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PRE-BUDGET REPORT: CHANCELLOR'S STATEMENT SIGNALS BOOST FOR WELSH ECONOMY

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Local government, business and less well-off people in Wales will be the biggest beneficiaries in a package of fund...
Local government, business and less well-off people in Wales will be the biggest beneficiaries in a package of funding announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his pre-budget report.

An additional £22m in the Welsh Block grant in 2004-5 and a further £5m in 2005-6, in part driven by an increase in the English local government settlement, has been warmly welcomed by finance and local government minister Sue Essex.

Sue Essex said: 'We will now give urgent consideration to the allocation of the extra £22m for 2004-5 recognising the needs of local government in Wales.

'I am also very pleased with measures announced by the chancellor to improve productivity. The new capital allowance for renovating empty business premises is likely to have the most significant impact in the more deprived areas of Wales while the new Research and Development Tax credits may benefit more than 600 Welsh businesses.

'One of the key themes of the budget is to support less well-off groups such as those on low incomes, poorer families and pensioners. More than 60,000 people in Wales will benefit from the increase in the Minimum Wage to £4.50 while the increase in state pension will support the drive to create a fairer society.

'The increase in Child Tax Credit and the exemption from National Insurance for employer supported childcare will support the progress the Welsh Assembly government is making in achieving its strategic objective of helping more people into work - Wales already has a higher proportion of women in work than the rest of the UK.'

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