Cost of living, climate, jobs: the three tests for today’s UK Budget
Plaid Cymru outline key asks ahead of Chancellor’s statement
Plaid Cymru’s Treasury spokesperson, Ben Lake MP, has this morning (Wednesday 27 October) outlined his party’s key asks ahead of the Chancellor’s Autumn Budget and Spending Review. He said that today presents a crucial test for Rishi Sunak on three fronts: the cost of living crisis, climate change and jobs.
He said that while “winning the day’s headlines” on the cost-of-living crisis would be easy, but called for “concrete policies that will put more money in people’s pockets”.
To mitigate the cost-of-living crisis for people in rural areas, he called for the Rural Fuel Duty Relief scheme to be extended to Wales. The scheme provides a 5 pence per litre (ppl) reduction to fuel retailers in specific rural areas, none of which are currently in Wales. He added that investment in public transport, especially in rural areas, “simply has to increase”.
To address the crisis in energy bills and to show global leadership ahead of COP26, Mr Lake urged the Chancellor to announce a £360 million a year commitment to kickstart the decarbonisation of Wales’ housing stock, as recommended by the Wales Future Generations Commissioner.
He finally called on the Chancellor to “support small businesses” by increasing the Employment Allowance from £4,000 to £5,000 would protect small businesses from the tax rises and National Insurance increase planned for April.
Speaking ahead of the Budget, Plaid Cymru's Treasury spokesperson, Ben Lake MP said:
“Today is a crucial test for the Chancellor on three fronts: cost-of-living, climate, jobs.
“Winning the day’s headlines on the cost-of-living crisis will be easy – but we need concrete policies that will put more money in people’s pockets, both in the short and long-term. Secondly, he must show global leadership on climate action ahead of COP26. And finally, he must support jobs by alleviating some of the burdens on small businesses.
“With sky high energy and fuel prices, cuts to Universal Credit, higher taxes and rising inflation – people all over Wales are anxious about the months ahead. People living in rural areas are set to lose out disproportionately, due to public infrastructure spending being much lower than the UK average.
“A short-term measure that the Chancellor should announce today would be an extension of Rural Fuel Duty Relief scheme to Wales. This would recognise the abysmal lack of transport infrastructure in rural Wales and ensure people in rural areas are not forced to shoulder an unfair share of ever higher fuel costs. In the longer term investment in public transport, especially in rural areas, simply has to increase.
“We are also calling on the Chancellor to announce a £360 million a year commitment to kickstart the decarbonisation of Wales’ housing stock, as recommended by the Wales Future Generations Commissioner. This would not only set a global example on climate action ahead of the COP26 summit – it would also save people in Wales an average of £418 per year on their energy bills, totalling £8.26 billion of savings by 2040.
“Finally, the Chancellor must look to support small businesses at the end of what has been an incredibly challenging two years. Increasing the Employment Allowance from £4,000 to £5,000 would help small businesses weather the initial rise in National Insurance increase planned for April, allowing them to continue in their role as key employers in the Welsh economy.”