THE Welsh Government is looking at ways to cut costs after Mark Drakeford revealed a budget shortfall of £900 million.

Ministers have been asked to look at ways of cutting spending after the First Minister said in a statement that this was the toughest financial situation the government had faced since devolution.

Mr Drakeford said: "The Cabinet met on 1 August to discuss the significant financial pressures we are facing in the 2023-24 budget, and to continue preparations for the 2024-25 budget round.

"When we made our budget for 2023-24, we drew on all our available resources to protect frontline services and provide targeted cost-of-living support to individuals and the economy.

"But even after doing all that, our financial position after the UK Spring Budget in March, was up to £900m lower in real terms than when that budget was set by the UK Government at the time of the last spending review in 2021.

"This is the toughest financial situation we have faced since devolution.

"We are in this position because of the record levels of inflation we have experienced post-pandemic; because of the mis-management of the economy and public finances by successive UK governments over the last 13 years and because of unfunded commitments made by the UK Government, particularly in relation to public sector pay.

"The Cabinet will be working over the summer to mitigate these budgetary pressures based on our principles, which include protecting frontline public services, as far as possible, and targeting support towards those at greatest need.

"A further update will be provided to the Senedd once this work has been completed."

In response to the announcement, Welsh Conservative Leader, Andrew RT Davies MS said: “Only back in March the Labour Government, and their co-operation agreement partners in Plaid Cymru, sent back £150m to the UK treasury that they failed to spend. Now they’re saying they don’t have enough money, you couldn’t make it up.

“Labour continue to make their own problems worse by pushing their extreme ideology and vanity projects, such as costly default 20mph speed limits, and sending more politicians to Cardiff Bay. This money should be spent on our vital public services.”

Welsh Conservative Shadow Finance Minister, Peter Fox MS added: “As part of the budget preparations, Welsh Conservatives put forward a clear plan to make sure the Labour Government focuses on the people's priorities; sorting the Welsh NHS waiting lists, ending the housing crisis and giving our young people the best start in life.

“Mark Drakeford's call is too little, too late. In 2019, the independent auditor general said that despite the Labour Government having £1.20 for every £1 spent on the NHS and education on England, only £1.05 actually reaches the front line here. This is all whilst Labour continues to be the only Government in the UK to have ever cut an NHS budget on two separate occasions. All available funding must be spent on these essential areas, not top sliced for pet projects.”