This afternoon’s Budget paves the way for recovering from the Coronavirus pandemic while also driving jobs and growth in Brecon and Radnorshire, says local MP Fay Jones.
As well as a further £730 million for Wales, the Chancellor announced that the UK Government will contribute £30 million to the Global Centre for Rail Excellence (GCRE) based in Nant Helen near Coelbren. This is a very welcome move for Brecon and Radnorshire and follows extensive lobbying from Miss Jones who has been pushing the Government to choose the Nant Helen site over its rival in England.
The centre, which is a partnership between Powys County Council and Neath Port Talbot council, was specifically referenced by the Chancellor in his Budget speech. With the injection of UK Government funding, which should be match funded by the Welsh Government, the project will become a world class train testing facility creating up to 120 skilled jobs.
The Budget largely focussed on leading the UK economy out of the Coronavirus pandemic. As well as confirming the extension of the Furlough scheme, and the widening out of the Self Employed Income Support Scheme, the Chancellor also confirmed that the UK Government would maintain the cuts in VAT at 5% for the next six months. Retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England will also benefit from a 100% business rates holiday until the end of June.
Powys residents will also benefit from the UK Government’s multi-billion pound ‘Levelling Up’ fund. The scheme will invest in local infrastructure that has a visible impact on people and their communities, such as transport schemes, regeneration projects and cultural assets. Powys specifically will receive an initial £150,000 to work up proposals for local infrastructure investment and improvement. Only 14 local authorities across Wales have received this and it is a welcome funding stream for Brecon and Radnorshire. On top of this, the Mid Wales Growth Deal – designed to identify and invest in transformational rural infrastructure projects – will receive a funding boost of an extra £1.8 million per year from 2021/22 for the remaining 10 years of the Deal.
Speaking after the Budget, Fay Jones MP said:
“There is so much in this Budget for Brecon and Radnorshire. As we hopefully exit the Coronavirus pandemic, I am extremely proud – and grateful – that we are part of a strong Union which spreads opportunity across all four nations. This Budget gives us the chance to repair and rebuild – growing the rural economy in a way we have never been able to do before.
“I am particularly pleased that the GCRE was confirmed by the Chancellor in his Budget speech. It is a transformative project in an area which often feels forgotten by the Welsh Government. I’ve been campaigning on this issue since my election and so I am delighted that it has been chosen over the rival bid in England. Now that we have guaranteed the funding, I hope that the Welsh Government will waste no more time in getting shovels in the ground.”
“Maintaining VAT at 5% for six months is hugely welcome for the hospitality and tourism businesses who have struggled so much. I’ve been working closely with many of these businesses and I’m really glad that the Welsh Government has finally shown a joined up approach with England on Business Rates. This is what people want to see – governments working together not against each other.
“The reaction I have seen to the Budget so far is extremely positive. People know that it is only the economic competence of a Conservative Government which can repair the damage wreaked by Covid and build the economy we want to see. We have the opportunity to get the same in Wales in just a few short weeks at the Senedd Elections in May.”