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It takes ... three.

Betsan Powys | 11:01 UK time, Thursday, 7 October 2010

That the three devolved administrations believe the impending cuts in public spending run the risk of delivering economic and social harm shouldn't be news to you.

That the leaders of the three devolved administrations have signed a joint declaration saying so, very bluntly, is, as one senior source in Cardiff Bay put it, "massive".

First Ministers of Wales and Scotland Carwyn Jones and Alex Salmond, their Deputies Ieuan Wyn Jones and Nicola Sturgeon have signed the declaration, along with Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness, the First and Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland - all urging David Cameron and the UK Government to reconsider their plans ahead of the Comprehensive Spending Review on October 20th.

The CSR is expected to cut tens of billions from public spending across the UK to deal with Britain's huge budget deficit. It is, said David Cameron yesterday very clearly, the right thing to do. It is the only responsible way to deal with "Labour's legacy."

Now here comes a direct challenge to his government's plans for dealing with the deficit - the devolved leaders joining forces to say the current proposals for cuts "could have a significant and lasting negative impact on the economy, including people's jobs".

They say, "We believe that promoting economic growth is the best way to restore the health of our public finances and this must be our overriding priority.

"Only when there is clear evidence that the recovery is well established, and can be sustained, should significant fiscal tightening be implemented.

"Frontloading the cuts into the next two years is entirely the wrong approach for the economy and the vital public services upon which so many people depend. We therefore urge that the spending cuts are scaled back and phased in over a longer time period.

"Failure to do so runs the risk of doing lasting damage to the economy and the fabric of our public services.

"This does not preclude the setting out of a clear plan for consolidation which promotes confidence and guarantees financial sustainability but simply that the focus at this stage must be on securing the recovery."

In other words: even it out a bit; spread the pain and don't risk tipping us all into recession.

In other words: We think you're getting it wrong. Our governments think you're getting it wrong. We think your plans will harm our economies and we're standing together to tell you so.

In other words: Ok, so we don't really expect you to jump to it and rejig the figures between now and October 20th. But when we have to start swinging the axe we'll remind voters in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland of today's headlines. We'll remind them and say blame them - not us.


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