Tough times ahead as Wales feels the pinch

Details of the draft budget, unveiled this week at the Welsh Assembly.

Labour’s Finance Minister in the Welsh Assembly, Andrew Davies, this week published possibly the toughest draft budget in the ten years since devolution. Just a few weeks ago, Left Foot Forward reported a warning from the outgoing First Minister, Rhodri Morgan, that set against financial difficulties, spending may need to fall to balance the books.

Against such a background, the draft budget for 2010-11 includes measures to:

Reduce by 0.6 per cent spending by departments responsible for education and the economy.

Increase revenue for the Department for the Environment, Sustainability and Housing by 3.9 per cent and Health and Social Services by 1.1 per cent in real terms.

Revenue for Public Services and Performance will fall by 2.5 per cent when inflation is taken into account and central services and administrations will, after inflation, see a fall in revenue of 1.2 per cent.

It is also thought that capital spending is likely capital spending could see cuts of between 10 and 20 per cent.

Presenting the draft budget, Mr Davies said:

“I have said consistently that in future years we cannot expect to see the significant increases in public expenditure of the last decade. We will continue to make the tough choices necessary, and we will continue the Team Wales approach across the public sector to ensure that we get maximum value for the Welsh pound.”

However, the budget proposals were widely condemned by his opponents.

Nick Bourne, leader of the Welsh Conservatives, described it as a “poor budget, caused by “Labour’s inability to manage finances, both at Westminster and in the assembly”.

Kirsty Williams, leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats added:

“The argument for keeping public spending high during a recession is to stimulate economic activity – this budget ignores that logic and slashes the very funding that will create the skill base, infrastructure and environment in which business can flourish.”

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