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Call for urgent talks with new Chief Secretary to the Treasury – joint letter from the devolved administrations

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Finance Minister, Conor Murphy has joined Finance Ministers from Scotland and Wales in pressing the UK Government to hold urgent talks ahead of the Budget on 11 March.

In a letter to the new Chief Secretary to the Treasury Stephen Barclay, Minister Murphy, Scottish Public Finance Minister Kate Forbes and Welsh Finance Minister Rebecca Evans call for a joint meeting to discuss the impact of the UK Budget on devolved governments and clarify plans for the forthcoming UK Comprehensive Spending Review.

The full text of the letter reads:

Following your appointment as Chief Secretary it is urgent we come together as soon as possible to discuss matters of mutual interest particularly now the Executive has been restored in Northern Ireland. There were constructive discussions with your predecessor and we hope that we can build on these to make progress on a number of important issues where positive action is now needed. We would therefore welcome a commitment from you to a Finance Ministers’ Quadrilateral ahead of the UK Budget on 11 March.

An early meeting could cover likely implications for the devolved administrations of the UK Budget. This would be especially welcome given challenges created by the delay in the UK Budget and the late consequential changes to our 2019-20 budgets at Supplementary Estimates. We would also value clarity in relation to your plans for the forthcoming UK Comprehensive Spending Review, in particular its likely timing and engagement with the devolved governments.

It will be important to discuss the challenges for public spending as a result of leaving the European Union and how we can work together to ensure as smooth a transition as possible to a UK funding framework which delivers for all parts of the United Kingdom and respects devolution. A key test of this will be to complete our joint work to review and improve the Statement of Funding Policy, which is integral to our ability to plan and manage budgets, and to formalise the Finance Ministers’ Quadrilateral as a regular forum to resolve fiscal issues that impact on all parts of the UK.

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