world : What are Labour's manifesto plans for Wales?

world : What are Labour's manifesto plans for Wales?
world : What are Labour's manifesto plans for Wales?

Thursday 13 June 2024 10:31 PM

Nafeza 2 world - Labour has published its plans for what it will do should it win the general election on July 4.

Its manifesto plans to boost spending by raising more than £8bn in tax, a move it says would be worth at least £195m to the Welsh government by 2028-29.

Labour says it will look at devolving youth justice and probation, and promises to restore decision making on economic aid to Wales.

It stands in contrast to the views of the Welsh Labour government, who want to take control over policing and the criminal justice system, neither of which are supported by the policy document.

There is a promise to address concerns over how the system that governs what the Welsh government receives in the block grant, versus how much is raised in tax.

The Welsh Conservatives said talk of devolving more powers was a "distraction".

Plaid Cymru accused Labour of a "post-EU fund fudge" over economic aid, demanding to know which of the Welsh government or the Welsh secretary will hold the levers.

More detail is expected when the party launches the Welsh version of its manifesto in the next few weeks.

There was no mention of extra funds for Wales off the back of the spending on the high speed railway line between London and Birmingham - something the Welsh government has supported for some time.

Labour's tax promises will apply in Wales as much across the border.

The manifesto confirmed the party's pledge not to raise income tax, VAT or national insurance, and to cap corporation tax at its current 25% rate.

But it says it will raise £7bn in part from closing loopholes for non-domiciled people and cracking down on tax avoidance schemes.

Cash would also come from imposing VAT and business rates on private schools.

Labour say the money would be used to fund a number of extra policies in public services in England, such as more operations and extra CT scanners.

The document does not give blow-by-blow figures for all the things that could trigger extra funding, but does say put a figure on at least £195m in Wales coming by 2028-29.

Employment law is not devolved, and Labour say it will ban "exploitative" zero-hours contracts within the first 100 days of a Labour government.

Commitments on criminal justice will be UK wide too - that includes promises for more neighbourhood officers, and to deal with the court backlog.

Labour has said the plan will "restore decision-making" to "representatives" of Wales over the allocation of economic aid, known as structural funds.

The funds date back to UK's time in the European Union, when Wales received extra money because of its relative economic performance.

Under the Conservatives and after Brexit the system were replaced with the Shared Prosperity Fund, which was criticised for concentrating control with the UK government, instead of ministers in Cardiff who were in charge of administering the old system.

It is not clear in the manifesto who the representatives of Wales are - although it appears that the two governments would work together on the scheme.

Asked to clarify, a Labour source said: "There will be an agreement on the precise framework, and the Welsh government will have a decision making role".

"But this is about partnership, two Labour governments working together - rather than working in silos."

A Plaid Cymru spokesperson urged Labour to clarify who they mean will control structural funds.

They said: "Labour’s commitment to restoring decision-making over post-EU funds to representatives of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland is at best mealy mouthed.

"They should say what they really mean. Last year Keir Starmer promised to repatriate the funding to Welsh government, but today it looks like he meant the would-be Labour Welsh secretary."

The Welsh government under Mark Drakeford had pushed for further devolution - in particular on policing and criminal justice.

Vaughan Gething has not abandoned the aim, but it has never been endorsed by the central Labour party.

Gordon Brown's earlier report on devolution did however support giving Cardiff control of youth justice and the probation service.

The manifesto says, however, that it will "explore" the devolution of probation "to enable them to be more locally responsive", as part of a strategic review into probation.

It will also "consider" the devolution of youth justice.

Labour are avoiding being overly prescriptive about how it might work before it looks into both issues, and because of their complexities.

The manifesto says it will devolved "employment support funding" to the Welsh government.

More of a role is envisaged for the Wales Office, the Westminster department which represents Wales in the UK government.

The manifesto says it will "once again became an advocate for Wales at home and abroad, and facilitate closer collaboration" between the UK and Welsh governments.

Meanwhile the manifesto says that the Welsh fiscal framework - the set of rules that determine how much the Welsh government gets in grants versus how much it raises in income tax - is "out of date".

It said the UK government will work with the Welsh government to ensure the framework "delivers value for money".

The Welsh Conservatives' Senedd leader Andrew RT Davies said: "Talk of devolving more powers is just another distraction from Labour, who are more obsessed with empowering their own ministers in Cardiff Bay than they are with empowering the people of Wales."

He criticised Labour's section on farming being "only 87 words long", claiming it shows "their lack of commitment to our rural communities".

Labour's Shadow Secretary of State for Wales Jo Stevens said: "Our manifesto will guarantee a stronger Wales in a changed Britain. We will sweep away the chaos and division, and deliver the ambitious future Wales deserves.

"Two Labour governments, working together, will build a new partnership for Wales, focused on people’s day-to-day priorities."

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