Shadow Finance Minister Mark Isherwood has called for increased funding for the third sector to enable it to fulfil its central role in the recovery from the pandemic.
Raising the matter with the Finance Minister in yesterday’s virtual meeting of the Welsh Parliament, Mr Isherwood emphasised the increased demand on charities due to Covid, stressed that they have lost 24% of their income in the past year, and called on the Welsh Government to provide them with additional funding to that outlined in its Draft Budget.
“Responding to the Finance Committee’s consultation on the Welsh Government’s draft budget proposals, the Wales Council for Voluntary Action stated ‘the voluntary sector must be supported and resourced to fulfil its central role in the recovery from the pandemic’ and ‘Co-production must play a key part in the design and delivery of preventative services’.
“Their response to the Draft Budget proposals went further, stating: ‘The voluntary sector continues to require greater resource to respond to increasing demand on its services’ and ‘The sector has many groups and organisations which have developed to redress specific problems or prevent them worsening’.
“They are also preventing massive additional financial pressure on public Health and Care Services.
“How, will you therefore respond financially to their concern that ‘although the draft budget states that an additional £700,000 will be provided, on top of the £3 million to support the sector in its response to COVID-19 and the £24 million Welsh Government Third Sector Covid-19 Response Fund, charities in Wales have lost around 24% of their income this year, or £1.2 billion for charities based in Wales’?
“In other words, without the extra investment required, it's going to cost the Treasury and the Exchequer in Wales a lot more money than they would otherwise require to prevent that demand being created.”
In her response, the Finance Minister said the Welsh Government have provided specific support for the sector and “sought to give them some kind of assurance in terms of the future of the response to the pandemic”.
She added: “I'll be exploring the issues that have been raised right throughout all of the committees with my colleagues within the Welsh Government as we move towards the final budget, listening also to the comments that were made in yesterday's debate and having some further discussions regarding what support might be needed”.