Think-tank gives dire warning for Welsh economy in 2018

3 Jan 18

Wales’ economy shows little sign of improving this year and some indicators are heading into reverse, including child poverty, a think-tank has warned.

The Bevan Foundation’s forecast for 2018 said Wales faced problems from a flatlining economy, rising poverty rates and Brexit.

Director Victoria Winckler, said: “The Welsh Government, local authorities and many businesses and charities are making very real efforts to address the challenges facing Wales, but the progress that many would like to see is minimal and in some cases, such as child poverty, we are going backwards.”

Although the foundation expected Wales’ GDP growth to exceed that of Scotland, Northern Ireland and some of England this would be insufficient to narrow the gap between Wales and the UK average, Winckler said.

Inflation was expected to wipe out any real-term earnings growth, and relative poverty could rise to 27%, and to around 40% for children.

The foundation’s report Tough Times Ahead said public spending would “continue to be a story of austerity”, with the Welsh Government’s total budget in 2019-20 £1.1bn lower than in real terms than in 2010-11, a fall of 7%.

It said the NHS would continue to be squeezed by increased demand, staff shortages and funding, while local government would face further cuts and “there will continue to be talk about reform of local government, but nothing will happen”.

The Welsh finance secretary Mark Drakeford pledging greater certainty for public services amid ongoing austerity when in October last year he released his draft budget for the coming 12 months.

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