Wales politics

Autumn Statement 2016: The impact on Wales

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Image caption What does Philip Hammond's Autumn Statement hold for Wales?

Fans of big Welsh rabbits being pulled out of a Westminster hat on Wednesday might have been disappointed by the Autumn Statement.

It was not that kind of announcement.

There will be more funding for infrastructure in Wales, and a recommitment to proposed regional funding deals for Swansea and north Wales.

But the latter had little detail.


What was announced for Wales?

Chancellor Philip Hammond announced that the Welsh Government would get £400m to spend on infrastructure.

That is cash coming to the Welsh Government as a result of corresponding cash increases in England over five years - from 2016 to 2021.

This is how funding for the devolved administrations works in the UK - when cash increases for England-only departments the amount of money that goes to Cardiff coffers also rises.

What could the Welsh Government spend it on? It is up to them - there are a number of projects pending such as the Metro and the M4 Relief Road that could get money, but there areas of spending like flood prevention and high street regeneration which ministers could boost with the extra cash.

To put £400m over five years into perspective though, the Gwent Specialist Critical Care Centre hospital project is thought to cost £350m alone.

The Welsh Government said there was £35.8m of extra day-to-day funding for services between 2016-17 and 2019-20. Finance Secretary Mark Drakeford called this negligible though - the overall Welsh Government budget is £15bn.

Image copyright Wales Air Ambulance
Image caption £1m was announced in extra funding for Wales Air Ambulance

The chancellor announced what he described as a recommitment to proposals for regional finance deals for North Wales and Swansea Bay.

In previous years the UK government has been keen on so-called city deals which see the Treasury co-fund projects with local and, occasionally, devolved government.

In Swansea a £500m city deal has been mooted, with proposals for a fibre-optic transatlantic cable and faster broadband speeds.

But none of the nitty gritty saw its way into Mr Hammond's Autumn Statement documents, which said the government had been making "good progress in discussions with local partners and the Welsh Government".

It added that it will consider "options for a growth deal in north Wales and looks forward to receiving proposals from local partners" - but again there was no further detail, although it did restate continued support for the implementation of the £1.2bn city deal for Cardiff and the area around it.

Meanwhile two projects in Wales are getting cash from fines on banks for the LIBOR scandal.

Wales Air Ambulance gets £1m, while the Museum of Military Medicine will be given £2m to contribute towards relocating the museum to Cardiff.


What about stuff that is not devolved - and what does not apply to Wales?

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Most tax matters, employment legislation and benefits remain in the hands of London ministers - so the announcements on the National Living Wage, tax and Universal Credit could matter to you.

The National Living Wage - previously known as the minimum wage - is to rise from £7.20 an hour to £7.50 from April next year.

The Universal Credit taper rate is to be cut from 65% to 63% from April at a cost of £700m - this means benefits will be withdrawn at a rate of 63p for every pound of net earnings, with the aim to benefit people moving into work.

There's a full breakdown of the UK announcements here.

But the announcement that lettings agency fees will be scrapped will only apply to England.

The matter is devolved and in Wales there are no current plans to do the same, although in October the Welsh Government said it was monitoring the situation in Scotland where a ban is already in place.


What about a tidal lagoon?

Image caption Not all of Jo Stevens's list of demands was met

Shadow Welsh Secretary Jo Stevens had reeled off a list of projects she wanted to hear about in the statement, including the tidal lagoon energy project in Swansea Bay.

There was zero mention of that in Mr Hammond's speech.

However UK ministers have previously said they would decide to proceed after considering an independent review of such schemes due to report by the end of the year.

It was also well trailed that no announcement would be made.

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