The £2.4billion coronavirus bill facing Wales

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Finance Minister, Rebecca Evans (Lab, Gower), has published the first supplementary budget of 2020-21 (pdf).

Supplementary budgets list in-year changes to the agreed Welsh budget and are usually measured in the tens of millions of pounds.

This time it’s different, as the supplementary budget sets out how the Welsh Government have responded to the coronavirus pandemic. This includes redirecting funds from the agreed Welsh budget, as well as accounting for Barnett Formula funds resulting from increased spending in England.

The Minister has repeated a request for Welsh Government borrowing powers (currently capped at £1billion) to be extended to meet future financial challenges.

“There are still many challenges ahead and our ability to respond is limited by the rigid financial rules imposed on us by the UK Government. Easing the rules on the way we manage our budget and the amount we can borrow will free up much-needed resources for the front lines in this crisis.

 

“I will continue to urge the UK Treasury to fix this problem and as we look ahead the Welsh Government will set out the case against any return to reckless austerity.”
– Finance Minister & Trefnydd, Rebecca Evans

In total, £2.46billion of new spending has been included in the supplementary budget.

Health & Social Services

  • In terms of frontline NHS services: £166million for field hospitals, £100million for PPE, £91million for the scheme to draft final year medical, social care and nursing students into service, £30million for the use of private hospitals and at least £10.5million for mental health services.
  • £57million towards the Welsh Government “Track & Trace” strategy.
  • A bonus payment of £500 for every social care worker will cost £40million.
  • An extra £9.8million for GP and substance abuse services, £6.3million for end-of-life care and £2.3million for prescription delivery schemes.
  • £10million will be provided to aid coronavirus patients to recover at home.

Local Government, Housing & Education

  • A £188.5million fund for local authorities made up of £40million for adult social care, £40million towards the continuation of free school meals, £10million for measures to protect the homeless and £7million for temporary mortuary facilities and fatality management.
  • A further £78million to cover local authority loss of income due to the pandemic.
  • A scheme to provide emergency childcare in schools will cost £30million.
  • £15million for local food delivery schemes and an additional £11.5million for the discretionary assistance fund for families facing hardships.

Economy, Transport & Business Support

  • £662million to provide a £10,000 grant to businesses eligible for small business rate relief or with a rateable value below £12,000.
  • A £500million economic resilience fund for affected businesses, delivered through the Development Bank.
  • £332million for 100% business rate relief for all retail, leisure and hospitality businesses with a rateable value of under £500,000.
  • £214million to provide a £25,000 grant to businesses in hospitality, retail and tourism with a rateable value of between £12,001-£51,000.
  • £40million to enable bus and train services to run and to provide free travel for NHS staff.
  • £24million to support the Third/Voluntary Sector.

Just over £256million has been redirected or cut from the agreed 2020-21 Welsh budget including amongst other things:

  • £68million from improvement and transformation programmes within the NHS (including mental health).
  • £30million from the Welsh Government’s free childcare scheme.
  • A £16.8million cut to HEFCW (university funding) – with discussions ongoing to ensure this doesn’t disproportionately affect disadvantaged students who need to work whilst studying – plus a £7million cut to teacher training programmes.
  • £12.5million from concessionary bus fares and bus support grants.
  • An £11.8million cut to apprenticeships and work-based learning which is said will disproportionately affect female students who take more “non-priority” apprenticeship schemes.
  • An £8million cut to tourism promotion schemes, a £3.2million cut to international trade and promotion schemes and £2million from support to the Welsh language.
  • A £7.6million cut to Natural Resources Wales budget and a £4million cut to natural resources grant schemes.
  • £5million from the anti-obesity strategy.
  • A £4.2million cut to school improvement grants.
  • £2.8million from transformation programmes in local government.
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