Welsh budget: Labour promises extra £240m for NHS

Media captionMark Drakeford presents a budget for “stability and ambition”

An extra £240m for the NHS has been announced in the Welsh budget.

Finance Secretary Mark Drakeford also promised £10m for a pilot scheme to provide 30 hours of free childcare for three and four year olds.

There are cuts to some areas of local government and community projects, plus the end of the £20m Schools Challenge Cymru scheme.

But total spending rose by 2.7% to £14.95bn, according to published figures.

Spending plans had been shaped by the “unprecedented challenges” posed by Brexit and the resulting loss of European funding, Mr Drakeford told the Senedd on Tuesday.

How important is the budget for the whole of Wales’ economy?

Is the extra cash for the Welsh NHS enough?

“In these uncertain times, we have published a one-year revenue budget, which will provide stability and assurances for our valued public services in the immediate future while we work collectively to plan for the future,” he said.

Media captionVaughan Roderick gives his verdict on the Welsh Government’s budget

Funding commitments in the budget include £111m for apprenticeships and traineeships, and £4.5m towards a pledge to raise the savings limit for people in residential care to £50,000.

The end of the flagship Communities First anti-poverty programme – costing £30m a year – had previously been announced.

Local government has been given a real-terms cut in its day-to-day spending, but a large increase in the amount of capital funds available for one-off projects.

Mr Drakeford warned AMs of “further cuts to come” from UK government decisions.

“We cannot hide from the challenges this presents,” he said.

But a UK government spokesman said that, under the 2016 Treasury Budget, the Welsh Government’s allocation is to increase by £370m over the next four years compared to what had been set out in the spending review.

The spokesman added that the spending review for 2015 announced capital spending in Wales would rise by £900m.

Responding for the Welsh Conservatives, finance spokesman Paul Davies said he hoped the draft budget would “deliver for Welsh communities where so many others before it have failed”.

UKIP’s Mark Reckless questioned whether ministers could protect local government funding, asking if there was a risk of “very significant cuts” following next May’s council elections.

Media captionTory leader Andrew RT Davies accused Plaid of propping up Labour for a cheap deal

With Labour just short of a majority in the Senedd, ministers have struck a deal with Plaid Cymru to ensure the budget will pass.

The agreement – covering £119m worth of spending – included a promise of £30m extra funding for higher and further education and £5m to boost the Welsh language.

Plaid Cymru finance spokesman Adam Price said his party had secured “tangible improvements to the lives of people in Wales” by finding “common ground” with Labour.

However, Welsh Tory leader Andrew RT Davies has dismissed the deal as “groundhog day again”, telling BBC Radio Wales that “the nationalists are rowing in behind Labour and propping them up for another 12 months of failure”.

Welsh budget: Labour promises extra £240m for NHS}

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