Welsh draft budget aims to protect public services from austerity

4 Oct 18

The Welsh Government has published its draft budget for 2019-20 including extra funds for health, social care and local government.

It is the first draft Budget that includes revenues from Welsh rates of income tax, which is partially devolved to the nation from April next year.

Finance secretary Mark Drakeford said the Welsh Government wanted to protect public services in Wales from the worst impacts of austerity.

“This has been my most difficult budget to date,” he said on 2 October.

“With less money, more demand and inflation growing we have worked hard to squeeze every penny we can for those services that matter the most to people.”

The draft plans for revenue include an additional £500m for health and social care, including £287m for services, pay and performance. Schools will receive an extra £15m and there will be a £12.5m package of measures focused on child poverty.

Councils in Wales had been facing a cut of £43m in 2019-20 but the Welsh Government said it had been able to restore funding to a number of grants and make some other decision that help local government all of which add up to £84m.

Drakeford said he would also consult on exempting care leavers from the requirement to pay council tax.

A separate consultation will consider whether private hospitals and schools should have to pay non-domestic rates as NHS hospitals and state schools do.

Capital investment was increased by £266m, including £60m for a three-year local authority road improvement scheme, £35m for the social housing grant and £15m over two years for waste recycling programmes.

No changes are proposed to the rates and bands for land transaction tax, although landfill disposal tax rates will rise in line with inflation.

More detailed departmental spending plans will be published on 23 October in line with the new budget process introduced by the Welsh Assembly last year.

Read PF’s interview with Mark Drakeford here

  • Vivienne Russell

    Vivienne Russell is managing editor of Public Finance magazine and publicfinance.co.uk

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