‘Smoke & mirrors’: Parties clash over Welsh budget plan
DOCUMENT SPELLS OUT GOVERNMENT PROPOSALS IN SIX KEY AREAS
THE release of further details of next year’s Welsh Government Budget has prompted a major clash between Labour and the Conservative opposition.
While the Government claimed the Budget would provide as much protection as possible against continuing austerity from Westminster, Welsh Tories accused Labour Ministers of delivering a “smoke and mirrors” Budget breakdown that fails to deliver for the people of Wales.
The Budget document said: “Our long-term aim is to build a Wales which is prosperous and secure; healthy and active; ambitious and learning; and united and connected.
“Prosperity for All [the Welsh Government’s economic action plan] identifies five priority areas, to which a sixth has been added, which we believe will make the biggest contribution to long-term prosperity and wellbeing. These reflect the times in people’s lives when they may be most in need of support and when the right sort of help or intervention can have a dramatic effect on their life course, and the need to maintain a healthy and sustainable environment in which these lives are lived.
“These are areas where evidence suggests early intervention and integrated services can have a significant impact.
“The six areas are early years; ars; housing; g; social care; ; better mental health; skills and employability; and decarboni--sation.
“Ou r detailed proposals are e set against our long term aims for Wales and our six priority areas.” On health, the Budget document said: “The NHS in Wales, which celebrated its 70th anniversary this year, will continue to be this Government’s priority. “Core NHS funding, with a total investment of £6.866bn in 2019-20, represents the largest single budget.” But the Tories’ Shadow Finance Secretary Nick Ramsay argued that the Welsh Government’s continual changes to Budget lines meant there was no opportunity to consistently scrutinise spending year on year. The Welsh Government published a breakdown of its budget following weeks of Welsh Gov- ernment turmoil over the already announced local government cuts. Mr Ramsay, the AM for Monmouth, said: “Despite their narrative of more investment in vital public services it is clear that once again the Welsh Labour Government has laid a budget that fails to put their empty rhetoric into meaningful action. It’s a budget of broken promises.
“The Budget inflicts real terms cuts on social care, mental health, housing, and economic development, despite the pleas of all these sectors which stress their importance to the people of Wales.”
Mr Ramsay also claimed there was a lack of transparency in the Budget’s presentation: “The Welsh Government’s continual changes to the Budget lines mean that there is no opportunity to consistently scrutinise their spending year on year, making this a Budget of smoke and mirrors, designed to keep the public in the dark.”
● Health is a Budget priority