This week there have been two budgets writes Janet Finch Saunders.
They were published within 24 hours of each other that will impact the lives of the people of Wales for years to come.
Reading these two budgets, one of the few people to do so, they couldn’t be further apart in how to deal with the biggest crises that we have seen since the end of the Second World War.
Instead of a Tale of Two Cities, these budgets are a “Tale of Two Governments.”
One government that is willing to use the opportunity ahead of us to rebuild the economy, using innovation and creativity to create jobs and bounce back from the pandemic as quickly as possible, whilst creating a revolution for green jobs and infrastructure.
The other with no new ideas, who would prefer to rip apart a successful partnership that has protected jobs and businesses, whilst wasting their time discussing constitutional reform instead of job creation and investment.
In his budget this week, Rishi Sunak continued to deliver on the promise made at the start of the pandemic to provide security and stability for families, jobs and businesses. Outlining his three-part plan to support people and businesses, on beginning to fix the public finances and building our future economy, the Chancellor was honest about the situation we’re in but was clear that we are on course to recover faster than previously thought.
But what does his three-part plan mean for Wales?
Putting to one side the historic support for Welsh jobs and businesses to see them through the pandemic – in case anyone needs reminding that’s nearly 400,000 people on furlough, more than 100,000 self-employed people sharing nearly £500 million and an extra £5.85 billion to the Welsh Government to tackle Covid – the Chancellor gave a vision of how he and the Prime Minister wants to rebuild the UK.
The new UK Infrastructure Bank will see £12 billion invested in rebuilding the UK. Help to Grow giving businesses the helping hand they need to innovate and continue the digital revolution many companies and employees have gone through over the last 12 months.
But it’s not just all government handouts to kickstart the economy. The Chancellor has taken a bold decision to support businesses to help themselves to rebuild. The new “super deduction” will see more than £20 billion invested by companies to grow; giving them a hand-up, rather than a hand-out. Ultimately, the Chancellor is fuelling the economic engine for jobs, jobs, jobs.
The UK’s commitment to infrastructure shows that levelling-up is not just a slogan or a soundbite, it’s a fundamental that the UK Government has committed to and is delivering.
Let’s also not forget that whilst some were predicting tax rises across the board, the UK Government has instead doubled down on its commitment to supporting working people. Rishi made it very clear that he didn’t believe it was right to tax working people – and I agree with him.
As Conservatives we have been progressive and fair by doubling the personal tax allowance, making sure people keep as much of their hard earned money to spend how they want.
This is clearly something which the Welsh Government does not agree with.
After May 6th we might find ourselves with another Welsh Government which is intent on taxing hard working people and not supporting them to rebuild after the pandemic.
A Social Care Tax. A Tourism Tax. Taxes for driving your car. Taxes for going to work. What other taxes might they be considering?
Whilst Andrew RT Davies has been calling for a roadmap to rebuild the Welsh economy, there is just silence from the Welsh Government.
More concerned about fighting old battles over Brexit and finding any way to pull apart our Union, they’ve forgotten that to be in government means they have to focus on creating jobs and supporting our vital public services.
Wales is at a crossroads. The pandemic has laid bare what is and isn’t working in Wales. Looking at these two budgets, the vision in one and the lack of aspiration in the other, I know which road I want Wales to take over the coming months.
Janet Finch-Saunders is the Member of the Senedd for Aberconwy and the Shadow Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs.