In the Toughest Conditions for 60 Years We Still Aim to Improve the Quality of Life; AMs Last Night Voted through the Welsh Budget for 2012-13, amid the Backdrop of Deepening Global Economic Gloom. Finance Minister Jane Hutt Here Gives Her View of What the Budget Means for Wales and Outlines the Challenges Ahead
OUR Budget for 2012-13 was approved yesterday in the National Assembly for Wales and showed our approach to tackling the challenges we are all facing.
The Budget that has been agreed is a Budget for Wales. It is a Budget for growth and jobs, which provides investment in the public services on which we all depend. It contains a series of measures which will support people, communities and the economy the length and breadth of Wales.
The Budget has been agreed against the backdrop of challenging economic and financial times - the Institute of Fiscal Studies has concluded that there has been no period like this in the last 60 years. We have all experienced difficult times at first hand and the Office for Budget Responsibility's report published last week pointed to further challenges to come. According to that report, unemployment levels are expected to rise over and above the 9% we now face in Wales. Economic growth will be less than 1% this year and next - we are perilously close to a recession.
Through the good and the bad times our ambitions for Wales remain unchanged - we want to see economic growth, we want to improve the quality of life and wellbeing of everyone and we want to protect the vulnerable. These are the ambitions that informed our Budget for jobs and growth.
I have spoken previously about how we will continue to invest in public services - in health, local government, skills and education. These are services that are vital to navigating our way through the current challenges and laying the foundations for future growth.
We are also maintaining support for businesses, through direct support and through investing in capital infrastructure. Capital investment is vital in this serious economic downturn. It is vital to the economy - both in the short term, for the stimulus it provides, and in providing the long term conditions for growth. It is also essential to the delivery of modern, high quality public services that people in Wales deserve and expect.
Last month I outlined how almost pounds 90m capital funding would be spent on projects over the next two years. We have allocated: * pounds 32m to education projects across Wales; * pounds 16.6m to health and early-years projects; * pounds 11.7m to transport; * pounds 10m to support the roll out of residential and business access to Next Generation Broadband; * pounds 15m to increase the supply, choice and quality of our housing; and * pounds 2m to support projects to reduce flood and coastal erosion risk. And on Monday, the Minister for Education & Skills announced a further major pounds 1.4bn investment programme for our schools. Putting more money into infrastructure investment is essential. …