Glamorgan Gazette Column | November 2017
Chris Elmore's Westminster Eye
The real headline of Phillip Hammond’s Budget last week was a spell of gloomy economic forecasts. The downgrading of projected GDP growth, alongside falling productivity and the ever rising level of national debt illustrates how this Tory Government’s economic policy lies in tatters.
To top off this uncertain economic picture the Chancellor gave a pitiful £1.2 billion to Wales; part of which must be repaid to the Treasury. This money also has significant constraints as to what it can and cannot be spent on.
At such a vital crossroads for our railways across Wales, the Chancellor completely failed to address the funding concerns expressed by colleagues of all parties in recent months. No u-turn on the cancellation of rail electrification West of Cardiff, no confirmation of the funding agreement for the new Wales and Borders franchise and no additional money for essential and much-needed rail upgrades.
To make things worse, there wasn’t a single mention of the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon project which Theresa May’s government have been flip-flopping over since she entered office.
Wales is crying out for infrastructure investment to catalyse economic growth. We cannot go on with this constant agenda of cutting our way to growth. After seven years, it’s clear that this system is not working.
We need long-term solutions from this government. Instead, we’re thrown a railcard and the prospect of driverless cars to shield us from the fragility of our economy. It’s clear that this government is without a driver and its wheels are rapidly falling off.