ABERAVON AM WELCOMES A BUDGET FOR GROWTH AND JOBS

Boosting economic growth, creating jobs, investing in schools and hospitals and protecting universal benefits are at the heart of the Welsh Government’s Draft Budget for 2013-14, Finance Minister Jane Hutt said yesterday (Tuesday 2 October 2012).

The £15.4bn Welsh Budget for Growth and Jobs will also ensure that the Welsh Government is investing in the economic, social and environmental well-being of Wales.

Aberavon AM David Rees said:
“At a time of such economic uncertainty, I welcome the focus on the economy. Creating a budget with growth and jobs at its heart, will help us deliver longer term benefits for the economy and, crucially, better infrastructure for our key public services.”

“This Budget also reaffirms our unwavering commitment to protect the most vulnerable in society and uphold the values of social justice and universal benefits.”

The Minister announced an additional £175m in capital investment over the next two years to support strategically important projects throughout Wales, creating or supporting up to 3,000 jobs and boosting the number of affordable homes by over 800.
This includes:
o £65m for improving transport – including £40m for the Brynmawr to Tredegar section of the A465 Heads of the Valley Dualling Programme and £25m for improvements to the A55 Conwy Tunnel;
o £30m for hospitals – comprising £18m to support the redevelopment of Morriston Hospital, Swansea and £12m for adult mental health facilities in Llandough Hospital, Cardiff and Glanrhyd Hospital, Bridgend;
o £25m for schools & colleges – including £15m in 2013-14 to accelerate a number of schemes under the 21st Century Schools programme;
o An additional £10m in 2014-15 for high-speed broadband to ensure universal access by 2015. This builds on the additional £10m we are allocating in 2013-14 for Next Generation Broadband Wales from the Centrally Retained Capital Fund;
o an additional £13m for capital investment in Flying Start.
o £12m to expand the Welsh Housing Partnership;
o £10m domestic energy efficiency;
o an additional £10m to support a programme of vital flood and coastal defence improvements across Wales;

In addition, the Budget proposals for 2013-14 include:
o Continued protection for the health budget – with plans for the second year of the three year funding package of £288m for the NHS that we announced in last year’s Budget up to 2014-15;
o our commitment to grow the social services budget in the Revenue Support Grant – which by 2014-15 will be £35m higher each year than in 2010-11;
o £20m revenue funding, which forms part of the additional allocation of £55m we announced in last year’s Budget, in support of our Five for a Fairer Future commitment to double the number children benefitting from Flying Start – bringing our total additional investment for Flying Start over the three years 2012-13 to 2014-15 to £74m;
o Protecting funding for schools – which means that we will have invested an extra £185m in schools since 2010-11;
o Maintaining our commitment to the Pupil Deprivation Grant – with funding worth £36.8m in 2013-14, an increase of £4.7m on 2012-13.
o Maintaining Universal Benefits – free prescriptions, free concessionary bus travel, free school milk and breakfasts and free swimming – which provide a vital shield for the people of Wales and help to mitigate the impact of the actions being taken by the UK Government, such as Welfare Reform.

Jane Hutt said:
“Our number one priority is to deliver a Budget for Growth and Jobs which will create a more prosperous Wales, by encouraging economic growth and creating and sustaining jobs.
“Despite the Welsh Budget being £2.1bn lower in real terms by 2014-15 than at its peak in 2009-10 as a result of cuts imposed by the UK Government – including a 45% cut in capital over that period – we have ensured all Welsh Government departments see an increase in funding.
“We stand by the decisions we have taken that underpin our Budget – our investments in schools and skills, in health and in social services to ensure we can deliver our Programme for Government.”

A final vote is expected in the Senedd in December