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Welsh Government: “Disappointing budget for Wales”

Published in News at 15:26, Wednesday March 20th, 2013.

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The Welsh Government has said George Osborne’s UK Government budget was disappointing for Wales.

In response to the Chancellor’s budget speech on Wednesday, it has claimed it will have to find savings of £32 million in 2013/14 and £81 million in 2014/15.

Finance Minister Jane Hutt said: “This is a disappointing Budget for Wales. We have repeatedly called on the UK Government to boost infrastructure investment to stimulate the economy. In response they have reduced our revenue budget – these revenue cuts are on top of those in last year’s Autumn Statement. In total we will now have to find savings of £32 m in 2013/14 and £81 m in 2014/15.

“The price for additional capital investment is high and will be paid for by cuts to our revenue for the next two years. This is a real blow and will place our crucial public services under further pressure.

“The UK Government has given us back some capital allocations, which we welcome. However there are many strings attached – the capital can only be used for loans or equity investment and a proportion will have to be repaid. Although we are committed to boosting the housing sector in Wales, this falls far short of what we called for and urgently require.

“At a time when we are trying to support the Welsh economy and boost growth, this level of cuts is unacceptable.

“Despite the recent loss of triple A status, borrowing costs remain very low and we would like to see the UK Government take advantage of this to support capital projects. Analysis by the IM F concludes that the right time to reduce debt is when the economy has recovered. The time now is right to boost the economy – especially with the disappointing jobs figures today.”

The Welsh Conservatives though have welcomed the budget.

Leader Andrew RT Davies AM said it was a budget that will support communities across Wales as it was targeted at growth.

He said: “From fuel duty to income tax, from childcare to capital spending; this is extremely welcome news that provides a stark contrast to Welsh Labour’s tired policies and casino economics.

“The UK Government’s mortgage announcement will help those working hard to get on the property ladder, while its national insurance plans are a welcome difference to Labour’s flawed plans to tax jobs.

“As a result of these spending decisions the Welsh Government will benefit from an additional 161 million pounds of capital spending power – bringing the total to 858 million over the spending review period.

“Detailed discussions are now required on how to put this new money to best use.”

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