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Cuts and constraints

Betsan Powys | 11:27 UK time, Monday, 5 October 2009

Off to Manchester this week to but first, there's some pain to endure this end - a great deal of pain in fact.

It's the kind of pain you know is coming but can do nothing about. It's the kind of pain that I always knew to expect when the dentist suggested putting on the Richard Clayderman CD when I walked into his room. I used to take my pain muzak-free.

It's the kind of pain that hits the pocket and comes at the end of months of dire warnings that there is less money in the public spending pot than ever before. It's the kind that gets local government leaders preparing to pen press releases in anger and resorting to cut and paste ... 'at the coal-face' ... 'front line services must be protected' ... because they're convinced that as deliverers of our services, they will always bear the brunt of cuts.

It's the kind of pain you feel when you're a Finance Minister in a National Assembly and you're seeing an ever decreasing pot of money coming at you. You know that your budget is largely fixed and anyway you've already nicked a bit of extra cash from this year's budget to spend last year and you've dipped into your reserves ... and now it's pay-back time.

Bear in mind that all Andrew Davies can reveal later is how he intends to divvy up the money the government has to play with. How much he and the Assembly Government have to play with was decided some time ago. He's debated the spending choices ahead with his cabinet colleagues for months. There is £416million pounds to be found in efficiency savings - £200m of it already taken from the pot to be spent early in order to inject some cash into the Welsh economy asap and another £216m that is a straightforward cut.

Will he ring-fence some departmental budgets? Can he afford to protect the health and education budgets or will he simply ask everyone to take a hit? Will he look at the £216m and divide it up between the long row of begging bowls in front of him? The health budget is projected to be some £6billion - just over in fact. If you're talking about serious constraints on spending, will he insist that they share the pain of efficiency savings? His language so far seems to suggest he expects everyone to feel the squeeze.

Up in Manchester the race to prove you're really, really good at this constraint business goes on.

The Conservatives are talking about a "big and bold shake-up" of incapacity benefits. In other words the cuts they're promising are real cuts but they're cuts for a purpose. Gordon Brown has finally brought himself to talk spending "cuts" and Nick Clegg has tried to trump both with this "savage cuts".

Le'ts listen closely to Andrew Davies' language this afternoon. Will he be tempted to join in this every-so-slightly macho competition to prove he's not afraid of cuts? Or will he simply accept that the really big cut has been made for him by the Chancelllor and adopt the language of partnership and co-operation to ease the pain we all know is coming?


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  • 1. At 1:37pm on 05 Oct 2009, thegnatswatter wrote:

    As usual it will be the local government budget that will be cut and the
    subsequent deficit found from an increase in poll tax? Nothing new? We will pay. As for the Tory cuts their thinking is if the sick,poor and vulnerable can breathe they can work,licking envelopes,polishing shoes or working in a sweat shop.They are after all the progressive Tory Party.

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  • 2. At 1:58pm on 05 Oct 2009, West-Wales wrote:

    There is no avoiding draconian cuts, the money simply isn't there to sustain current spending.

    Today the important question will be answered;

    Is the 2010 budget to support Wales.


    Will the budget again divert spending from essential services, to protect spending on idealistic non productive schemes.

    One things for sure - the AM's in the Senedd this afternoon will have to watch the news tonight to find out - they'll be to busy on the Internet to listen.

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  • 3. At 2:20pm on 05 Oct 2009, grumpy-white-rabbit wrote:

    What are these "inessential services"? Why is government supporting anything other than "essential services"?

    Is someone on "incapacity benefit", who is not "incapacitated", entitled to that benefit? If someone takes a benefit they are not entitled to, is this theft?

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  • 4. At 2:42pm on 05 Oct 2009, Cardiffian2008 wrote:

    "What are these "inessential services"? Why is government supporting anything other than "essential services"?

    Well grumpy-white-rabbit, the '[every]ONE[in]WALES[must speak welsh] AGREEMENT' goverment have gotten themselves a well deserved reputation for wasting money on non-essential services/projects usually related to nation building, language and culture. I don't think we need to go through these again here... they're pretty well documented and, unfortunately for the nationalists, becoming common knowledge with the electorate.

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  • 5. At 3:10pm on 05 Oct 2009, lordBeddGelert wrote:

    But who was it that spent all the money ? It was Labour..

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  • 6. At 3:34pm on 05 Oct 2009, grumpy-white-rabbit wrote:

    Would the sky fall on our heads if expenditure on nation building, language, and culture stopped?

    Have I stepped into a cultural quagmire, why is government putting its sticky fingers into my preferences, does it disapprove of my liking of the "Hallé orchestra", does this government want to run my life as a puppeteer, should I report to Cardiff Bay to have strings attached?

    These politicians have must have heard exaggerated claims of their importance, or are they delusional? Are they the "Big Spenders" of Butetown I wonder?

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  • 7. At 4:24pm on 05 Oct 2009, John Henry wrote:

    Labour leadership contender Carwyn Jones has attacked Plaid Cymru by saying.....

    ....... nationalist coalition partners' vision of independence was unaffordable and would isolate Wales ..... the hammer blow was ......

    "Like other members of Welsh Labour, I'm proud to be Welsh, but also proud to be British,"

    ..... hat tip on this to "Valleys Mam", nothing else would have got me out of bed today. Labour in Wales is reaffirming that the people of Wales are more important than the Plaid coalition, and the Liberal Democrats with the Conservative Party are in agreement.

    Interesting times ahead, for Plaid in regression.

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  • 8. At 4:37pm on 05 Oct 2009, FiDafydd wrote:

    I see that the one-track nature of some bloggers want to lead us down exactly the same unimaginative discussion again.

    Scrap Trident and slash military spending (the bloated, subsidised killing machine) and we would have billions of pounds to help the economy; and the millionaire tories in the cabinet wouldn't have to hurt the less well off - as much as they, cynically, would like to.

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  • 9. At 4:52pm on 05 Oct 2009, Igotitallwrongsorry wrote:

    Grumpy... Your first paragraph sums it all up as for the vast majority of welsh people the welsh language/national building consensus down Bay/BBC Wales/S4C et al leaves us cold,however it is absolutely fundamental to the One Wales government. The worry is that the Conservatives down Bay of Irrelevance have gone native and insterad of concentrating of absolutely fundamental services they have joined the Nationalist circles and are afraid to be called anti welsh by clique in BBC Wales etc etc. We need independant correspondents like Jeff Randall of SKY/Telegraph to explain where this money has gone and is going onto non important programmes. Why are we spending all this money out of general taxation on welsh medium education when virtually the whole world carries out business/commerce through the medium of english. If people wish their children to be educated through welsh then good,however there should be no hidden subsidies/benefits from general taxpayers. Lets abolish the Assembly and return powers to people/local government and slash the numbers of welsh political correspondents employed by BBC Wales and spend on programmes instead. If Bristol/Northampton etc can manage without mickey mouse Assembly then so can we!!!

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  • 10. At 5:54pm on 05 Oct 2009, thegnatswatter wrote:

    8.'the bloated subsidised killing machine' A modern day Owain Glyndwr is it? If we didn't have Plaid and their inane demands we would have
    millions more to spend here in Wales.

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  • 11. At 6:40pm on 05 Oct 2009, grumpy-white-rabbit wrote:

    FiDafydd, since when did the Welsh Assembly have missiles to scrap, or armed forces that could have funding slashed.

    It must be time for a reality check, Labour and Plaid spent £200 million during the last year from next years budget, a smart move I don't think!

    Such "good" coalition housekeeping (Labour and Plaid) will cause certain problems in the Education and Health budgets, where else could we cut a sufficient amount, and when the services shrink we must remember to remind people that the villains were the Plaid/Labour coalition. It would probably be best if the next Labour leader was not in government when the overspends were planned.

    FiDafydd. To suggest that any servant of the people would wish to hurt in a cynical way those less well off sounds like libel to me, comment number 8 moderators, I'm surprised you missed it, I sent an email on the subject to the Chairman of the Conservative Party Eric Pickles with the recommendation you be traced and sent a large tub of chocolate drink to ease the pain of political rejection.

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  • 12. At 7:57pm on 05 Oct 2009, MH at Syniadau wrote:

    [#7] I wouldn't have batted an eyelid if Carwyn Jones had said, "Like other members of Welsh Labour, I'm ... " But what he ACTUALLY said was:

    "Like EVERYBODY ELSE in the Labour Party, I'm proud to be Welsh but also proud to be British."

    So, to save me repeating myself (and I'm sure you wouldn't want to miss the piechart and table, which I couldn't reproduce in this comment) what I said in response is here.

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  • 13. At 8:17pm on 05 Oct 2009, grumpy-white-rabbit wrote:

    Carwyn Jones was speaking of the 5th nation, the glue that holds so much together, the reason we defend each other, the reason we cheer for each other, the reason we help each other; except the others who would prefer something intangible, they call it freedom, freedom from what is the mystery.

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  • 14. At 8:47pm on 05 Oct 2009, thegnatswatter wrote:

    Betsan.Why did Carwyn Jones have preferential treatment tonight? Why didn't the BBC give Huw Lewis a three minute spot in his constituency? Why was Huw Lewis shown with a loud hailer? Very Negative.Perhaps the trustees should intervene before we have a selective campaign based on editorial prejudice.

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  • 15. At 9:13pm on 05 Oct 2009, lordBeddGelert wrote:

    To coin a phrase...

    "The s--t sandwich has arrived. First bite anyone ?"

    Of course up until now the loss of jobs has been ignored by the WAGs as they can disclaim all blame. But when they start having to hand out the P45s in the public sector and for the quangocrats one guesses that they will be able to hear the squealing 'up close and personal' in a way which is just not possible when it is private sector jobs far from Cardiff Bay which are affected...

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  • 16. At 9:18pm on 05 Oct 2009, lordBeddGelert wrote:

    "If Bristol/Northampton etc can manage without mickey mouse Assembly then so can we!!!"

    Igotitallwrong - trust be, if it was a competition between WAG and Bristol City Council for who could spend most money to least effect, then WAG would be a mere Championship team compared to the Premier League efforts of BCC.

    There is a day of reckoning when the Tories get in which I worry may even be overkill for the problems Labour have created. Whatever happened to 'Prudence with a purpose' ??

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  • 17. At 10:41pm on 05 Oct 2009, Betsan wrote:

    Why was Carwyn Jones on Wales Today? Because this evening he launched his campaign. On Friday Huw Lewis will launch his and on that day, the story of his campaign launch will be on Wales Today, as will Edwina Hart when her turn comes. Not complicated, not preferential, not prejudiced - just pretty straightforward really.

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  • 18. At 11:01pm on 05 Oct 2009, FiDafydd wrote:

    Re 17

    Very good! But you can't deny that these people's paranoia is a great form of entertainment.

    I wonder if the gnat will apologise to Betsan...

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  • 19. At 06:39am on 06 Oct 2009, John Henry wrote:

    To use the expression "..... these people .....", displays an arrogance only found in the pages of history, those pages that the landowning elite would discuss the labouring Welsh.

    Betsan, could you explain the disparity of moderation, where FiDafydd was able to use provocation at comment #8 where he wrote .....

    "8. ..... and the millionaire tories in the cabinet wouldn't have to hurt the less well off - as much as they, cynically, would like to."

    ..... implying a sadistic tendency.

    Moderation is not being applied evenly in this blog, and it is not paranoia, it comes across as a disgusting abuse ..... if it were not so, the above would have been struck out without asking.

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  • 20. At 09:46am on 06 Oct 2009, thegnatswatter wrote:

    Betsan, I do apologise to you but still think that the welsh media are
    promoting the welsh view (Agent Provocateurs like FiFi included) instead of what Labour Party members,Cllrs,MP's and AM'S outside Cardiff feel. In the media's presentation so far they have portrayed Hugh in the negative by saying he only appeals to gnat haters like me but in my role within the community I know that there is a huge groundswell of opinion
    in favour of a return to the Labour values pre coalition.Surprisingly it is the old age and pensioners within the party that complain most about the nationalist agenda as they see their needs put on the back burner for language issues that don't affect them,they are daunted by bi-lingual forms,they love the Queen and all she stands for and want to remain British having fought to have that right and they as parents and grandparents want to see child poverty defeated.They do see Hugh as a socialist who has consistantly championed those causes yet the media fails to reflect that and although they as members will have a vote on the leadership their view will not be registered because they don't text
    or use the internet.
    This is my experience in beautiful Carmarthenshire a County wrongly
    referred to by the Cardiff based media as welsh speaking heart lands and a nationalist stronghold a county where we have returned a Labour MP
    for the last 50Yrs except for a small blip when the moronic hordes from the north descended on the county town and with the help of 400 students
    from Trinity college caught us off guard.

    18 This one is for Fi Dafydd and his ilk what the pensioners find most threatening and intimidating is to have a brainwashed kid on their doorstep ramming nationalist ideology down their throats during election time. So off to school laddy and learn some manners.

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  • 21. At 12:42pm on 06 Oct 2009, FiDafydd wrote:

    Re 19

    I'm sorry, Stonemason, but some of us remember only too well how Thatcher used unfettered monetarism as an economic tool - it was harsh, cruel and completely without compassion.

    Any mock expressions of anger because I do not trust the Tories doesn't wash. And I will never accept that best people to govern Wales are a group of Old Etonians and Bullingdon Club hooligans. Recent reports suggest that DC has a personal fortune of £30 million. Boy, just the man to understand the problems of ordinary Welsh men and women...

    I not, by the way, that you still haven't condemned mapexx for his abusive language.

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  • 22. At 11:42am on 13 Oct 2009, mapex55 wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

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