Autumn Statement: Wales hopes for economic boost

Factory bosses and workers alike say they are feeling the pinch

Families, businesses and individuals in Wales are mulling over Chancellor George Osborne's autumn statement outlining what steps he will take to try to encourage growth.

With Wales lagging at the bottom of the UK league in terms of the value of goods and services we produce, any signs of growth were looked for.

But in his update to the House of Commons on the state of the nation's finances, Mr Osborne announced that the UK economy was now forecast to shrink by a worse than expected 0.1% this year.

He pledged that deficit reduction measures would be achieved "fairly" with further savings from bureaucracy, from benefit bills and the better-off.

Sometimes commentators talk about the public and private sector as if they are completely different worlds but I've been to a private company that works largely for the public sector - in particular in education and health.

I've been hearing the views of employees at Tillery Valley Foods in Cwmtillery.

There, 350 workers make as many as one million meals a week for hospitals and schools among others.

It's a great example of changes in public spending affecting the private sector.

At the pumps

This company has invested to ride out the recession and economic downturn.

For instance, it invested £100,000 in a new boiler but that will cuts its fuel bills by £50,000 a year and its spent £650,000 buying more fuel efficient lorries.

So the chancellor's announcement that he has increased ten fold, from £25,000 to £250,000 the allowance for new machinery firms can claim against tax, will be welcomed across the manufacturing sector.

Tillery Valley Foods spends £1m a year on diesel just to transport its meals to customers.

In fact, a one pence increase at the pumps costs Tillery Valley Foods £9,000, half the cost of taking on another employee.

A planned 3p rise in fuel duty was scrapped by Mr Osborne.

While much of the autumn statement was about the economy, individuals will be affected in different ways.

Maria Creed is a team leader Tillery Valley Foods.

She is married with two children, one still living at home. Her husband is employed too and they run two cars to get them to work.

With prices of food and petrol rising more than wage levels, she says there's no spare cash for the niceties this year.

'Quite hard'

She told me that the family was feeling the effects of the economic crisis.

"In lots of ways, with increase of food, you've got bills, a lot of things really, clothes, all of it goes up."

And she said their income has gone down in real terms.

"Yes, because as your children get older as well, you help them with everything that you can. It is, its quite hard."

And running two cars is an extra drain on their resources.

"Because he needs his vehicle for work and I obviously need mine to get here. Petrol going up is a big thing, it hits a lot of people," she said.

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