PHILIP Hammond, the chancellor of the exchequer, used his budget speech on Monday, October 29, to announce billions of pounds of spending, signalling what he called “an end to austerity”.

Included in the budget was £550 million of funding to the Welsh government.

The chancellor and opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn exchanged barbs over the reasons for, and effectiveness of, the Conservatives’ austerity policy.

In his speech, the chancellor said that the UK’s deficit was projected to fall from 1.4 per cent next year to 0.8 per cent by 2024.

In health, he announced the government’s five-year, £80 million NHS deal would involve mental health investment including a crisis service at A&E departments.

Other budget funding included money for the military (£1 billion), schools (a £400-million one-off payment), air ambulances (£10 million), policing (£160 million for counter-terrorism), and roads (£420 million to tackle potholes and bridge repairs), although some of these funds would only be available in England.

A digital services tax would regulate tech giants, Mr Hammond said, and stamp duty would be abolished for first-time buyers of homes worth up to £500,000.

A further £1 billion would be made available to help the transition to the universal credit benefits system.

Mr Hammond said the budget was “for hard-working families”.

In response, Mr Corbyn decried a “budget of half measures and quick fixes”.

Monmouth MP David Davies (Conservative) said: "The budget is going to give hundreds of millions of extra pounds to Wales over the next few years, and also deliver the Welsh government the opportunity to copy some of the good work in England, particularly to lower business rates.

"I hope now, with funding, [the Welsh government] can do this."

Monmouth AM Nick Ramsay (Conservative) said: “This has been a good budget for Wales which will add an extra £551 million to the Welsh government’s budget, with more money for the NHS and schools as well as funding to reduce business rates for small businesses.

“The UK government has also permitted extra borrowing powers to help fund a solution to the M4 bottleneck at the Brynglas tunnels.

“We now look to the Welsh government to make the most of this funding and pass it on to those areas which badly need it.”

Newport East MP Jessica Morden (Labour) said: “The budget is hugely disappointing for Wales with very little on investment in infrastructure, and there was nothing to help our steel industry – particularly on key issues like energy prices.

“6.3 million people earn under the real living wage – up another 300,000 in the last year – and when the richest tenth of households are the biggest winners out of the budget, the prime minister’s claim that austerity is over will ring extremely hollow.”