(Title Image: deeside.com)
Here’s a summary of this afternoon’s Finance Questions.
Mark holds M4 Newport cards close to his chest
Rhun ap Iorwerth AM (Plaid, Ynys Môn) asked what value the Finance Secretary placed on the view of the Future Generations Commissioner when it came to major infrastructure investments? Three guesses as to what that refers to.
“The Commissioner has made some very strong comments over some time now about your proposals for the M4 black route. She mentioned last year that the M4 scheme could put in place a dangerous precedent for the future. More recently, she has made her view expressly clear that she doesn’t believe this proposal would meet the needs of future generations.”
– Rhun ap Iorwerth AM
Finance Secretary, Mark Drakeford (Lab, Cardiff West), said the Welsh Government works constructively with the Commissioner and her work was appreciated. He repeated what was said earlier in the week that there was an ongoing legal process and he wouldn’t be drawn on any aspect of that process as Finance Secretary.
He’ll reserve any comments until he sees the inspector’s report and the accompanying advice.
North Wales Growth Deal
Filling in for Nick Ramsay, who’s on paternity leave IIRC, Darren Millar AM (Con, Clwyd West) asked about funding, or lack of, the Welsh Government has made available for the North Wales Growth Deal.
“….this bid was put together and submitted by the north Wales economic ambition board on 23 October. The UK Government managed to consider it and put its hand in its pocket and place £120 million on the table within a matter of just a few weeks. Why have you spent so long dithering about this?”
– Darren Millar AM
The Finance Secretary said he was a few days away from making a decision on a Welsh Government commitment (presumably his successor would too), but has been unable to do so yet as, unlike the Cardiff and Swansea deals, the UK Government made an announcement without any agreement with Cathays Park.
“The UK Government, having decided to put its hand in its pocket, but not all that far, I must say, given that it was £170 million that was asked for by north Wales authorities, not the £120 million they ended up with.”
– Finance Secretary, Mark Drakeford
Many of us living in Wales will have recently received a letter explaining the Welsh rate of income tax and Lynne Neagle AM (Lab, Torfaen) asked how that public information campaign was going. A number of constituents have contacted her worried that their income tax might rise (due to how the information was presented on the leaflet, presumably).
The Finance Secretary confirmed there were no plans to raise income tax this year and also said the Welsh Government had received just 5 calls or e-mails on the issue and HMRC just 94 calls out of 2 million letters sent. HMRC are working to ensure that only Welsh taxpayers receive the letters and they’ve estimated around 900 people whose status (with regard to where they were living relative to the border) still needed to be sorted out.