This is a somewhat austere Welsh budget. It is the final year in the three-year spending review period and it is apparent that there is a lot less funding available to meet all statutory commitments, let alone the Welsh Government's ambitious Programme. It starts by stating that following the UK Autumn Statement, the Wales budget is now worth £1.3bn less in real terms than when it was set in 2021. Yet again we see the emergence of the word 'Radical' and the finger of blame being pointed, whether rightly or wrongly, toward Westminster. (Suffice to say the voting public does not care who is at fault be it Cardiff, Westminster or indeed the global economy, there are deep worrying fiscal problems and they need solving jointly).
The Welsh Government points out that they 'we will continue to spend more than half a billion pounds to help households and businesses pay their council and Non-Domestic Rates bills' the level of which is though reducing and is undoubtably an indication as to future direction. How this will play out in the tourism industry or indeed the high street is a difficult call, but it is unlikely to have a positive effect in the long term.
Also disappointingly, arts and culture spending (including a 20% cut in Cadw funding) has been sliced from the draft budget. Hospitality and tourism businesses face a hike in business rates, as above and the rural affairs budget is also facing significant cuts in an attempt to fill the hole in health and social care spending.
As the budget narrative states 'This is a difficult budget in extraordinary times. But ultimately it is a budget which targets investment towards the public services we all value the most'.
The full documentation can be found here: Draft Budget 2024 to 2025 narrative (gov.wales)