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Labour lets Wales down at both ends of the M4

04/04/2022

Plaid Cymru’s Deputy Leader has said she is staggered that even after the independent Holtham Commission showed beyond doubt that Wales was being underfunded, the Labour Secretary of State for Wales did not once write to the Treasury regarding reform of the way Wales is funded.

 

Helen Mary Jones, who is standing in the Llanelli constituency at the Welsh general election in May, said it was unforgivable that Wales had continued to lose out on around £300m every year because Labour sat back and ignored the evidence it was presented with.

A Freedom of Information request from Plaid Cymru highlighted that not once between 2005, and when they left office in 2010, did a Labour run Wales Office contact the Treasury to discuss reform of the Barnett formula.  Whilst details show that Labour had made representations to the Prime Minister, no letters, emails or meetings were recorded to show that action with the Treasury had taken place.  Even after a Treasury paper on the Holtham Commission was received by the Wales Office, discussing the prevention of further convergence, no response through emails, letters or recorded meetings was noted.  The information exposed Labour’s inaction from the Wales Office only a matter of weeks after a similar FOI showed that successive Labour administrations in Cardiff had done nothing to tackle the issue of fair funding for Wales.

 

Ms Jones said that it was insulting to the people of Wales that Labour should claim to stand up for them when they have consistently been caught out for having let the people of Wales down.  The Llanelli candidate said it was especially damning that even in their final days of government Labour stood firm in refusing to make changes to the way Wales was funded.

 

Helen Mary Jones said:

 

“It’s staggering that since 2005 successive Labour Secretaries of State for Wales did nothing to highlight the way Wales was missing out on an estimated £300m per year with the Treasury.  It is shocking, and unforgivable, that even after the independent Holtham commission exposed this injustice once and for all, Labour politicians still sat on their hands and seemingly did nothing. 

 

“We know that through the first 12 years of Labour governments in the Assembly absolutely no effort was made on any level to get a fair funding deal for Wales.  Now through this freedom of information request we can see that the inaction we saw from Labour in Cardiff Bay was matched at the other end of the M4.

 

“It is disgraceful that Labour Secretary of States in Westminster were presented with the evidence of the Holtham Commission, showing beyond doubt that Wales is losing out to the tune of £300m per year, yet chose to do nothing to gain any concessions from the Treasury.  They chose to ignore this unfairness and it has left Welsh communities counting the cost. 

 

“It is appalling to think that so many millions could have been spent on building hospitals, closing the education funding gap or supporting businesses but due to Labour’s incompetence and ignorance it has been lost.”

 

ENDS / DIWEDD

Notes:

  • The FOI Request asked: “all correspondence (including letters, emails and minutes of meetings) to and from the Wales Office and the Treasury (including all Ministers, Secretary of State and Officials) relating to the Barnett formula between May 2005 - May 2010.”
  • All correspondence received is attached.  Not once did the Wales Office write to the Treasury regarding review or reform of the Barnett formula before or following the publication of the Holtham Commission. 
  • A previous Freedom of information request asked for copies of all correspondence (including letters, emails and minutes of meetings) to and from the Welsh Assembly Government and the UK treasury (including all Ministers, Secretary of State, Special Advisors and Officials) between 1999-2005 relating to the need to review and reform the Barnett formula. The response stated that ‘there is no information to disclose that falls within the definition of what you have requested.’
  • A further Freedom of information request asked for copies of all correspondence (including letters, emails and minutes of meetings) to and from the Welsh Assembly Government and the UK treasury (including all Ministers, Secretary of State, Special Advisors and Officials) between 2005-2007 relating to the need to review and reform the Barnett formula.  The response stated ‘I have not found any information that fits this description.’
  • The graph showing the progressive decline in the Welsh block grant since 1999 can be found on page 10 of the Barnett formula. http://wales.gov.uk/docs/icffw/report/090708barnettsummaryen.pdf
  • Labour recognised there was a problem with Barnett in 2000 when Rhodri Morgan said In a BBC interview with John Humphrys: ‘I mean the Barnett Formula is now putting a lot of pressure on expenditure in Wales. We now cannot keep up with the percentage increases in health and education that the Department of Health and the Department of Education and Employment are doing in England....Convergence is crippling us’
  • For more information on Labour’s failings please visit www.WhereWasLabour.com or  www.lleoeddllafur.com