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Adding up

Betsan Powys | 13:12 UK time, Wednesday, 9 December 2009

So where has Alistair Darling's Pre-Budget Report (already re-named the Pre-Election report by George Osborne) left Wales?

These are the numbers:

The block grant goes up next year by £500m to £15.7 billion. "Goes up" since last year, yes but let's be clear here, it's not really "additional" as the Wales Office press release has it ... at least not in the sense that it's extra money coming our way because of the Chancellor's statement. It was coming anyway. It was already part of the Assembly Government's spending plans voted on yesterday.

The truly "additional" money coming to the Welsh budget as a result of today's statement comes in so-called Barnett consequentials, the knock-on effect of how much money is spent on areas like schools and the health budget in England. The maths means Wales gets an extra £13m. You'll have worked out already that in these belt tightening days, that's not a lot.

This is the line from the Wales Office:

"Despite a clamour from certain quarters for widespread public spending cuts ..." - get it? Labour have to make "tough choices" but the Conservatives are 'clamouring' for cuts - "Wales will receive an additional £500 million funding next year ... The Chancellor's Pre Budget Report (PBR) will lock in economic recovery and build for growth in Wales, while protecting frontline public services and rebalancing public finances in a fair way".

And here, for good measures, are some more figures for you, covering 2008 but published today by the Office of National Statistics. They concentrate on GVA, the measure of contribution made by individuals and companies to the economy.

Again, how does Wales fare? We're still bottom of the class - the worst performing part of the UK. The value of goods and services per head of population in Wales was 25.7% below the UK average - the lowest it's been in Wales since 1999.

The same figure for London was 69.5% above the average. Scotland was 2.1% below the UK average. Northern Ireland was 21.1% below the average.

Our bottom-of-the-class mates at times like this, the north east of England, is 22.6% below the UK average.

Now then: hands up who fancies the Finance portfolio?

Comments

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  • 1. At 2:30pm on 09 Dec 2009, John Henry wrote:


    ...the measure of contribution made by individuals and companies to the economy.

    If we are at the bottom of the pile, is it because we are lazy, or incompetent, or .....

    The list goes on, rather than making simple negative statements, why not ask what might be done in our impoverished region to improve matters.

    How about educating our children properly, why not encourage people dependent on low paid government employment to become economically proactive in the market place, why not ask Jones & Jones the Assembly legal team to create opportunities rather than imposing impossible public sector dreams on the public at large.

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  • 2. At 2:33pm on 09 Dec 2009, John Henry wrote:


    ... I missed the following off #1

    Having listened to the Alistair Darling Pre-Budget Report, it reads ....

    ... put off until tomorow what should be done today.

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  • 3. At 2:56pm on 09 Dec 2009, Dewi_H wrote:

    "The list goes on, rather than making simple negative statements, why not ask what might be done in our impoverished region to improve matters."

    Sure - get a proper Parliament with strategic fiscal control not hampered by a legislative process almost designed to obstruct.

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  • 4. At 3:12pm on 09 Dec 2009, John Henry wrote:


    Why not just buy a new suit, sorry Dewi .... the far left rhetoric of Plaid is thin in the extreme; we are able see many good opportunities that marks the difference between the Nationalist sideshow and the plural economics of the real world.

    Can you believe that the 95% of the electorate who oppose Plaid's odd economics (fable economics or tales of the faraway tree) would trust Plaid to run the economy, not in your wildest dreams. The public understand that Plaid has a vision that replaces good government with agenda, you cannot fool all the people all the time ....

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  • 5. At 3:32pm on 09 Dec 2009, Dewi_H wrote:

    "The public understand that Plaid has a vision that replaces good government with agenda, you cannot fool all the people all the time ...."

    I'm not talking about a party's programme here Stoney - just an appropriate mechanism of government to deliver an economic plan. Our current system is so disjointed that I cannot see how strategic coherence of economic management is feasible.


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  • 6. At 3:35pm on 09 Dec 2009, Cilmyn wrote:

    4. Stonemason said:
    ".........you cannot fool all the people all the time ...."

    Which is why of course we have not had a tory regime in power for decades in the UK, and never in this country.

    Dewi H has the rights of things here, so....

    ........... 'give us the tools....

    ..............................and we shall finish the job"

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  • 7. At 3:43pm on 09 Dec 2009, John Henry wrote:


    Dewi, it might be time to create an effective framework of government with checks and balances that democracy needs, with these satisfied there would be far less opposition to devolution, and don't say it's the fault of Westminster, there has been ten wasted years, wasted by all, or has it been lazy.

    Still not on the side of sensible at #6, When the last Conservative government was in government, the whole of the United Kingdom was included, even your desperate neck of the woods, there is no fear or favour from Westminster governance, reading your far left tripe it is little wonder Wales has not moved on these last ten years.

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  • 8. At 3:58pm on 09 Dec 2009, Cilmyn wrote:

    Interesting little rant from 7, you pronounce:
    "When the last Conservative government was in government, the whole of the United Kingdom was included....." yes quite, I'll give you that - we were all included in the brown stuff for twenty years! Let the Cameron cowboys back in and we'll be there again for the next twenty.

    By the way, what do you mean when you say this :"...even your desperate neck of the woods" - ?

    Are you referring to Wales here? If you are then you should apologise. If not then what do you mean (if anything other that a snide aside again.....)

    Just shows when push comes to shove John Bull and his bully boys are not very far from the surface are they? ........ "the veil did has slip, we saw the night beckon......."

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  • 9. At 4:01pm on 09 Dec 2009, Dewi_H wrote:

    "Dewi, it might be time to create an effective framework of government with checks and balances that democracy needs, with these satisfied there would be far less opposition to devolution, and don't say it's the fault of Westminster, there has been ten wasted years, wasted by all, or has it been lazy."

    Stoney - Westminster passed the 2006 Government of Wales Act - Westminster created this governance system. That's a fact.

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  • 10. At 4:05pm on 09 Dec 2009, Igotitallwrongsorry wrote:

    Its hard to believe that when Gordon Brown entered the Treasury and was show the books/accounts left by John Major's government he was told how "rosy" the picture was with no PSBR.He responded in his normal social and polite manner by stating " Do you want me to send them a F-------g letter of thanks". That was followed by two years of Prudence who was very "skittish" about her purse and markets loved our GB,who was the Chancellor of all time. There followed a loosening of expenditure on public services that the Prime Minister knew would be "wasted"without reforms,however he was blocked by great clunking fist. The income to GB was mainly based on expansion of City of London and those awful Bankers who even up to two years ago our Gordon absolutely "loved" because they were delivering the "golden eggs" that he could invest. What a joke. The "markets" seem according to Jeff Randall of SKY awaiting firm evidence of major cuts in public expenditure after 2011 and as he stated after Chancellors speach we are sheduled to borrow about £500 Billion,which is even more relatively than we spent to beat Germans/Italian/Japs in 1940's.The question is where has all the money gone,other than to favoured projects and still we rank bottom in more leagues of performances in public sector,including the overmighty BBC.

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  • 11. At 4:26pm on 09 Dec 2009, John Henry wrote:


    Dewi_H you wrote at #9

    Westminster passed the 2006 Government of Wales Act - Westminster created this governance system. That's a fact.

    It is a fact, it's also a fact that, as an example, the current coalition is active changing the legislation to suit their agenda .....

    ..... it didn't suit any of them to look at creating a real devolution with checks and balances. I wonder why, lazy or was it is didn't fit with the other plans. Sorry Dewi, all the parties are at fault, they ignored democracy, were they ignoring the public at the same time, I believe so.

    There is still time before ........

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  • 12. At 4:38pm on 09 Dec 2009, Dewi_H wrote:

    "It is a fact, it's also a fact that, as an example, the current coalition is active changing the legislation to suit their agenda ....."

    Yes - but, for instance, it takes years to get a simple measure to suspend the sale of council houses in place (no need to debate that particular issue it's just a ridiculous process. coherent economic strategies require many levers, education, infrastructure etc etc. This process is just not set up to facilitate.

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  • 13. At 4:39pm on 09 Dec 2009, Cilmyn wrote:

    11: Did you mean Wales when you spat ":"...even your desperate neck of the woods" - ?

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  • 14. At 5:36pm on 09 Dec 2009, John Henry wrote:


    In part, in principle I agree Dewi when you write ...

    .... coherent economic strategies require many levers, education, infrastructure etc etc. This process is just not set up to facilitate.

    I ask you, how will you convince me that the Assembly should have more, connected levers, when I know there are few checks and balances that democracy needs outwith Westminster; there has been no call from any Assembly Members for more local robust constitutional oversight. I am very happy with Westminster providing legislative oversight, I recently asked a question that was ignored that is relevant to this thread "what has changed, until recently the WAG were quite satisfied with Westminster".



    Cilmyn for your education .....

    You wrote ... Did you mean Wales when you spat ":"...even your desperate neck of the woods" - ?

    Spitting is not an skill I have, neither am I inclined to it.

    ...neck of the woods.

    A neighbourhood or region, as in He's one of the wealthiest men in our neck of the woods. Originally (mid-1800s) alluding to a forest settlement, this colloquial term is now used more loosely, for urban as well as rural locales.

    In the context of Betsan's blog, it is neighbourhood; when referring to Wales I prefer to be very specific.

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  • 15. At 6:47pm on 09 Dec 2009, alhjones wrote:

    Just watched the piece with Hain on news where he repeated block grant quote, given your writing earlier why did you not correct him on it?

    More what the tories would do but nothing on what labour who are in government should do. I despair of the calibre of debate in this country, when positive action is required, to ensure that Wales does improve its lot, moving from the post industrial era to providing a living for what will be 2 lost generations, Grandfathers and grandsons. employees of the social state.

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  • 16. At 6:51pm on 09 Dec 2009, Neocromwellian wrote:


    #1 Stonemason said... "why not ask what might be done in our impoverished region to improve matters."

    A good question even though I disagree that we need to make cuts now as it may stall the recovery, I accept there are political connotations to that statement but that is what debate should be about.

    I suggest irrespective of peoples politics greater openness and public accountability for the way in which a our money is spent is in my view a positive public interest statement.

    To quote the Member for Cardiff West one Rhodri Morgan MP on the Freedom of Information Act from http://www.theyworkforyou.com

    Are not the disappearance of the substantial harm test, the new override powers of the tribunal over the Committee's decisions and the almost unilateral nature of the public interest test, which is now in Ministers' hands, bound to lead to the suspicion that all the Sir Humphrey's have drawn the covered wagons of Whitehall into a circle, to deny us information that, had we followed the White Paper principles, would have been put in the public domain if someone had requested it?

    So why during his reign did Rhodri use the Sir Humphrey's to draw a circle of wagons around the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales HEFCW to prevent the release of the report into the finances of the University of Wales Lampeter and the reasons for its collapse by the consultants Haines Watts?

    HEFCW is hiding behind the public interest test to prevent us know the facts of what went wrong.

    With higher education being cut in England we can assume the same is going to happen in Wales. Its our money that is being wasted and us serfs have every right to know what went wrong and why has nobody been held to account?

    We need a copy of the Haines Watts report and people must held to account report so that lessons can be learned. It seems their reward for the failure of a university is even greater than that of bankers as they have been allowed to get away with it.

    This is a concrete example that needs to be applied throughout all public services as I am sure there are other examples of financial waste. We do not need more powers to the assembly to resolve this situation just more power to the people to hold the assembly to account.

    I hope this suggestion goes some way to answering your question.

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  • 17. At 7:06pm on 09 Dec 2009, geoff drake wrote:

    Todays blog I believe finaly gets to the crunch question about the purpose ot the Welsh Assembly.
    The Report of the Office of National Stastics has highlighted Wales position compared to the rest of the United Kingdom and basicaly confirms that we are now performing worse that all the rest of the UK in the key indicators.
    This is the information I want to hear the Assembly addressing not all the waffle about procedure and LCO or referendums.To me this is taking the eye off the ball, a cricism I have of both Betsan and the Welsh media as well as the politicians. Perhaps it is easier to discuss the process than face real problems but what I want to know in considering the Assemblies future is what are they going to do to give my daughter the same education outcomes as a child in England, is my son going to have the same job opportunities here in Wales or will he have to join the exodus to London and will I have the same waiting time for Hospital tratment as my sister in England.
    Is anybody going to answer these questions or do we have to continue listening to meaningless debates about who is going to pass more legislation about the Welsh Language. Like the Bankers perhaps its time for everone to get real

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  • 18. At 7:39pm on 09 Dec 2009, thegnatswatter wrote:

    15. So what's your party going to do about except carp.

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  • 19. At 8:24pm on 09 Dec 2009, thegnatswatter wrote:

    18.Should read... Whats your party going to about it other than carp.

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  • 20. At 8:30pm on 09 Dec 2009, John Henry wrote:


    geoff drake asked four simple questions ....

    1. what are they going to do to give my daughter the same education outcomes as a child in England
    2. is my son going to have the same job opportunities here in Wales
    3. or will he have to join the exodus to London
    4. will I have the same waiting time for Hospital treatment as my sister in England.

    ... the answers are probably: nothing, no, yes, no.

    Mr Drake might like to know why, the answer rests with the political agenda at Cardiff Bay I'm afraid, too busy manufacturing nationhood to be overly concerned with such mundane matters as the public's well being; and each and every political party in the Assembly is equally at fault. If there was an opera based upon the antics of the last few years it would be entitled "The Lords of Misrule".

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  • 21. At 10:22pm on 09 Dec 2009, dan wrote:

    Stoney,

    There probably should be a second chamber with the power to scrutinise and bring balance to the proceedings however that is not the job of the WAG, it is the job of the architects of this devolution settlement, i.e. the Westminster Government. I'm quite sure that as it stands the WAG lacks the powers and the money to set up a second chamber.

    Further more, the catastrophe that is the GOW Act 2006 is a form of balance and checking, but as it was designed by monkeys with no intelligence of constructive and well designed there is no scope for it...

    Take it up with Westminster and get off the WAG's back

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  • 22. At 10:22pm on 09 Dec 2009, geoff drake wrote:

    I note with interest thegnatswaters response to my post where he asks what my party would do. Interesting because I was carefull not to indicate any party preference specificaly attacking all Welsh politicians for "fiddling while Rome burns"
    It appears thegnatswater believes that if you are not for us you are against us and apparently feels criticism more keenly than Peter Haine who earlier tonight ducked the ONS statistics completely.It seems that playing politics is more important than people at Westminster as well as Cardiff Bay

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  • 23. At 10:53pm on 09 Dec 2009, John Henry wrote:

    dan, dan the Plaid man ...

    ... so out of touch with reality.

    If WAG doesn't take steps to add checks and balances, to the Assembly legislative process, you must accept Westminster as the superior body to oversee the creation of legislation. I have no problem with the current situation, much preferring it to putting trust in Plaid, partners in legislative poverty.

    I hardly think your demand to "get off the WAG's back" has much mileage in our democracy, your demand has all the hallmarks of a playground bully, insignificant in the extreme.

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  • 24. At 09:17am on 10 Dec 2009, thegnatswatter wrote:

    These Plaidi's always blames Westminster for our woes.Why? Because
    they have no influence there or in fact outside Wales. It was an affrontary to the majority to have Elwyn Llwyd make fatuous statements about the PBR as if he had authority to speak for us all when he actually just represents one small north wales constituency

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  • 25. At 09:32am on 10 Dec 2009, Igotitallwrongsorry wrote:

    17. Hello geoff and excellent post.Some of us on here have been trying to say exactly the same for years,however the NATS and fellow travellers in welsh media have sought to "capture" the agenda with this non-stop drivel about the welsh language/culture and more powers. As stonemason put it ALL the politicians down the Bay have bought into this "nation building" nonsense as without the support of BBC CYMRU their cushy positions would be in doubt. The welsh "elite" got what they wanted with devolution 10 years ago with the overwhelming support of previously mentioned media,however have been whingeing about more powers for the same time. They are quite frankly "not interested" in pushing for the huge changes needed in provision of services to achieve excellence,rather than flat earth fairness,which means everybody gets rubbish. I'm sorry to inform you that unless your children speak welsh they will not get jobs at any level in the CYMRU obsessed public sector,and the private sector is leaving anyway.

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  • 26. At 09:56am on 10 Dec 2009, Cilmyn wrote:


    #14 - Thanks for the unwanted (and obligatory) quote from some dictionary or other regarding the meaning and derivation of the term 'neck of the woods' - you seem to imply that you are referring to my 'neighbourhood' - so are you having a pop at north Wales then? Is that what you mean by " your desperate neck of the woods"? Why is that then?

    You also state in 23 that you are happy with the LCO system at the moment - regardless of how undemocratic that is and express an opinion that Westminster will provide these - regardless of how undemocratic it is to have an unelected Secretary of State for Wales holding a veto at the end of that bureaucratic and labyrinthine route.

    The reason? That its better than the powers being in the hands of elected representatives here in Wales - for ideological reasons nothing more, nothing better. It seems Stoneyboy that you are all for democracy as long as it supports your far right agenda.

    Dan has the right of things at 21 when he mentions a second chamber........

    As good old Winne said : "Give us the tools........


    Mind you I now realise that you were not joking at #7 when you said "there is no fear or favour from Westminster governance"

    - although not even 'gullible' nor "naive" come close to expressing what that belief is.

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  • 27. At 10:44pm on 10 Dec 2009, thegnatswatter wrote:

    Geoff I never criticised you or your party(whichever party that might be) I flagged 15 from alhjones and I actually agree with your post although I think it's a bit unfair to blame Westminster for the shortcommings of a weak One Wales (Lab/Plaid) budget.
    This weak administration and an even weaker Education Minister have failed to address a situation where the minority get new everything and the majority very little it is in essence a two tier education system
    which contravenes the UN charter for the rights of the child a charter that supposedly forms the pillars of WAG's education policy.Have a read of it and see if your children are disadvantaged, whether they have the same facilities as others and whether their rights and aspirations are being compromised.

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  • 28. At 12:23pm on 12 Dec 2009, FoDafydd wrote:

    Re 27

    More paranoia and innuendo and not a single fact.

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