‘Smoke & mir­rors’: Par­ties clash over Welsh bud­get plan

DOCUMENT SPELLS OUT GOVERNMENT PROPOSALS IN SIX KEY AREAS

Caernarfon Herald - - NEWS - Martin Ship­ton

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

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