Brown gives Euro boost to Wales

The Chancellor, Gordon Brown, has announced that Wales will get extra money to allow it to deliver European funds.

Mr Brown said the increased budget would also allow for matched funding.

The special allocation will be £80m, £90m and £102m during the next three years.

The total Welsh budget will increase by 5.4% in real terms during each of the next three years.

He is also transferring responsibility for the European Social Fund from David Blunkett’s Department of Employment to the National Assembly.

This will be worth £149m during the next three years.

Mr Brown also unveiled plans for a massive increase in public spending in Wales – but told the National Assembly it will have to provide funds to match European funds from within its overall settlement.

The Secretary of State for Wales, Paul Murphy, says the settlement is an excellent deal for Wales.

The National Assembly’s budget will hit £10bn within three years. This includes the European Objective One grants.

Welsh Secretary Paul Murphy has emphasized that Objective One projects in Wales will not fail because of lack of money.

Mr Murphy said that the argument about funding was “now over.”

Mr Murphy said that there would be further announcements over the next few days which would lead to more money for Wales – such as the Transport Plan.

He also said that there were a range of possibilities for securing match funding for Wales – lottery cash, or money from the Department for Education and Employment for projects associated with the New Deal.

He denied that the Assembly would have to provide all the public money for match funding for Objective One.

But Plaid Cymru have said that the CSR is a “slap in the face for Wales.”

Ieuan Wyn Jones, the AM for Ynys Mon, said that the announcement meant that the National Assembly will not be able to make full use of Objective One funds allocated to Wales.

Plaid Cymru has calculated that only part of the European component of the funds are available and that no sum has been allocated for match funding.

Mr Jones also said that if Labour were to take full advantage of the European funds then they would have to “cut spending on key public services”.

“Tony Blair and Gordon Brown have let Wales down today and Rhodri Morgan is right – Labour will suffer a haemorrhage of votes in Wales at the next general election,” he added.