Monday, November 05, 2007

Coalition Arithmatic

Steve Thomas, Chief Executive of the Welsh Local Government Association does have a tendency to occasionally slip into jargon - but today he was talking straight. The subject under discussion was today's announcement by the Assembly Coalition Government's draft spending plans for the next three years (I hesitate to call it a budget because it includes only the spending side of the equation).

I had to take note of things because Radio Cymru were down to me to speak on behalf of the Conservatives on Post Prynhawn. The structure of the piece was interesting. Rhodri Morgan to set out the Government's position - as expected. But then it was over to Alun Ffed Jones for what seemed like a response - which took the biggest chunk of the remaining time. For all the world as if he was representing the 'opposition'. Has the news that Plaid Cymru are now in Government reached the Bangor studio yet? Or that the Conservatives are now the official opposition in Cardiff Bay. Still, I suppose I was only on the programme to ensure it could be claimed there was political balance.

Interesting headline figures though. We have been told that the overall Treasury block grant has increased by just 1.8%. Yet today we are told that Health spending will go up 4.2%, Education up 4.0% and Local Government up by 2.2%. Must be a bit of smoke and a few mirrors around Cardiff Bay ! About the only solid information we can glean out of this is that local government spending is receiving half the increase of other main public services. So Steve Thomas toured the studios to tell us straight that Council Tax is going to go up, and Council services are going to be subject to '1000 cuts' - especially in North and Rural wales. You have been warned. But just remember that the Government is a Labour/Plaid Coalition.

And did you manage to keep a straight face when Finance Minister, Andrew Davies said he was going to light "A bonfire of inefficiencies"? Did you manage not to fall about laughing when he talked about saving £600 million over the three years. It really is the way he tells them. He could earn a living writing scripts for Max Boyce.


Miss Wagstaff said...

The headline, "Andrew Davies' first ‘One Wales’ budget, ‘A bigger bang for the Welsh buck" made me wee a little. According to Alun Cairns' blog, he's on the case.

Anonymous said...

Good to have you onto these numbers Glyn! They must think we're completely stupid.

BTW I don't seem to be able to sign up for RSS feeds - the link goes nowhere. Can you post a link for an xml feed pls?


Glyn Davies said...

Miss Wagstaff - The dynamics between Alun and the Minister should be a delight to watch. My money is on Cairnsey to rattle him a few times.

anon - Haven't got a clue what you're talking about. No idea what these 'feeds' are. Will ask one of our issue first chance I get.

Activist said...

Given the financial allocation is a given that WAG cannot influence Glyn, what exactly would the Tories do differently? What would you cut to give a more generous settlement to Local Government? I think the sniping at the Labour Plaid budget smacks of the luxury of short memories and long term opposition. I don't seem to remember Tory governments being well known for their generous funding of public services - although it is such a long time ago it is becoming hard to recall.......

Glyn Davies said...

activist - Owch! Not possible to answer that one. When I was Tory Finance Spokesman, I couldn't answer it - because it was not possible then either. All an opposition can do is repond to a budget in general terms.

But your general point is a fair one - and if I was a bit closer to the action, I would respond to it. All I can do in respond from a personal and somewhat historical perspective - and say that I would never have abolished prescription charges, I would never have introduced free breakfasts, I would not be spending money on free laptops, or grants for house purchase etc. etc.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, 'twas me who was confused over RSS feeds - it works fine now, thanks. (So you don't need to find out what they are)

Cheers, keep up the good work