In the latest instalment of Labour’s on-going expectation’s management effort to level with the public about what it can and can’t achieve in such a difficult financial environment, Carwyn Jones who, as first minister of Wales remains the leader of the only Labour government in the country, has warned of further cuts to come to unprotected budgets.
In the latest instalment of Labour’s on-going expectation’s management effort to level with the public, Carwyn Jones who, as first minister of Wales remains the leader of the only Labour government in the country, has warned of further cuts to come to unprotected budgets.
Speaking ahead of the spending review on the 26 June, the first minister explained that whilst he would prioritise spending on health, schools, protection of universal benefits, jobs and the economy, all other areas of spending will not be ring-fenced under current plans.
Explaining that cabinet ministers have been meeting on a fortnightly basis to discuss where spending cuts could be made if the Welsh budget is squeezed still further by Whitehall, he explained at his monthly press conference yesterday:
“It’s in these areas we believe the people of Wales will want to see protection in the years ahead.
“The remainder of what we do can be regarded as unprotected. That means that all other budgets are being scrutinised in detail, line by line. It means that there will be some extremely difficult financial decisions to be made in the near future on what programmes and projects and polices we can no longer afford to fund.”
Noting that if spending by the UK was to be maintained, the Welsh budget would be 20 per cent lower by the end of the decade compared to the beginning, the first minister had some clear and sharp words for the chancellor, declaring:
“Our clear message today is ‘enough is enough.
“Further cuts to our budget will have devastating consequences for Wales.
“It wasn’t the people of Wales who caused the situation we now face, but we are being asked to carry an unacceptable burden.
“To us as a government, that is unacceptable.
“I call today on the UK Government to think very carefully about the decisions they intend to make in two week’s time and the very real impact these will have on the people of Wales and so many people across the rest of the UK.”
The first minister’s comment comes after Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont used a speech in September to question the financial viability of some long-term universal benefits.
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