Calls for "meaningful action" in UK Autumn Statement

November 20, 2023 - 583 views

Finance Minister Rebecca Evans has today called on the UK Government to provide extra help to support vital public services and provide fair funding for Wales in the Autumn Statement.

Speaking as the Chancellor finalises the Autumn Statement, which will be delivered this Wednesday, the Minister also urged the UK Government to recognise the need for additional investment in coal tip safety and rail infrastructure in Wales.

She said: "We are experiencing extraordinary pressures on our budget as a result of prolonged high inflation, together with the toxic combination of more than a decade of austerity and the ongoing impact of Brexit.

"All public services are grappling with incredibly difficult decisions and the NHS and local authorities are reporting extreme challenges across their budgets with significant service pressures in health, social care, education, and homelessness.

"There will be a significant impact on the immediate future of our vital public services if the UK Government once again fails to invest."

The Minister has written to the Chancellor calling for significant investment by the UK Government including for coal tip safety and rail infrastructure.

Since 2020, the Welsh Government has made available £50 million for coal tip inspection and maintenance works for this issue which pre-dates devolution but is not recognised in the funding settlement.

The Minister today urged the UK Government to provide a £20 million contribution to support the remediation of selected sites. The Welsh Government has recently published the locations of category C and D coal tips across Wales, these are the coal tips which require more frequent inspection.

She also highlighted a claimed disparity in funding in rail investment in Wales, saying: "Now that HS2 is just a London to Birmingham railway, the UK Government's flimsy arguments for classifying it as an ‘England and Wales’ project have collapsed.

"HS2 is an England-only project and Wales should be provided with its fair share of consequential funding, including the £270 million we have missed out on to date.

"We are also calling for a wider review of how rail projects are classified, and for the UK Government to re-engage with the work of the joint UK and Welsh Government Wales Rail Board to deliver a rolling programme of investment which provides the rail infrastructure Wales needs."