Welsh Government accused of ‘sitting on’ £500m but says ‘irresponsible’ to splash all reserves now

Welsh Government says it would be “irresponsible” to commit all its reserves now after being accused of “sitting on” a £500m funding pot for firms.

The Welsh Conservatives say that there is “100s of millions of pounds” left over in Covid support funding and should be used for the hospitality sector as it is hit by a cancellation crisis and the nation faces additional restrictions after December 27.

Welsh Government has so far committed £60m but said with a quarter of the financial year left it would be “irresponsible” to spend every penny of the reserves now and leave no support for the next three months.

They have requested the Treasury increase support for the hospitality sector and “demonstrate HM Treasury supports the whole of the UK, not just England”.

In England Chancellor Rishi Sunak has so far resisted calls for extra support for impacted sectors and has been under fire from hospitality chiefs for jetting off to California for meetings with tech firms amid the crisis.

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “Financial support of up to £60m will be available to businesses materially affected by these new restrictions. We are working intensively with partners on how that support can most effectively be delivered, and further details will follow as soon as possible.

“This package of support comes from our reserve, which must last for the remainder of the financial year. It would be irresponsible for Ministers to run down the entire reserve now when the Covid situation remains so uncertain.

“While the Welsh Government will continue to allocate the remaining funding during the rest of this financial year, responding to any emerging issues Wales might face in early 2022, the UK Government must now step up and provide the financial firepower only HM Treasury can deploy to help support Welsh businesses and employees impacted by the pandemic.

“Now is the time for the UK Government to demonstrate HM Treasury supports the whole of the UK, not just England.”

Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies MS said: “The Government’s financial firepower has been witnessed throughout the pandemic with the Chancellor delivering more than several billion pounds to support Welsh families, workers, and businesses tackle the numerous challenges we’ve faced.

Welsh conservative leader, Andrew RT Davies

“People in Wales don’t care whether money for their public services and pandemic recovery comes from London or Cardiff – as long as it does what it is meant to do, which is deliver for Wales.

“To that end, the Labour Government is sadly sitting on £500m of Covid support and they must urgently use this funding – plus the additional money coming down the line – to support and protect the people of Wales.”

He added: “The Labour Government must now use the 100s of millions of pounds left over in Covid support funding to help businesses and protect jobs.”

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