Wales politics

Flood scheme budget cuts in Wales to be reduced

Firefighters pull a boat as they wade down a flooded street in St Asaph Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Firefighters wade down a flooded street in St Asaph, Denbighshire, in 2012

Plans to cut capital spending on flood prevention schemes are to be partially reversed by the Welsh Government.

It comes as ministers publish their final budget for 2017-18.

There is an extra £33m for flooding schemes, £53m for housing and £50m for regeneration projects over the next four years.

An extra £83m for transport projects over the next four years includes £50m to speed up building of the A483 Llandeilo bypass in Carmarthenshire.

The extra money is a result of the UK government's Autumn Statement, which was made after Welsh ministers published their draft budget.

The new spending plans are relatively small amounts when taken as a proportion of the Welsh Government's total annual capital budget of about £1.4bn for 2017-18.

Ministers were criticised when the draft budget, published in October, included plans to cut capital spending for "flood-risk management and water" over four years from £30.4m in 2016-17 to £18m in 2020-21.

The announcement on Tuesday means those cuts will now be smaller.

A separate £150m fund for councils to borrow money for "flood and coastal-risk management" will be available from 2018-22.

Image caption Mark Drakeford presented his draft budget to the Senedd in October

On Saturday, it was confirmed the final budget will include £10m to help businesses cope with changes to rates.

The overall budget - including day-to-day spending on public services - is rising by 3.7% to £15.05bn, according to published figures.

It included an extra £240m for the NHS and £10m for a pilot scheme to provide 30 hours of free childcare for three and four year olds.

But there were cuts to some areas of local government and community projects, plus the end of the £20m Schools Challenge Cymru scheme.

Plaid Cymru has agreed to support the budget as part of a deal which sees about £120m being spent on its priorities.

Finance spokesman Adam Price said the deal showed a "maturing" of politics in Wales, and he welcomed the extra cash for transport and business rate relief.

"This historic agreement will see millions of pounds invested in health, education and infrastructure in order to deliver tangible benefits to the lives of people in Wales," he said.

"This is a budget whose scope and substance have been enhanced by Plaid Cymru's participation in the negotiation process, forcing the Welsh Government to raise its sights."

But a Welsh Conservative spokesman claimed the announcement was "little more than a rubber-stamping of yet another 12 months of Labour-led failure".

"There is no reason to believe that this budget will provide the necessary levels of prosperity, educational attainment and public service delivery where so many others before it have failed," he added.

Assembly members will debate and vote on the final budget in the new year.

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