Budget 2021: Recovery plan must protect jobs and rebalance economy away from London
Plaid Cymru urge Chancellor not to repeat failures of austerity years
Plaid Cymru’s Treasury spokesperson, Ben Lake MP, has today (Sunday 28 February) called on the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak MP, to set out a recovery plan that will “secure jobs today and rebalance the economy for tomorrow”.
Writing in Wales on Sunday, the Ceredigion MP urged the Chancellor against “pulling the plug too early” by prioritising “fiscal discipline”, a term Mr Lake said is “code for austerity, the destruction of which is still felt in communities across the UK.”
Mr Lake said that the Universal Credit uplift, the furlough scheme, and self-employment schemes should be maintained with alterations for the next financial year, adding that “waiting for the health crisis to subside before drawing these support schemes to a close makes economic sense”.
Looking to the future, Ben Lake urged the UK Government to “lift its ungrounded and restrictive borrowing cap on the Welsh Government”, a move he says would give Wales the “power to deliver the green economic stimulus essential to charting a fairer and more prosperous future”.
The Plaid Cymru MP’s call follows the UK Government’s decision on 24 February to stop Wales from deciding how it spends money allocated through the Levelling Up Fund. Now, the UK Government will decide how money through the fund, as well as the Shared Prosperity Fund, will be spent in Wales, infringing on devolved economic development powers. Mr Lake described the move as having “undermined Welsh democracy”.
Ben Lake MP writes:
“When the Chancellor steps up to the despatch box on Wednesday, he will have the choice of either protecting taxpayers’ investment in our recovery, or pulling the plug too early and letting it all go down the drain – and the recovery along with it. This is his chance to set out a recovery that will secure jobs today and rebalance the economy for tomorrow.”
“Reports abound that the Chancellor, a self-professed fiscal conservative is eager to slash spending on support schemes and increase taxes in the name of “fiscal discipline”. This is less an economic term and more a watchword for the Conservative party on how to differentiate themselves politically from the Labour party. ‘Fiscal discipline’ is code for austerity, the destruction of which is still felt in communities across the UK.
“To protect incomes and jobs, Plaid Cymru not only believes the Universal Credit uplift must be continued, but that the furlough and self-employment scheme must be extended with alterations for the next financial year.
“Waiting for the health crisis to subside before drawing these support schemes to a close makes economic sense. Doing so would ensure continued support for businesses and employment while we gain a better understanding of, and adjust to, the new market conditions.”
Concluding, Mr Lake writes:
“We will be calling on the UK government to lift its ungrounded and restrictive borrowing cap on the Welsh government to grant Wales the financial powers to invest in our priorities. Having undermined Welsh democracy through the Internal Market Act, the Shared Prosperity Fund and now the Levelling Up Fund – the UK Government must now signal its faith in Wales by giving us the powers to deliver the green economic stimulus essential to charting a fairer and more prosperous future.
“Our recovery will be more resilient and more accountable if decisions are taken as closely as possible to our communities.
“In every way, this Budget is far more important than the last and will determine our post-pandemic future. I hope the Chancellor puts livelihoods and fairness before political partisanship and ideology.”