A Welsh budget to tackle the climate emergency and strengthen public services

The Welsh Government released its three-year budget this week to strengthen public services, deal with climate and natural emergencies and improve educational opportunities.

The final budget was released on St David’s Day and comes ahead of a vote in the Senedd next week.

Nearly £2 billion of targeted green investment will boost Wales’ response to climate and natural emergencies.

The Welsh NHS will receive £1.3billion in direct funding, helping it recover from the pandemic and its ability to deliver effective long-term services.

An additional £0.75 billion is invested in local communities. This funding will strengthen social protection and support schools and other vital services provided in local communities by local councils.

The quality of school buildings will be improved with £900m of capital funding, while a further £320m will continue the long-term agenda of learning and education reform.

For the first time, the budget includes a series of funding commitments to reflect the three-year cooperation agreement between the Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru.

The publication of the final budget follows the review of the draft budget, which was published in December. Ministers will respond to the wide range of recommendations made by the Senedd committees.

Rebecca Evans, Minister for Finance and Local Government, said:

“This budget will help Wales deal with climate and natural emergencies while strengthening the NHS, social care, local government, education system and a range of vital services. It is a budget for a stronger, fairer and greener Wales and I am proud to publish it.

“A three-year budget helps put public services on a longer-term footing, helping us recover and rebuild after the pandemic.

“Between the draft budget and the final budget, we have committed an additional £330m to a support package covering 2021-22 and 2022-23 to help people cope with the cost of living crisis.

“The UK government’s upcoming spring statement is an opportunity for it to provide its own meaningful support to help people pay their bills and put food on the table.”

Funding has been allocated to implement the political commitments contained in the cooperation agreement.

This includes an additional £200million over the next three years to meet the commitment to extend free school meals to all primary school pupils in Wales.

Principal Designated Member Siân Gwenllïan MS added:

“Overall, this is a budget that shows how collaboration can make a real difference in the lives of people and communities in every region of the country. There is a series of investments that aim to tackle social inequalities, tackle climate change and recover from the pandemic as we face the great challenges of the future together.

“I am delighted that at the heart of this final budget is an investment of hundreds of millions of pounds in free school meals for every primary school pupil. Ensuring that no child goes hungry is one of our top priorities, especially as more and more families grapple with the rising cost of living. It is a tangible and practical demonstration of our commitment to helping the most vulnerable in our society; our principles in action through this national budget.

A further £60million will be spent on delivering on the commitment to extend free childcare to all two-year-olds, with a particular focus on providing and strengthening the offer in Welsh.

Additional income of £48 million and a total investment of £102 million will help improve flood management and mitigation measures. The budget allocates an additional £14m of revenue to support improvements to Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol and the National Welsh Language Learning Centre. The culture and broadcasting sector will receive additional financial support of £27 million, and £11 million has been allocated to the second phase of Arfor.