Welsh Budget: Cash announced for NHS, climate emergency and education

The climate emergency and free school meal extensions are central to the Welsh Government's latest budget Credit: PA

A £1.3bn cash injection for the NHS, measures to help Wales become a "net zero nation" and cash for free school meals have all been announced in a Budget which aims to "create a fairer nation".

Welsh Government Finance Minister Rebecca Evans has today (20 December) announced a three year budget with a range of pledges, while stressing the "difficult financial context" the country faces.

The budget is the first since Welsh Labour and Plaid Cymru announced its co-operation agreement and it contains funding to support those commitments.

Ms Evans said: “This budget will support the Wales of today and shape the Wales of tomorrow. It will support our public services to be stronger, put Wales further down the path to being a net zero nation, and create a fairer nation with equality at its heart.

“We are still operating in a difficult financial context, with our budget nearly £3bn lower than if it had increased in line with the economy since 2010-11.

She continued: "While there are tough choices ahead, we have been able to provide funding that will allow Wales to rise to the challenges we face, grounded in the distinctively Welsh values of environmental, social and economic justice."

Education and social care

Local authorities will receive close to £0.75bn - providing funding to schools, social care and other vital services.

In 2022-23, more than £250m will be provided for social services, including £180m within the local government settlement, direct investment of £45m and £50m of additional social care capital.

The budget sets out a £320m investment in the Welsh government programme of learning and education reform. This includes an additional £30million for childcare and early years provision; £40million for Flying Start and Families First; £90million for free school meals; £64.5million for wider schools and curriculum reform; and £63.5million investment in post 16 provision.

Finance Minister Rebecca Evans Credit: Senedd TV

On top of this, £900m capital funding will improve the quality of school buildings through the 21st century schools programme.

Future generations will also benefit from an additional £61m in the Welsh Government’s Young Person’s Guarantee and employability support, apprenticeship provision, and to expand Personal Learning Accounts.

Environmental measures

Wales’ response to the climate and nature emergency will be supported with targeted, green investment of an additional £160m revenue and a total capital investment of £1.8bn.

This includes funding to support the Programme for Government commitment to a national forest as well as biodiversity, active travel, the circular economy, renewable energy, flooding, and decarbonising housing.

Business measures

Additional economic support will be available for businesses with those in retail, leisure and hospitality receiving 50% non-domestic rates relief for 2022-23. This £116m package of funding, combined with existing permanent relief schemes, will ensure that more than 85,000 properties are supported in 2022-23.

The funding includes £20m on top of the consequential funding received from the UK Government, and follows the Welsh Government providing business rate support above and beyond the offer from the UK Government in this financial year.

A further £35m has been confirmed to freeze the non-domestic rates multiplier for 2022-23, ensuring there will be no increase in the amount of rates businesses are paying.

Coal tip safety

The UK and Welsh Governments have been in an arm wrestle over funding for making coal tips safe

The Welsh Government will also provide funding to support essential maintenance works to make coal tips safe.

An additional £4.5 million will be made available to make 2,500 coal tips, now exposed to increased risks of slippage, safe. 

The Welsh Government has repeatedly called for further funding from the UK Government as coal tips predate devolution, however, there was no further funding announced in October’s UK Treasury Spending Review.

The budget contains funding to support commitments in the Co-operation Agreement signed between the Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru, and will deliver the commitments in the updated Programme for Government.


£1.6bn capital will be invested in providing good quality housing, including £1bn for social housing and £375m for building safety.

What do the opposition say about the budget?

Andrew RT Davies, Welsh Conservative Party leader, said people need a recovery-focused budget.

"Unfortunately, we did not see such a budget, which represents another opportunity missed to support jobs, reform public services and deliver value for money for taxpayers.

"Welsh Conservatives would introduce a £200 million cancellation compensation fund to support businesses in the wake of Omicron. We would freeze council tax to support household budgets, set up Covid-light regional surgical hubs to tackle the NHS waiting list backlog and we would extend the business rates holiday to help firms to recover from the pandemic.

"The Plaid/Labour coalition will have real and significant cost on hard working families in the Vale.

"The First Minister said that the Plaid Cymru manifesto was an example of 'voodoo economics'.

"Now, his government’s programme is underpinned by the same voodoo economics."

Where next for coronavirus spending?

On Friday, December 17, First Minister Mark Drakeford announced a further £60m will be available to support businesses affected by the new restrictions in Wales.

The Welsh Conservatives have called for business rate holidays to be extended, as well as calling for compensation for businesses who were losing bookings because of the Omicron variant.

Tory MS Peter Fox said: "Labour has been responsible for running Wales since the days of Tony Blair, but along with their nationalist helpers, they've consistently failed to improve our economy and public services."

On Sunday (December 19), the UK Government announced it was doubling funding for the Welsh Government to tackle Covid.

Following discussions with the Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish governments, UK chancellor Rishi Sunak confirmed an additional £270 million would be made available to Wales.

Welsh secretary of state Simon Hart, said: “The UK Government has provided unprecedented support to people, businesses and administrations right across the UK since the beginning of the pandemic. 

"This support continues with the doubling of upfront funding available for the Welsh Government to £270m, giving it the financial certainty it needs for its continued Covid-19 response.

 “It will be followed by a record funding settlement for Welsh Government of £18 billion a year for the next three years and is on top of billions in extra money which has already been provided during the pandemic to support public services in Wales."

It is understood the Welsh Government continues to call for the return of the UK-wide furlough scheme.

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