Whitehall faces another headache over the HS2 project with calls from the Welsh Government to receive money it feels it is owed as a result of the project.
Under the Barnett Formula the devolved nations are supposed to receive a share from the UK Government of money spent on projects in England only. However, despite HS2 not passing through Wales at all, Ministers in London have classed the project as being ‘UK wide’ thereby neglecting the need for the Treasury to pay out. The Welsh Government has now called for Whitehall to pay up.
Calling for the money to be provided to enable Wales to “maximise the potential benefits” of the project, a spokesperson for the Welsh Government said:
“In the Treasury report Investing in Britain published in June, the UK Government set out an overall funding envelope for HS2 and a budget of £16bn from 2015-16 to 2020-21, clarifying that this will be funded from UK Government capital budgets.
“We are working to ensure that Wales receives the consequential funding resulting from this decision and to ensure we maximise the potential benefits for Wales from this major infrastructure investment.
“In our evidence to the Silk Commission (which is examining the funding arrangements of the National Assembly), we make clear we see scope for change in the devolution settlement as it applies to rail services and rail infrastructure. In fact we are already pursuing these options with the UK Department of Transport as part of the planning for the new Wales and Borders franchise.”
In criticising what he dubbed as a “u-turn” from the Labour Party in Wales as a result of the party positioning itself to “ditch support for HS2”, Plaid Cymru’s Treasury spokesperson, Jonathan Edwards MP has outlined the transport improvements that could be made through providing Wales with the money he feels it is owed. He explained:
“Plaid Cymru has consistently campaigned for a HS2 equivalent consequential for Wales – a substantial amount of money that could be in invested in our own roads and railways to generate jobs and vastly improve services.
“The North Wales line is in desperate need of electrification and the creation of a South Wales Metro would ease congestion and improve commutes throughout the region.”
A Department for Transport spokesperson has said:
“HS2 will be a vital part of our national infrastructure, boosting regional growth across the country and providing vital capacity the UK needs to compete in the global race. Barnett consequentials will be determined at the next spending review. Under existing arrangements we would not expect the Welsh Government to receive Barnett consequentials of spending on the national rail network.”
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