Rebecca Evans MS, Minister for Finance and Trefnydd
Earlier this month for the first time since devolution, I, together with the Finance Ministers in Scotland and Northern Ireland, simultaneously made oral statements in our respective legislatures calling for urgent clarity on the UK Government’s plans for the Spending Review and Treasury funding. We called for meaningful involvement in the Spending Review to enable planning of Budgets.
Last week, without any prior consultation, the UK Government announced a one-year Spending Review to be concluded in ‘late’ November. At a Finance Ministers’ Quadrilateral the day after the announcement, we pressed the Chief Secretary to the Treasury for confirmation of when the Spending Review would take place. Again, we were told ‘late’ November. Less than a week later, the Chancellor has confirmed the Spending Review will take place on 25 November. While yesterday’s announcement at least provides clarity on when we will receive our settlement for next year, this piecemeal approach to providing certainty and handling public finances is deeply unhelpful and makes the task of managing our budget an extremely difficult one. It also impacts on our partners, stakeholders and delivery bodies.
When I set out the timeline for publishing the Welsh Government’s budget before the summer recess, I said then it would be largely dependent on the timing of the UK Government’s Spending Review. I have today written to the Finance Committee and the Business Committee setting out the implications of yesterday’s announcement for the timing of our budget.
With their agreement, my intention is to defer publication of the Welsh Government’s Budget until 21 December. In essence, this means adopting a similar timeline to last year’s Budget and I will make a statement as soon as possible on the draft Budget in the first sitting week after Christmas. The proposed timetable will still allow 7 weeks of scrutiny.