Secretary of State David TC Davies says that progress is being made in growing the economy and spreading jobs, prosperity and investment across Wales.

Welsh Secretary David TC Davies

The UK Government has never been more active in its delivery for Wales than in 2023, Welsh Secretary David TC Davies has said.

In a New Year message, Mr Davies said that huge progress was being made in growing the economy and delivering major projects to spread jobs, prosperity and investment right across the country.

The UK Government has stepped up to invest in projects across the breadth of Wales, from Pembroke to Ynys Môn, Monmouthshire to Port Talbot – with a relentless focus on empowering and improving communities and people’s opportunities.

Funding for levelling up in Wales has now reached £2 billion. In 2023 the UK Government announced two Investment Zones and two Freeports alongside investing in dozens of projects the length and breadth of Wales aimed at restoring town centres, boosting infrastructure and enhancing tourism facilities.

David TC Davies said:

As Welsh Secretary I am proud to be part of an administration which is the most active UK Government in Wales since devolution began a quarter of a century ago.

Through five Welsh growth deals, two freeports, various levelling up funding streams and two new Investment Zones the UK Government is delivering an extra £2 billion in direct investment in Wales, on top of the record funding we are providing to the Welsh Government to deliver its devolved services like health and education. 

I am also delighted that we are investing directly in transport infrastructure including £1 billion on the electrification of the North Wales Main Line, £5 million to improve transport links in Monmouthshire and, earlier this month, it was fantastic to see my Wales Office colleague Fay Jones open the restored Barmouth Viaduct following a £30 million restoration funded by UK Government.

He added:

These investments matter greatly to communities and are possible because the UK Government’s economic plan is working. Just a few weeks ago I listened in the House of Commons as more and more good news for Wales was announced in the Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s Autumn Statement. 

His measures meant that around 1.2 million workers in Wales will benefit from an average of £324 back in their pocket through National Insurance cuts and there was the biggest-ever increase in the National Living Wage announced for 130,000 Welsh workers.

The triple lock was maintained for pensioners, benefits will continue to rise in line with inflation, alcohol duty was frozen and the Local Housing Allowance increased.

Specifically for Wales, there was an ambitious commitment to floating offshore wind, £800,000 for the Space Technology Test Centre in North Wales and the much-loved Hay Festival in Powys received £500,000. 

And as a result of England-only announcements in the Autumn Statement, there was also an additional £305 million in Barnett Consequentials for the Welsh Government, on top of its record block grant, to spend on devolved responsibilities. Despite some claims to the contrary, the Welsh Government is well funded and is currently receiving over 20% more funding per person than equivalent UK government spending in other parts of the UK.

The Welsh Secretary also looked back at significant events in Wales and the UK during 2023.

He said:

It was a proud personal moment to attend the coronation of King Charles III and Queen Camilla in May and to be present at such a significant moment for the country. The new King has a well-established and strong relationship with Wales and I know the links between the Royal Family and the people of Wales will continue to grow stronger.

There will also be a new First Minister in Wales in 2024 and I look forward to working constructively with Mark Drakeford’s successor.

Looking ahead to 2024, Mr Davies added that Wales could approach the New Year with optimism.

The Welsh Secretary said:

The Prime Minister and I are determined to do all in our power to ensure that Wales’ prosperity is increased and its potential realised. 

This year I look forward greatly to seeing our new Investment Zones and Freeports getting up and running and the completion of many of the levelling up investments we have made in every one of the 22 local authorities in Wales. 

It was incredibly important that the UK Government acted to preserve steelmaking in Port Talbot last year with a £500 million package for Tata Steel and I will continue my work as the chair of the £100 million Transition Board throughout 2024. 

Finally, we recently saw Wales’ men’s team finally play at a football World Cup and I hope to see the team travel to Germany next year for Euro 2024 following their incredible success in the 2016 tournament.

I am certain that we have a bright year ahead in Wales and I look forward once again to travelling to every part of the country to see the delivery of UK Government investment in our communities.

Published 29 December 2023