Autumn delayed at Westminster, Christmas early in Wales
- 4 December 2012
- From the section Wales politics
Perhaps it's climate change, but politics seems to be playing havoc with the weather.
Tomorrow, on December 5, Chancellor George Osborne unveils his autumn statement to MPs. One day later, members of the National Assembly for Wales rise for their Christmas recess. Christmas really has come early in Cardiff Bay.
What can we expect from the chancellor's statement? George Osborne told the cabinet this morning that most Whitehall departments would face deeper cuts in their day-to-day spending budgets during the next two years to generate extra spending on schools and other capital projects.
Mr Osborne has decided to protect the health and schools budget in England, which limits the impact of any cuts on Wales.
Details of the autumn statement have not been leaked as extensively as the budget last March, although in this age of austerity these events tend to follow a pattern.
There is a crackdown on tax avoidance, whether by individuals or companies, an admission by the chancellor that his plan to cut the deficit will take longer than expected, and the release of some extra cash for job-creating capital projects.
Last year, Mr Osborne announced extra spending on 35 road and rail schemes. He told MPs: "Devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will get their Barnett [formula] share - and we're working with them to improve the links between our nations, such as the M4 in South Wales and the overnight rail service to north of the border."
Let me know if you think the M4 has improved since then; I suspect it's still a work in progress. Mr Osborne did announce an extra £216m for the Welsh government over three years although that is a fraction of its £15bn annual budget.
This year, the row over the amount of tax paid by some multi-national companies has risen up the political agenda.
The chancellor is also expected to target the rich as part of his drive to show "we're all in it together" but are there enough rich people out there?
Last month's Silk commission report revealed (page 164, table D3) the size of the tax base in Wales, a country with 1.341m income taxpayers (less than half the population) in 2010/11. Just 4,000 people paid the current 50 per cent top rate of tax on annual taxable incomes of more than £150,000.
A further 89,000 paid the higher rate of 40 per cent, on taxable income that year of £37,401.
Between them, those 93,000 - seven per cent of taxpayers - contributed one third of the income tax raised in Wales.
Swansea City's success since then may have increased the numbers paying the (soon-to-be-reduced) top rate but any raid on the wealthy won't raise significant amounts in Wales (unless the Swans sign David Beckham).
Mr Osborne has been looking at reducing the tax breaks on pensions for the richest (it used to be Lib Dem policy) and at freezing or limiting future increases in benefits (definitely not Lib Dem policy).
We'll find out what he plans tomorrow but what would be in your autumn statement? Let me know.