THE WELSH Government has said it has created a £380 million package of support to help address the cost of living crisis. 

However the government acknowledges the total funding covers policies announced since last November. 

The announcement comes just a day after first minister Mark Drakeford highlighted what he called the “Tory cost of living crisis” as he launched Labour’s campaign for May’s local government elections with UK leader Keir Starmer

The government will make a further £15m available to local authorities for the Discretionary Assistance Fund to provide financial support for those experiencing extreme financial pressures, extending the additional support until the end of March 2023. That is on top of the £25m already announced. 

Other funding previously announced by the Welsh Government includes the Winter Fuel Support Scheme which provided a £200 payment for eligible households to help meet the cost of essential bills over the winter and the £150 payment for households in Council tax bands A-D and all households supported by the Council Tax Reduction Scheme. That support was announced in response to a council tax rebate in England. 

The Welsh Government says it is considering how it can widen the Winter Fuel Support scheme to ensure more people receive the £200 payment. 

It will also host its second cost of living summit in the summer to look at what further action can be taken. 

Much of the funding announced by finance minister Rebecca Evans and social justice minister Jane Hutt is delivered by local authorities. 

They have both called on the UK Conservative government to take more action to address rising everyday costs from grocery shopping, fuel prices and energy bills. 

Campaigners staged rallies across the UK, including in Cardiff last weekend, to demand “immediate relief” from the government for rising costs. 

A statement from the Welsh ministers outlined the government is taking action with the Office for Budget Responsibility stating 2022-2023 will see the biggest fall in living standards in the UK since records began. 

It highlighted the UK Government’s National Insurance rise, which has been a key campaigning point for Labour, and the energy price cap lift as pushing people further into hardship. 

That National Insurance rise will see people paying more from now until July when the higher threshold, announced in the spring statement, will kick in and the point at which people start paying the tax will rise, removing some lower paid workers from it alltogether. 

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Hutt said the Welsh Government’s budget has only increased by £27m for the current financial year, as a result of the spring statement, and criticised the Westminster government for “soundbites about levelling up” rather than providing “real solutions”. 

The UK Government has repeatedly said its “levelling up programme” is about addressing regional inequalities in the UK economy. 

Wales’ social justice minister said: “We are doing all we can, with the powers we have, to deliver for the most vulnerable. Over the past few months, we have been working with partner organisations, the third sector and community leaders to develop a series of targeted packages to help the most vulnerable in our society deal with this cost-of-living crisis.” 

Finance minister Evans said: “We will continue to put pressure on the UK Government to use the significant levers they have to support the most vulnerable through the difficult times ahead." 

The Welsh Government’s announcement signifies that the cost of living crisis will remain high on the political agenda.

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