Mark Drakeford not ruling out tax rises in next Senedd term

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The Welsh Government has some taxation powers, including over income tax

The first minister has not ruled out tax rises during the next Senedd term if Welsh Labour is in power.

Mark Drakeford said he would focus on jobs rather than increasing taxes in the early period after the 2021 Senedd election.

But he told ITV Wales that beyond that period “everybody is entitled to make their decisions based on the facts at the time”.

The Welsh Government gained powers to vary income tax rates in April 2019.

Ministers have stuck to Welsh Labour’s 2016 manifesto commitment not to change the tax rates during the five year term.

Counsel General Jeremy Miles told Welsh Labour’s spring conference in April 2019 that the party should campaign “unashamedly” to use its income tax varying powers in the next assembly elections.

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Taxes are expected to be a more prominent issue in next May’s election than in the past

Speaking on ITV Wales’ Sharp End programme, Welsh Labour Leader and First Minister Mark Drakeford set out his stall: “I don’t think increasing taxes in a recession is good economic policy and my anticipation would be that the Labour party will not be proposing that here in Wales.

“In a buoyant economy there are a different set of arguments but at a time when there isn’t money in people’s pockets, taking money out of those pockets does not make good economic sense.

“We will go in to the [2021 Senedd] election at a very difficult time for the economy and the focus of the Labour manifesto will be on jobs here in Wales.

“Securing jobs that people already have and bringing new jobs for people who would have lost them during the recession. That will be our focus.”

“Tax rises, I do not think will be part of our prescription in that period. Beyond that, I think everybody is entitled to make their decisions based on the facts at the time,” he added.

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In a recent blog on the Gwydir website, Welsh Conservative finance spokesman Nick Ramsay said: “With the challenges of Covid far from over, and the economic damage yet unknown, it is far too early to make detailed tax and spend commitments for a Welsh Conservative Government.”

“Our long term aim will be to reduce income tax when it is prudent to do so,” he added.

Plaid Cymru told BBC Wales in July it was considering which taxes to raise to pay for some of the policies in their 2021 election manifesto.

The party is proposing the introduction of free childcare and a weekly £35 support payment for children, as well as a national health and care service.

Party leader Adam Price said: “It’s important that we’re open and honest with the people of Wales.”

Brexit Party leader Mark Reckless said: “Since Wales never had the promised referendum on these [tax raising] powers, I look forward to Mark Drakeford sending them back to Westminster.”

BBC News