On 9th January, the Senedd debated the draft 2024-25 spending plans announced by the Welsh Government which plot a series of cuts to vital services such as social care and business rates relief. Vale of Clwyd MS and Shadow Minister for Social Services, Gareth Davies, expressed his concern at the cuts laid out in the budget which leave social services with a funding gap of £646m. Mr Davies communicated his view that these cuts will put the care, safety, and dignity of the most vulnerable people across Wales in jeopardy.
The budget also includes proposed cuts to business rates relief which will be lowered to 40 percent, compared to 75 percent offered by the UK government, putting Welsh SMEs at a disadvantage. Mr Davies argued that the cuts to business rates relief will stifle small businesses and hinder productivity which is already in a slump within North Wales.
Addressing the Siambr, Mr Davies said:
“Tax revenue will only continue to decrease if we do not get people back into work and remove the yoke from small and medium-sized businesses. Any area of Government spending that aids in the revival of the economy and gets more people into work should never be cut, because without this we won't have the money to fund anything else. Small and medium-sized businesses will be particularly despondent to see funding pulled out for rate relief whilst still investing millions into a universal basic income pilot scheme, equality, inclusion and human rights initiatives, and many other non-essential areas, including funding for pet projects such as blanket 20 mph restrictions and 36 more politicians in this place.”
“Any additional funding that can be allocated to social services is money that would make a huge difference to the quality of vulnerable people's lives and is money that would ensure more people are able to live with dignity. I would wager that the majority of people in Wales would prioritise the care and dignity of the most vulnerable people in society over pet projects [...] that seldom have a positive impact on people's lives but serve only to exhibit the socialist credentials of the Welsh Government.”
“The Vale of Clwyd overall has precious little to celebrate with this budget, and I can only hope that the Welsh economy continues to recover in spite of the hurdles that are continuously being placed in front of it by this Government.”