Chancellor must use powers to help people through cost-of-living crisis – Finance Minister
Rhaid i’r Canghellor ddefnyddio’i bwerau i helpu pobl i oroesi’r argyfwng costau byw – y Gweinidog Cyllid
Ahead of the Chancellor’s Spring Budget [Wednesday 15 March], Wales’ Finance Minister has said the UK Government must maintain the £2,500 Energy Price Guarantee and take targeted, decisive action to ease the worsening financial challenges many people and businesses are experiencing as the cost-of-living crisis continues.
Rebecca Evans said:
“The UK Government’s Spring Budget is being delivered in the face of the continuing cost-of living crisis, with energy and food prices remaining high.
“The Chancellor has the powers to make better use of his welfare and tax levers, as well as room in the public purse, to ease the challenges being experienced by households and businesses. This must be used to immediately support those most vulnerable - including practical actions to support people with energy costs, housing needs and welfare benefits. Maintaining the £2,500 Energy Price Guarantee beyond April would be an integral part of this.
“It is imperative the Chancellor acts on NHS and public sector funding and restores pay for public sector workers to real terms. The NHS turns 75 this year and it is a real opportunity to invest and reform.
“Our own budget is worth up to £1bn less in real terms in 2023 to 2024, so we need to see the UK Government properly invest in public services in recognition of the erosive impact of inflation across the country.
“I have written to the Chancellor and met with the Chief Secretary to the Treasury to stress the need for real investment in Wales, our people, and its public services - this Spring Budget is the time for meaningful action.”
Notes to editors
The Welsh Government has made a range of practical recommendations to the UK Government to help people with the cost-of-living crisis. These include abolishing standing charges on pre-payment meters, increasing Local Housing Allowance Rates, increasing funding for Discretionary Housing Payments, and increasing funding for credit unions.
It has also called for improvements to welfare benefits, with the abolition of the Benefit Cap and Two Child Limit, the introduction of an additional one-off payment for people on all means tested benefits, and changes to the Universal Credit Deduction Policy.
The Welsh Government is also calling for the UK Government to review its Windfall Tax and close any loopholes, given the continued ability of energy production companies to retain so much of their record profits. It should use these resources to improve the United Kingdom’s energy security in the long-term, with investment in green energy and support for the steel industry to decarbonise and make headway out of the UK’s energy crisis.
The Welsh Government has consistently called for the devolution of rail infrastructure, alongside a fair funding settlement. Last week’s news that delays to the only section of the HS2 project which would have increased connectivity with Wales re-affirms that this is an England-only project and does not benefit Wales. The UK Government must commit to review the categorisation of this £100bn investment and provide the Welsh Government with its £5bn share of consequential funding.