Tough choices: Devolved, and deferred
Scotland and Wales produced their new budget plans on Wednesday, less than a month after Chancellor Osborne told them how much money he had to give them between now and 2014-15.
Particularly in Scotland, politicians in the devolved nations have tended to say they have the worst of the cuts. The Treasury insists that they have only had their fair share. The answer is that they are both right.
Overall, the chancellor in the spending review decided that departmental spending across the UK was going to be cut by 11% in real terms by 2014-15. Another way to think about that is that it is just a bit better than a cash freeze. The real cut in the block grant for Wales and Scotland is also 11%, with the cut for Northern Ireland only slightly lower: 10%.
As we know, the Westminster government made a decision not to distribute the pain equally. Far from it. The NHS in England and overseas development will get real increases - albeit very small ones in the case of the NHS. That means unprotected departments are looking at a cut of 19%. The schools budget and defence are doing much better than that, meaning really eye-watering cuts for, among other things, higher education and housing.
The Welsh and Scottish governments also had to decide how to distribute that 11%. But arguably, they had less room for manoeuvre than Mr Osborne, because there have fewer places to distribute it. In that sense, things are a little harder for them. Health and education between them account for around two-thirds of spending by the Scottish government. They account for an even larger share of the Welsh budget. .
You can see the difference this makes in the cuts in capital spending which the Treasury pencilled in for Scotland and Wales at the time of the Spending Review. Across the UK, there will be an average 29% real cut in capital spending by departments by 2014-15 - but the cut for Scotland and Wales is close to 40%. The Scottish government tried to lessen that cut slightly today, but it did not have room to do much.
In this draft budget, Wales is going it alone in suggesting that everyone - and every department - should take their fair share of pain. If passed by the Assembly, the budget would cut health spending by nearly 8% in real terms, with similar cuts for education and local government.
If devolution is supposed to be about nations having the freedom to go their own way, this may be the most striking example yet. It will be interesting to see if they manage to hold the line, if and when the difference in health spending between Wales the rest of the UK starts to become obvious to voters.
The Scottish government played it differently - displaying, in many ways, similar priorities to the chancellor in Westminster. As in England, health is being protected, while universities, prisons and housing are being hit. There is also the obligatory public sector pay freeze and talk of sweeping efficiency savings.
However, George Osborne did at least bother to come up with spending totals through to 2014-15. Today's Scottish budget only covers 2010-11. It's easy to see why the other years have been left blank: there is the small matter of a Scottish election in May. But it does mean that a lot of the tough decisions have been kicked down the road.