Covid: Big drop in coronavirus support in 2021, experts warn

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The future Welsh budget looks "austere" says Guto Ifan

Funding to help services and businesses in Wales cope with Covid-19 will drop sharply next year, experts have warned.

Parts of the Welsh Government's budget could face "a return to austerity" in the next few years, they add.

A Cardiff University report says the "breathtaking" sums spent on combatting the pandemic will shrink significantly.

Welsh ministers got £5.6bn extra this year due to decisions made in response to the virus in Westminster, but that will fall to around £766m in 2021/22.

A Welsh budget is due to on 21 December.

Ministers in Cardiff face "unprecedented uncertainty" as they prepare their spending plans, according to the university's Wales Governance Centre (WGC).

Even without the extra funding to fight the pandemic, the budget that pays for the day-to-day costs of public services is predicted to rise.

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Most of the Welsh Government's cash for public services comes from the UK Treasury

But if the Welsh Government matches the promises made to the NHS in England, then funding for other services in five years' time will still be 8% lower than they were when austerity started under David Cameron in 2010.

The findings are based on an analysis of the UK spending review published by Chancellor Rishi Sunak last month.

Guto Ifan, one of the authors, said: "After the huge Covid-19 funding increases we've seen for the Welsh budget this year, plans for future years are pretty austere.

"Covid-19 funding is set to drop off sharply next year, even while knock-on pressures from the pandemic will still be with us."