THE UK Treasury needs to do more to support the people of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, according to first minister Mark Drakeford.

Speaking in a press conference earlier today, Mr Drakeford said that help from the Treasury would be needed if the Welsh Government was to be able to continue to support businesses and people affected by restrictions.

The Welsh Government has already announced £60 million will be made available to businesses that affected by the new restrictions coming in on December 27 – which include nightclubs closing and social distancing returning, meaning shops will have to bring back one-way systems and barriers.

Mr Drakeford said that this money had been carefully calculated to cover the period of January for those businesses in terms of the costs the Welsh Government themselves have covered for businesses when necessary throughout the pandemic.

He said: “Our ability to sustain longer term economic support during this new wave of what is an ongoing public health emergency is severely constrained due to the UK Treasury and its refusal to open schemes such as furlough.”

He also said that there was a significant level of inequality with the schemes.

“If more were to be needed, that can only be done with the assistance of the UK Treasury," he said. "Only they have the fire power. The current system simply isn’t fair.

“If the UK Government were to decide to take further measures, the Treasury will support them, but if I or the first ministers in Scotland and Northern Ireland were to make those measures, we cannot guarantee the support. It simply isn’t fair.”

Mr Drakeford did not confirm whether further restrictions would have been implemented already if Treasury support was in place.

“We have never been able to cover the costs of wages of people whose livelihoods have been impacted," he said. "That has always been the UK Government’s furlough scheme.

"I want to recognise the enormous effort the Treasury made in finding the funding to put those schemes in place. But if we are facing a wave this significant, then I think there is a responsibility on the UK Treasury to make it clear there will be support.


“We have never been able to cover the wages, it and the furlough scheme has always been through the UK Government. The systems to distribute the furlough money belong to the HMRC so we don’t have access.”

Mr Drakeford also also said that he, alongside his counterparts in Scotland and Northern Ireland, had spoken to the Treasury about the possibility of bringing the furlough scheme back, but - with chancellor Rishi Sunak currently in California on government business - there was no indication about whether this would happen.

He added: “It is not fair that UK ministers can act when they need to act because the treasury will be there to support them, when us as devolved nations, need to wait until English minister are ready to act so we can get the support.

“We discussed this with UK ministers on Wednesday and they said there were no further plans to support the economy in regards to coronavirus. I said that was unfair and will go on making the case and I have no doubt that some UK ministers will go on and make that case.”

He also said how the calls were also being made by trade unions and private and public sector bosses to provide this financial support.