By Lucy Phillips
18 November 2010
The Welsh Assembly Government published its draft budget for the next three
years yesterday, with all departments set to experience a real-terms reduction.
Overall public funding for Wales will fall by £860m next year and by £1.8bn by
2014/15, with only investment in schools, skills, social services and health
protected from some cash decreases.
Revenue spending on health and social services is to be cut by 6.3% in real
terms over the next three years. Cash funding will be frozen for two years, and
increased slightly in 2013/14.
Spending on children, education and skills will drop by 5.9% in real-terms over
the budget period, local government and social justice by 7.1% and
sustainability and housing by 9.6%.
The reductions come on top of an almost 40% cut to capital spending (or £667m)
across Wales by 2014/15 announced in last month’s UK-wide Comprehensive
Laying down the draft budget on November 17, the Welsh Business and Budget
Minister Jane Hutt said the WAG was ‘on record as stating our opposition to the
speed and depth of cuts imposed by the UK government at this crucial phase of
recovery from recession’. But ‘having been dealt this hand’ and despite the
difficult choices that had to be made they were ‘determined to do what it
takes’, she said.
John Davies, the leader of the Welsh Local Government Association, said the
outcome for councils in the current climate was ‘as good as it gets’.
But the Welsh Conservatives condemned the real-terms reductions to health.
Shadow finance minister Nick Ramsay said it was ‘unacceptable’.
The document also contains a commitment to universal benefits, with funding for
free bus passes for elderly people, free prescriptions and free breakfasts and
milk for primary school children set to rise by 3.7% by 2013/14.
The draft budget will now be scrutinised by the Welsh Assembly before being
laid before the National Assembly for Wales in February next year.