Today the Chancellor announced the first Budget of a new government, the first of a new decade, and the first since the UK’s departure from the European Union. While it takes place against a backdrop of the global outbreak of COVID-19, the fundamentals of the UK economy are strong, and the government is well prepared to protect people’s health and support their economic security throughout this period of temporary economic disruption.
As is often the case with these set-piece events, there can be confusion around whether particular announcements apply to Wales. And while some of the most headline-grabbing fiscal decrees are in areas for which the Welsh Government has responsibility (e.g. business rates) the UK Government is keeping its promises to level up the nations and regions of the UK, while supporting Welsh public services, individuals and businesses whose finances have been affected by COVID-19 and recent flooding.
This Budget will see Welsh Government funding increase by £800m.
In addition to this, there were numerous announcements that will help deliver prosperity for Wales:
Responding to COVID-19
- Extending Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) for those advised to self-isolate, and those caring for others who self-isolate, and support through the welfare system for those who cannot claim SSP, as well as a hardship fund.
- Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme
- Dedicated helpline for those who need a deferral period on their tax liabilities
- Removal of Universal Credit Minimum Income Floor
Safety and security
- First 6,000 of 20,000 new police officers to be recruited by March 2021
- Further investment in the police, security services and justice system
- Increasing support for victims of crime
- Trial new system of domestic abuse courts
- Investment in talking youth crime
- Increasing the number of offenders who are required to wear an electronic tag
- £510 million for 95% 4G mobile coverage by 2025
- £5 billion to support the rollout of gigabit-capable broadband
- £4 million for full-fibre broadband in Pembrokeshire
Assisting the vulnerable
- Reduce the frequency of health assessments required for people receiving Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
- Increase in the repayment period for Universal Credit advances to 24 months
- Removing the 3-year sanction from Universal Credit and Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Carbon Capture and Storage Infrastructure Fund
- £500 million to support the rollout of a fast-charging network for electric vehicles
- Further climate policy measures will follow in the coming months
Helping hard-working people and businesses
- Saving employees £104 in National Insurance contributions
- Reduce employer National Insurance contributions
- Scrap VAT on sanitary products – ‘Tampon Tax’
- Freeze fuel duty
- Freeze duty rates on beer, spirits, wine and cider,