Plaid Cymru has launched an alternative budget ahead of the UK Chancellor’s budget statement on Wednesday, calling for a major programme of infrastructure investment across Wales and a transfer of financial powers to allow the Welsh Government to “rebuild and renew the country".
The party’s alternative budget includes ten key policies, ranging from delivering the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon, to producing equality impact assessments on all new pieces of legislation.
The ten key policies are:
- A commitment to maintaining current levels of EU funding for Wales after we leave the EU
- Deliver the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon
- Publish Brexit Impact Assessments, including an assessment of the impact on Wales
- Major package of financial devolution including:
- Full income tax devolution
- Corporation tax devolution
- Responsibility for collecting and retaining VAT revenue
- Full devolution of Air Passenger Duty
- Deliver an infrastructure investment package, including investment in road, rail and digital connectivity
- Including full electrification of all railway lines in Wales
- Devolution of the administration of welfare
- Introduction of a Fuel Duty regulator to ensure fuel prices are maintained at a reasonable and affordable level
- Cut VAT to 5% for tourism sector
- Reverse cut to Corporation Tax, which will cost taxpayers £2.6 billion by 2020/21
- Commit to producing equality impact assessments on all new legislation, including impact on women
Commenting, Plaid Cymru’s Treasury spokesperson, Jonathan Edwards MP, said:
“Plaid Cymru’s alternative budget will rebuild and renew the country. We want to see a major programme of infrastructure upgrades across Wales, including full electrification of all railway lines in Wales, bringing Wales into the 21st century; upgrades to our network of roads including major improvements to the A55 and A470; and a revolutionary programme of digital infrastructure, connecting Wales through ultra-fast broadband and 5G mobile infrastructure.
“The Chancellor needs to remember that he is tasked with delivering for four countries in the UK, not just one. Yet another budget statement full of new infrastructure for England and pennies for Wales will not do.
“As the IPPR called for in September, the only way to tackle the growing geographical inequality across the UK is to transfer a major package of financial powers to the devolved countries so that each country can get on with the job of growing their own economies. Our alternative budget would allow taxes paid in Wales to stay in Wales rather than being exported to Westminster.
“For how much longer will we put up with being told there’s no money to invest in Welsh roads and railways when our own taxes are being used to fund the most expensive railway in the world, linking London with other parts of England? The Chancellor must either use his budget on Wednesday to announce major infrastructure investments across Wales, or give us the tools to do it ourselves.
“We know that Brexit has already cost an average person the equivalent of £448 taken off their salary, with Welsh households once again worse off than Scottish and English households. The Chancellor must get a handle on the rising cost of living and one major expense for many families, especially in rural areas is the cost of fuel. Plaid Cymru’s fuel duty regulator would keep costs down by regulating the taxes paid when the cost of fuel is high.
“It’s also important that government, businesses and ordinary citizens understand the impact that government policies have on their day-to-day lives, be it in terms of cost of living, access to services or otherwise. Our alternative budget includes not only publishing the existing Brexit impact assessments but also a commitment to carrying out equality impact assessments on all new pieces of legislation, ensuring the impact on women, minorities and vulnerable groups is well understood.
“The Chancellor has an opportunity on Wednesday to change course, away from the failed agenda of cutting spending, towards a programme of investment in areas that need it most.”