Uncomfortable questions for Economy Minister over unallocated £1bn
Russell George MS has quizzed the Minister for Economy over a report by Cardiff University that the Labour-led Welsh Government has more than £1 billion unallocated from its fund to fight Covid-19.
Mr George, the Shadow Minister for Economy, Transport, and Infrastructure asked his questions during today’s Plenary session.
He said that Cardiff University had looked at the £4.4 billion from the UK Government and then the amount reallocated from existing Welsh Government budgets, and determined that an estimated £1.2 billion has yet to be earmarked.
Mr George asked:
“Can you confirm if this is the case, and if it is, why is the Welsh Government not committing this money now, to support businesses now, rather that holding it back?”
The Welsh Labour Minister, however, would neither confirm nor deny Cardiff University’s assessment.
Speaking later, Mr George said:
“Since the start of the pandemic but even more so now we’re in the Welsh Government’s Wales-wide lockdown, we have been bombarded by businesspeople who are absolutely at the end of their tether. They are desperate for support to keep their businesses alive but crucially to keep local people in their jobs. As we’ve always said, this pandemic is damaging lives and livelihoods.
“The UK Government has given certainty to the Welsh Government by guaranteeing at least £1.1bn for the remainder of this year in extra funding. This brings the total UK Government support to Wales to more than £4 billion. If this is not enough, the Welsh Government must urgently reallocate more from their budgets to ensure that businesses get the support they need. The Welsh Government need to do it now to support businesses through the winter, and not when it’s too late.”
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