Wales politics

Extra cash for apprenticeships in Welsh budget

Photograph of an apprentice Image copyright PA
Image caption The Welsh Government has pledged to deliver 100,000 "all age" apprenticeships

The Welsh Government has said it will spend an extra £6.8m on apprenticeships in Wales.

In the publication of its final version budget, ministers also backed £4.7m for further education pay and £2m for child poverty initiatives.

Plans for a £23.6m package to extend support to high street retailers through business rate relief were also confirmed.

A vote on the £18bn 2019-20 budget will be held in the Senedd in January.

There had been calls for more funding for councils after the original draft budget saw all local government facing real-terms cuts while the NHS sees spending rise by 5%.

But the extent of the cuts has since been lessened.

Welsh Government said the extra cash for apprenticeships will be spent on delivering 100,000 "all-age" apprenticeships.

The announcements follow the UK government budget which pledged an extra £550m to the Welsh Government over three years.

The Welsh Government said it intends to apply the full amount of cash included in the £550m that comes as a result of additional spending in England on business rate relief on supporting Welsh businesses.

As well as cash to extend and improve the high street scheme, £2.4m will be given to local authorities to provide discretionary rates relief.

Minister for finance Rebecca Evans said: "Apprenticeships are vital for helping people gain high-quality vocational training and providing opportunities for businesses and the economy to thrive."

An extra £1.6m will be used to extend the Pupil Deprivation Grant Access scheme that helps pay for uniforms and sports kit, while £400,000 will be added to the Food and Fun programme to provide children with a meal during the summer holidays.

'Disappointing'

Following discussions with Plaid Cymru as part of its two year budget deal with Labour, an additional £5m will fund work following feasibility studies into a national art gallery and a national football museum, bringing the total pot to the projects for £10m.

Plaid's Bethan Sayed also welcomed the extra spending of £500,000 to enhance music support for young people.

But Plaid Cymru finance spokesman Rhun ap Iorwerth said: "It is disappointing that the Welsh Government haven't taken the opportunity to look again to provide a fairer settlement for Local Government in this Budget."

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