Ben Lake MP also criticises ‘glaring omission’ of Brexit by Chancellor

Responding to the Autumn Statement, Plaid Cymru Treasury spokesperson Ben Lake MP said:

“The Chancellor was at pains to claim that this statement was not an austerity budget. Let’s be clear – pressures on Welsh public services will continue to worsen after today’s statement due to inflation.

“A decade of austerity followed by the pandemic has stretched our public services to breaking point. The Welsh Government estimated that their ability to fund vital services will be diminished by £4bn. An additional £1.2bn is clearly inadequate for the task.

“The Welsh economy urgently needs proper investment in our underlying infrastructure – from energy, to transport, to digital connectivity. I reiterate Plaid Cymru’s call for the UK Government to establish a commission to reform the tax system in a progressive way. That is the only way to provide sustainable funding for our public services.

“A glaring omission from the Chancellor’s statement was the impact that Brexit has had on the economy. Credibility requires honesty about the economic reality facing us. I urge the Chancellor to recognise that our economic prospects are worsened by being outside the world’s largest trade bloc, and to take practical steps to urgently reduce trade friction.

“In allowing energy prices to surpass £3000 in April, the Chancellor will push thousands of Welsh households into fuel poverty. For those living off the gas-grid the increase in the Alternative Fuel Payment to £200 will be little consolation given that the cost of heating oil has more than doubled over the past year and we are still none the wiser about when the money will be delivered.

“It is also concerning that businesses that are not connected to the mains gas grid are also being made to wait to learn when they will receive support with their heating costs this winter. Many are already having to make difficult decisions, and so I fear that the Government is leaving it too late to help thousands of off grid businesses across Wales.”