Budget 2021: Rishi Sunak pledges £740m in Wales cash

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image captionRishi Sunak said most of the budget will apply to all of the UK's four nations

The chancellor has promised extra funding for Welsh public services run from Cardiff in the UK Budget.

Rishi Sunak said there will be £740m more for the Welsh government as a result of spending in England.

Mr Sunak said the future economy "depends on remaining a United Kingdom" and that his plans will protect jobs and livelihoods.

But Welsh Finance Minister Rebecca Evans said there was no sign of "long-term help for the most vulnerable".

Plaid Cymru MP Ben Lake accused Mr Sunak of a package of "half measures and quick fixes".

Following the Budget, the Welsh Government announced hospitality, retail, leisure and tourism businesses would have their business rates waived for another 12 months.

In England the rate holiday is being extended until June.

Meanwhile, the chancellor announced that furlough was being extended and VAT and national insurance rates would not rise.

More people are set to start paying income tax, however, as income tax thresholds are frozen.

Mr Sunak told the Commons: "Our future economy depends on remaining a United Kingdom.

"Millions of families and businesses in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, have contributed to and benefited from our coronavirus response and central to that has been a Treasury that acts for the whole United Kingdom.

"That's not a political point, it's an undeniable truth. The majority of today's budget measures will apply directly to people in all four nations of the United Kingdom."

What is Wales getting from the Budget?

Welsh ministers will have less to spend than at the height of the pandemic as coronavirus funds reduce in the new financial year.

But Wednesday's announcement means there will be more cash for Covid than planned at the spending review last autumn.

The Welsh Government, based in Cardiff, can spend the money it gets from the UK government on departments it controls, including the NHS and schools.

Treasury documents say the budget provides an extra £740m in cash triggered by spending in England.

Core funding for non-Covid policies will stay at £15.9bn in 2021-22.

£5.9bn was provided to Welsh ministers for Covid in 2020-21, but this will fall to £1.5bn in 2021-22.

This is more than had been planned at the spending review, when it was £770m.

media captionThe chancellor said his Budget would “protect the jobs and livelihoods of the British people”.

Welsh business rate holiday to run longer than in England

The Welsh Government has been waiting for the Budget to decide if it would continue rate relief for hospitality, retail, leisure and tourism firms.

Ms Evans said the commitment to only continue the rate holiday in England until June did not go far enough and business in Wales would instead get "that full 12-month rate relief, and I think that will be an important boost for those businesses".

Help is available to businesses with a rateable value of less than £500,000, which means big supermarkets are excluded.

Ms Evans said they "clearly don't need Welsh government support at this time".

The Welsh Government is also matching the Chancellor's decision to extend a holiday on stamp duty - known in Wales as land transaction tax - to 30 June.

Universal Credit

Many of the Budget plans for benefits and tax are UK-wide, including the £20 uplift in Universal Credit which is to be extended for another six months.

The most recent figures show there are around 280,000 people receiving Universal Credit in Wales.

In Wales 178,000 jobs had been furloughed, according to the most recent figures.

The budget included preannounced plans worth £93m for extra funding for three Welsh city and growth deals, cash for a rail testing site and money for a hydrogen production centre.

It comes after ministers in the Welsh government announced how they would spend £1.1bn on Tuesday - although the government in Cardiff still has money spare for the coming financial year of at least £600m, including £200m promised to businesses.

media captionLabour leader Sir Keir Starmer attacked "a Budget that papered over the cracks"

Welsh Secretary Simon Hart argued Mr Sunak had shown "Wales is central" to the government's plans of "building back better and greener".

Conservative Senedd leader, Andrew RT Davies, said: "At the start of this pandemic, as Conservatives we said we would do whatever it takes to protect jobs and livelihoods - and today's budget continues that commitment to families, workers and businesses across Wales."

Local authorities in Wales will be able to apply for cash from two UK-pots of cash - the £4.8bn Levelling Up Fund, and the £220m UK Community Renewal Fund.

The UK government says the latter is to prepare for the launch of the Shared Prosperity Fund in 2022, which will replace EU aid.

The Welsh Government will not be administering either scheme.

In a series of tweets, Ms Evans said: "The Chancellor has done the right thing in extending the business support package as I urged him to do. This will certainly help businesses retain staff as we start to emerge from the pandemic.

"But there's no sign of real long-term help for the most vulnerable in our society - no additional money for social care, for example."

She added the Welsh Government was getting no "precisely nothing" in terms of extra capital investment - money that is used for building infrastructure.

Plaid Cymru's treasury spokesman Mr Lake said: "This is a Budget of half measures and quick fixes - a Budget that does not begin to measure up to the scale of the challenges we face.

"The decision to delay the cut to Universal Credit instead of securing incomes in the long-term by making it permanent will lead to 26,000 families in Wales not being able to afford essentials in six months' time."

Wales TUC General Secretary Shavanah Taj said: "The chancellor is making a dangerous bet on the economy bouncing back on its own. He is gambling with the recovery when he should have acted to create jobs."

A group representing Welsh hospitality businesses, the Welsh Independent Restaurant Collective, welcomed the decision to maintain VAT for hospitality at 5%.

Natalie Isaac of Bar 44 added: "The VAT cut can help businesses like ours rebuild our balance sheets but we need a rapid announcement from the Welsh government that business rates relief will continue, particularly in city centre venues such as ours where rates are such an enormous burden."

The continuing support for jobs through the furlough scheme is key for people in Wales, but there are questions over what happens if Wales and England emerge from lockdown at different rates.

As things stand, England hopes to be completely out of lockdown before employers will be required to start making contributions to the scheme in July.

If some sectors are still operating under restrictions in Wales at that time, will employers be willing to subsidise their workers remaining on furlough?

The budget also leaves open the question about how UK government plans to maintain the £375m a year in funding that Wales used to receive in aid for its poorest areas from the EU.

Lastly, the power struggle between the UK and Welsh governments over who controls the purse strings on spending in poorer areas will continue, as the two new funds established by the chancellor plan to use local authorities as gatekeepers.

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