THE UNITED Kingdom should use the recovery from the coronavirus pandemic as an opportunity to "build back fairer", first minister Mark Drakeford has said.

Mr Drakeford said he called for more to be done in the recovery from the pandemic - particularly with regards to the levels of child poverty across the UK - at yesterday's meeting between the devolved administrations and the UK government.

The first ministers and deputy first ministers met virtually with the prime minister, chancellor, chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and the secretary of states for each nation to discuss the United Kingdom’s recovery from coronavirus.


"Child poverty in the United Kingdom remains a scandal in a country which is one of the richest countries on the face of the globe," said Mr Drakeford.

"I took the opportunity yesterday in the meeting with the prime minister where the chancellor of the exchequer was also present to press the UK government not to cut the £20 extra to Universal Credit that was introduced as part of the pandemic.

"There are many many families in Wales where children rely on that £20 for basic things. At the moment, the UK government provides no guarantee about that £20 beyond the end of September and it's high time they gave those families the comfort and the confidence of knowing that they’re not going to have to manage on even less money.

"I also took the opportunity to say to the chancellor of the exchequer, who talked in the meeting about an investment-led recovery, that that investment-led recovery has to be one that deals with the inequalities in the United Kingdom that were sharply exposed by the coronavirus experience, and it will not be a proper recovery if we don't build back fairer.

"We will wait to see whether those points were firmly understood by the chancellor and by the Prime Minister but I wanted to take that opportunity - a relatively rare opportunity - to make those points directly to them."

Mr Drakeford said he was cautiously optimistic of the outcomes of the meeting, as long as this was the start of a more joined up four nation approach to recovering from the pandemic.

"It was a worthwhile meeting, I'm glad it happened," he said. "It was an opportunity for a fairly frank exchange of views on how we are going to be able to work together better in the future.

"My contribution was mostly focused on those border zone issues where the UK government has powers, where the Welsh government has powers, and where we need to put them to work together in order to make the biggest impact, particularly to help our economy to recover.

"The real proof of the meeting is whether it will lead to any practical changes and in particular whether it sets a new pattern of engagement for the future.

"If it is just an ad hoc one-off meeting of the sort that we become sadly used to then it really will not have done the job that I would want it to do.

"If it does become the first in a reliable pattern of regular engagement then I think that genuinely would offer us all an improved opportunity to share information exchange views and make better decisions. I hope that that's what it will be, but I think we've just got to wait to see given the history of the last 12 months."