Cuts all round for Welsh departments

17 Nov 10
The Welsh Assembly Government published its draft budget for the next three years this week, with all departments set to experience a real-terms reduction.

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 Spending Review.  

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.

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