of the pandemic.

“The fact remains that there are clear gaps in funding where the UK Government should be investing in Wales and it has chosen not to. Arrangements for replacing EU Structural Funds remain unclear but what we do know is it falls well short of the £375m we were receiving – these are funds that support skills, businesses and decarbonisation. HS2 is expected to have a negative impact of £150m per year on the Welsh economy, while the failure to back a long-term solution for Wales’ coal tips could create an additional financial pressure of at least £60m per year.

“The limited measures announced by the Chancellor to help households grappling with the increase in the cost of living don’t go nearly far enough. Further steps should be taken to target support to lower income families struggling as a result of the cut to Universal Credit, the future increase in National Insurance contributions, and spiralling energy prices."

Welsh Secretary Simon Hart as a "fantastic budget for Wales" Credit: PA

In stark contrast to the Welsh Government's criticism of Rishi Sunak's budget, Welsh Secretary Simon Hart described it as a "fantastic budget for wales."

He praised the announcement of the Levelling Up Fund, which would see £120m go towards projects in Wales.

He said: “The devolved administration in Wales will receive its largest-ever settlement so it can deliver its vital services like health, education and flood protection, while Wales will benefit fully from many of our UK-wide measures including freezes to fuel and alcohol duty, the increase in the minimum wage for thousands of workers and investment in parks and sports facilities.

“Levelling up communities across the UK is top of our agenda. Investing more than £120m in 10 projects including the regeneration of Aberystwyth seafront and improving transport links in Rhondda shows how we will achieve this ambition across Wales.

“Alongside the funding of a Welsh Veterans’ Commissioner, these measures and others in the Spending Review add up to an excellent package for Wales and its economy.”