Three things you need to know about the Welsh Government’s £22bn Budget for 2023-24
THE NHS in Wales – which has become a lightning rod for criticsm inside and outside the country – will see a 4% rise in its share of the Welsh Government’s budget for ther coming year.
The prosposed budget – set at £22 billion for 2023-24 – was discussed at the Sennedd yesterday and includes plans for a slight real-terms increase in the money that goes to health.
The WG budget for the coming year is £22.97bn. Last year’s figure was £21.64bn, so that’s a rise of £1.32bn (6%). However, rising inflation rates have reduced the value of the £22bn by up to £1bn, so the sum for this year represents a slight rise in real terms.
Rebecca Evans, Finance and Local Government Minister, says decisions on how to spend the £22bn budget have been made “without raising income tax, meaning people already struggling to make ends meet will not face an additional tax burden.”
The vast majority of the budget will be spent on Health and Social Services, but where will the rest of the money go?
Here’s the key things you need to know from the 23/24 Budget.
Where will the money be spent?
The Welsh Government will spend most of its budget on the department of Health and Social Services reaching £10.7bn.
Of that sum, core NHS services will receieve £9.8bn with the remiander split between a variety of needs, such as mental health support policies and children’s services.
That sum of £9.8bn for the NHS in Wales is a 4% rise on last year, but the idea of increasing spending to solve problems is a hotly-debated one.
Opposition parties in Wales and Westminster argue that sufficient funding is in place for a functioning service but that the decisions and performance of the WG has been to blame for high-profile issues.
In the last week, Plaid Cymru has called for the First Minister Mark Drakeford to sack Wales’ Health Minister, Eluned Morgan, in the face of a crisis at North Wales Health Board, Betsi Cadwaladr (NWHBBC).
NWHBBC has been placed in special measures by the Welsh Government after a report described it as “dysfunctional” and illustrated “fractured relationships” between its top executives.
The NHS in Wales – which is a devolved issue – has also been used as a tool for the Westminter Conservative Government to criticise the Labour-led Welsh Government’s competency.
In a debate about the Welsh NHS at Westminster on St David’s Day, David TC Davies, the Welsh Secretary (Conservative), said: “Figures from the Office for National Statistics this week suggest that around 1 in 5 people in Wales is now on a waiting list as opposed to just 1 in 18 people in England.
“Fifty thousand people have been waiting more than two years for healthcare in Wales.”
Marco Longhi, Conservative MP for Dudley North, addeed: “Despite the Welsh Government receiving £1.20 for every £1 spent on public services in England, they spend only £1.05 of that money.”
In response to the proposed increase to NHS funding in Wales, Tom Giffard MS, of the Welsh Conservatives said the increase in funding was welcome: “It’s the mistakes of the Welsh Labour government in the past that we are now having to spend more to recover.
“It’s clear that we need more capital investment in things like waiting lists here – that’s where we need to see the investment.”
However, Llyr Gruffydd MS, Plaid Cymru’s spokesperson for finance, described futher investment as a “risk” and said money alone may not address the problems and called for “a more multi layered discussion.”
He said: “You could throw more and more money, as the government has been doing for a number of years, but really there are more structural issues that need to be addressed – ones that don’t necessarily cost more money.”
Climate Change and Transport (CCT)
This department covers the broadest amount of services, ranging from sustainable travel to investment for affordable housing.
CCT gets £2.89bn – a 2.4% increase since the draft budget published last month.
Part of this funding will go to Road, Rail, Air and Sea – these services will get £515million but compared to last year this sector also faces the biggest cuts.
In real-terms, these services will see a 30% less funding.
Transport for Wales, in particular, faces losing £218million compared to last year’s budget.
Llyr Gruffydd MS, criticised the decision to cut funding for public transport.
“Money is being pulled out of roads, justifiably so, but of course we haven’t seen the corresponding investment in public transport which we would like to see,” he said.
“This is an argument that we haven’t won with the government.”
Gruffydd says TfW has been “given additional responsibilities without the corresponding resources to deliver them effectively.”
Transport for Wales is now responsible for:
Social Justice gets £154million of the total budget – the smallest amount of all departments.
It will be spent on various needs including community facilities, gypsy and traveler sites, and services to support women who experience domestic abuse and sexual violence.
Since the draft budget this department stands to lose £5.81million.
The Finance and Local Government minister, Rebecca Evans, says she is confident the budget will recieve support in the Senedd.