Photo Senedd’s Finance Committee stakeholder event at Llanhilleth Miners Institute

Photo Senedd’s Finance Committee stakeholder event at Llanhilleth Miners Institute

How should the Welsh Government prioritise budgets?

Published 12/07/2022   |   Last Updated 15/07/2022   |   Reading Time minutes

As Wales looks to emerge from the pandemic, and deal with ongoing crises, such as the cost of living, and the climate and nature emergencies, how we prioritise our public funding is more important than ever.

This is the backdrop against which the Senedd will debate the Welsh Government’s budget priorities, ahead of next year’s Welsh budget.

The Senedd’s Finance Committee will lead the debate, which will be informed by its recent public engagement work. This is designed to give the public more influence into budgetary decision-making before the Welsh Government’s spending plans are finalised.

How have the public’s views been identified?

The Committee’s public engagement strategy included:

What concerns were raised for the coming year?

All public sector organisations are facing significant challenges, including: inflationary pressures; the cost of living crisis; the climate and nature emergencies; and COVID.

The cost of living crisis means it’s costing more to do the same. This crisis is impacting more on certain groups: such as those who spend a higher proportion of their income on heating and eating, and those living in rural areas without easy access to transport links or other public services.

The need for improved data to inform decision-making was also highlighted. Particularly, to understand the impacts of the cost of living crisis on inequality and poverty and how funding could be most effectively targeted.

Health, mental health and social care was identified as another key area for support, while the role of investing in prevention and the role the wider public sector can play in this is crucial. 

Mitigating the impact of the pandemic on the education, development, mental health and well-being of young people was considered equally important.

Without significantly more funding, the sustainability of public services is at risk and the Welsh Government will have to make difficult choices in the coming budget for next year.

Stakeholders highlighted the risk that challenges around responding to the climate and nature emergencies would continue to grow and should be prioritised as part of decision-making.

Housing policy can help to provide affordable homes and contribute to the net zero agenda.

There were mixed views in terms of how business support was being targeted and some difficulty in understanding the impact that policies are having. 

A summary of the Committee’s engagement has been published..

What happens next with the draft budget?

The Welsh Government is currently undertaking it’s own internal prioritisation processes in preparation for publishing its draft budget later this year. 

The Welsh Government recently requested a delay to publishing its budget. Instead of publishing in early October, it intends to publish either on 13 December or within four weeks of any possible UK autumn budget, whichever is earliest. 

A final decision on the timing of the budget will be taken by the Senedd’s Business Committee.

There will be a public consultation starting in September if you wish to feed in your own views.

Want more information?

There’s information on the current funding available on the Welsh Government’s budgets webpage, and we’ve published a Frequently Asked Questions guide on the budget process.

The Plenary debate on the Welsh Government’s Spending Priorities will take place on 13 July 2022. You can watch it live on Senedd TV.

Article by Martin Jennings, Senedd Research, Welsh Parliament