Fay Jones MP is urging the Welsh Government to match the decisions announced by the Chancellor Jeremy Hunt in today’s Budget.
Amid difficult global conditions, today’s Budget highlighted that the country’s economic outlook is more positive than many previously thought, with the threat of recession now avoided. With greater growth predicted, the Welsh Government received an additional £180million from the Treasury today. But some of the announcements apply only to people living in England.
Among the measures announced was the extension of the Energy Price Guarantee, fixing the cost of electricity and gas bills for households across the UK. As a result, the price households pay for the energy they use will continue to be capped, as they have been since October, so that a typical household will pay £2,500.
But the big announcement in today’s Budget – free childcare for children aged 9 months – will not apply to parents in Brecon and Radnorshire unless the Welsh Government chooses to apply the measure. With the increased funding announced by the Chancellor, the decision now rests with the Welsh Government.
Mr Hunt also announced a ringfenced package of support for swimming pools who have been facing tougher than normal electricity and gas bills – putting many in dire economic straits. Ms Jones welcomed the announcement and urged the Welsh Government to show the same support:
Speaking after the Budget, Ms Jones said:
“These are very welcome steps and I congratulate the Prime Minister and the Chancellor for stewarding the economy through extremely difficult global conditions. It is extremely positive that inflation has peaked and that economic growth is returning to the UK.
What’s needed now is for the Welsh Government to match the steps that the Chancellor has introduced. Parents in Brecon and Radnorshire deserve the equivalent to parents in England and so I would love to see the same action replicated.
On top of this, swimming pools in my constituency have been struggling for some time. In January, I visited Riverside Leisure Centre, a family-run business in Bronllys near Talgarth. They talked me through their figures and how they would really struggle to remain open without government support.
There is nothing standing in the Welsh Government’s way. They have the means to support businesses like this. It is wrong that swimming pools and leisure centres in Brecon and Radnorshire should lose out while businesses in Herefordshire receive government support.”