Jeremy praises Welsh Budget for ‘right choices despite reduced resources’

On Tuesday 10th January 2017, the National Assembly debated the Welsh Government’s Final Budget. Jeremy spoke in the debate and you can read his contribution below:

Budgets are about choices. Although none of us would feel, in this Chamber, that we have the resources available to the Welsh Government that we would need to do what we want to do, this budget, I believe, shows—as Mike Hedges indicated—the shortcomings of austerity and the possibility, even within reduced resources, of making the right choices. The choice that the Welsh Government has made in this budget is to stand on the side of people who are doing their bit but are finding it hard.

So, if, like a young parent in my constituency, you were able to send your children to Food and Fun in Melin Junior School this summer, giving you a little bit more time to go to work, taking some pressure off your care budget, giving them two meals a day and playing and reading with their fellow pupils, the great news is that the Government’s going to expand that project, both in our area and elsewhere.

If you’re an apprentice, you’ll be comforted in knowing that the Welsh Government is spending every penny of the apprenticeship levy on expanding its apprenticeship programme. If you’re looking to buy a home and finding that hard, then £53 million to bring forward the commitment to affordable homes is going to be good news. If you’re going into care, doubling the capital limit and making a start on that in this budget is very significant. Knowing that the care worker who is looking after you is on the path to earning the living wage, as a result of the Welsh Government’s commitment, is going to be a good thing. So, these are choices; and the Government, in my opinion, within the limited constraints of the budget, are making the right choices.

I’d also like to say, in relation to the fiscal framework—I’d like to congratulate the finance Secretary on his achievement in negotiating that settlement. This is the last budget that will be taking place under the old—or the current—regime. It’s incredibly significant that he has managed to bake into the formula a needs base for Barnett, and incredibly significant that we will have an independent review for the formula and an independent dispute resolution mechanism. It doesn’t, in my view, go far enough, and I believe that to be his view and the view of others in this Chamber as well. Nevertheless, that is a major step forward. My personal preference would be for a statutory mechanism that enshrines these principles in law. We take our powers on the basis of statute, and we get our funding on the basis of a handshake, and this mechanism starts us on the journey of moving away from that. In that, it is very significant, and he is to be congratulated on that achievement.

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