- Posted by: Mike Hedges MS
- Category: Latest News
Protecting the NHS and schools, boosting economic growth and creating jobs, as well as tackling poverty and protecting the vulnerable are at the heart of the Welsh Labour Government’s spending priorities for 2014-15, which were published this week.
Presenting the Welsh Government’s Draft Budget for 2014-15 to the National Assembly, Finance Minister Jane Hutt said that while the Welsh budget has faced an unprecedented £1.7bn cut by the Tory-led UK Government since 2010 and difficult decisions had to be made, the Welsh Government’s spending plans were based on principles of fairness and social justice.
A £100m agreement has been reached with Plaid Cymru and the Liberal Democrats to deliver shared priorities as part of the Welsh Government’s plans to invest over £15bn each year over the next two years to achieve its ambitions for a fairer, healthier and more prosperous Wales.
In addition to delivering high quality services for the people of Wales, the Welsh Government is prioritising investment in three key areas – economic growth and creating jobs, improving educational attainment and supporting children, families and deprived communities.
To support growth and jobs, the Welsh Government’s Draft Budget will:
- Invest additional capital of £617.5m in key projects across Wales, in line with Wales Infrastructure Investment Plan priorities: investment in housing, transport, schools and health will help create and support around 11,000 jobs – including £65.5m for immediate investment – for projects such as the final phase of the Children’s Hospital for Wales and an additional £9.5m for the Health Technology and Telemedicine Fund;
- Tackle youth unemployment – by extending the three year Jobs Growth Wales programme to a fourth year – to create more than 4,000 extra job opportunities for young people between the age of 16-24 with an additional £12.5m in 2015-16, taking the total number of opportunities created from 12,000 to 16,000; and
- Extend the commitment to invest £20m to support apprenticeships in Wales into 2015-16.
To deliver high quality services for the people of Wales, the Welsh Government’s Draft Budget will:
- Increase the Health budget with a three year package of £570m for the NHS – including an additional £150m in this financial year. This will provide the Welsh NHS with the resources it needs to respond to the challenges being faced by health services across the UK and wider, to respond to the Francis review into patient safety and to support sustainable improvement. Combined with the additional capital announced for health, this brings our total investment in the NHS in the Draft Budget to over £600m;
- Create a new and innovative £50m Intermediate Care Fund to drive integration of health, social services and housing, to help people stay in their own homes and relieve pressures on other services.
To break the link between poverty and educational achievement and improve educational attainment the Welsh Government’s Draft Budget will:
- Maintain the commitment to increase spending on schools over the next two years;
- Provide targeted support to reduce inequalities in attainment by extending the Pupil Deprivation Grant to 2015-16 and provide £35m extra investment in 2014-15 to increase the targeted support from £450 per pupil to £918, in line with the Budget Agreement.
To support children, families and deprived communities, the Welsh Government’s Draft Budget will:
- Double the number of children benefiting from free childcare and parenting support through Flying Start by 2016 – supported by an additional £11m in the Draft Budget through a combination of revenue and capital funding;
- Increase funding for Universal Benefits – free prescriptions, free school breakfasts and milk, free swimming and concessionary fares to help mitigate the impact of the rising cost of living and other financial pressures now widely experienced by people across Wales;
- Invest £33.6m over the next two years to maintain the commitment to put and keep 500 Community Support Officers on the beat.