Through a Welsh lens: IWA General Elections Explained

Wales is heading to the polls on the 4th July to elect 32 members that will represent communities across the nation in Westminster Parliament.

Candidates standing for election are seeking to sit in the UK Parliament, working on policy areas which are reserved to the UK Government. This means they have the power to decide on issues affecting everyday life in Wales, including:

  • Defence
  • Immigration
  • Justice
  • Policing
  • The constitution
  • Foreign policy
  • and (most) taxation, benefits and pensions.

Beyond that, decisions based on devolved matters, those that Welsh Government control, will still have direct implications for the future of Wales’ budget through Barnett Consequentials (the mechanism through which additional spending in UK Government budgets in devolved areas feeds into the Welsh Block Grant, which represents most of Welsh Government’s budget). Whilst parties have suggested a commitment to continue to stick to existing budget forecasts, their policies on areas where the UK Government acts as an English Government, could thus still have implications.

Beyond that, the UK Government still hosts a number of powers and controls which set the context for not only Welsh Government, but also for Local Government across Wales. As such, the direction of travel that a UK Government seeks to put forward will have considerable implications for policies that affect Wales. For example, Wales’ journey to net zero is highly dependent on the pathways put forward by UK Government. Likewise, policies which set the direction on the economy at a UK level, will have a huge hand in setting the economic outlook for Wales over the years ahead, not least in the control of post-EU funding arrangements. UK Government, therefore, sets much of the conditions for government in Wales to operate within.

This election is the first to take place under new constituency boundaries, after a pan-UK exercise to equalise the number of voters per seat. Wales is significantly impacted by the changes, with the number of MPs representing Welsh constituencies falling from 40 to 32. This will lead to a loss of Welsh voice in Westminster. This will also mean that many are voting in constituencies which will look a little differently.

At the IWA, our vision is to help create a Wales where everyone can flourish, summarised in our mission to inspire Wales’ ambition. This means engaging in communicating, scrutinising and advocating for policy, at UK and Welsh Government levels, that can lead to better economic and democratic outcomes for the people of Wales. 

That’s why we are going to be releasing a number of election explainers over the course of this General Election campaign, seeking to inform people in Wales about what the election means for them. In doing so, we will highlight key policy areas in the campaign, taking a Welsh perspective to the debate.

We will also be laying out some of the ideas that the IWA has put forward over recent years to tackle major challenges we are facing in Wales, which we believe a UK Government should take forward. It is vital that any future UK Government takes an active interest in Wales, and provides clarity on the role of Wales in their vision for the UK.

During this period, we will also put a set of key challenges facing Wales to the parties, bringing you their answers as they come in – so keep an eye on our website over the next four weeks.

Read our explainers here:

Wales and the UK: settling the settlement

The UK Economy and Wales: different levers, shared fates?


Robust debate and agenda-setting research.
Support Wales’ leading independent think tank.