Spending Review, George Osborne and Wales

 

The small print has yet to arrive, but here's the first take on George Osborne's spending round and what it means for Wales.

The chancellor said the Welsh government "resource budget" will be cut in real terms by two per cent to £13.6bn in the financial year beginning April 2015. (Treasury figures suggest it's a freeze at £13.6bn, a 1.8 per cent cut in real terms). The capital budget will rise slightly from £1.4bn to £1.5bn, a real terms increase of 0.3 per cent.

Two per cent is below the average for Whitehall departments. This is because Mr Osborne has decided - as expected - to protect health and school spending in England. The NHS takes up a large chunk of Welsh government spending.

Fans of the M4 relief road project will have to wait a little longer to find out how it will be financed. Treasury Chief Secretary Danny Alexander said yesterday the scheme was tied up with the Silk commission's proposals to give Wales tax varying and borrowing powers. The UK government had promised to deliver its response by the end of spring but has missed its own deadline.

This is what Mr Osborne told MPs: "The Welsh resource budget will be £13.6bn and we will shortly publish our response to the Silk commission on further devolution of taxation and borrowing.

"When we do so we will be able to say more about the impressive plans to improve the M4 in South Wales that my hon friend from the Vale of Glamorgan and others have been campaigning for."

It's the third time the Treasury has "announced" the M4 relief road. Before long, we may find out who's going to pay for it - and how.

In other news, the Wales office - the office of the secretary of state for Wales - will have its running costs cut by 10 per cent.

I'll have more reaction later. Expect the Welsh government to dispute the figures. Political geeks and accountants should get their anoraks out for the traditional dispute about baselines and spending plans.

UPDATE: Ministers say there will be no cut in S4C's government funding, despite widespread fears that it would have to rely on the licence fee. It will be frozen at current levels. Welsh Secretary David Jones said: "Today's announcement further reinforces this Government's commitment to a strong and independent Welsh language TV service.

"S4C has, undeniably, made an enormous contribution towards the creative industries in Wales, and crucially, to promoting the Welsh language. Indeed, it is the only Welsh language channel in the world.

"The Chancellor has recognised the importance the people of Wales place upon S4C, and has secured its funding for 2015/16.

"I am confident that the future is bright for S4C, and that it has the stability and certainty that it needs to continue to go from strength to strength."

Culture Secretary Maria Miller said: "The fact that we have been able to ensure that S4C will receive no reductions to its Government funding is a very good result.

"S4C makes a tremendous contribution to the cultural and economic life of Wales and we are pleased to be able, even in tough economic times, to continue to support minority language broadcasting in Wales."

"Maintaining the current funding level will provide the channel with the certainty it needs to continue investing in, and producing, high-quality Welsh language programmes."

 
David Cornock, Parliamentary correspondent, Wales Article written by David Cornock David Cornock Parliamentary correspondent, Wales

Their Lordships do the lockstep

The House of Lords has been debating plans to give the Welsh government responsibility for raising some of the money it spends.

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  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 3.

    No.1 is quite right. Independence now! Who needs all those Westminster subsidies, Stop the money tomorrow and lets have a whip round and pay it ourselves. And by the way George, You can keep the M4 relief road who needs it? Lets all stay stuck at the tunnels. If everyone in Wales takes out a pay day loan we are sorted. Oh hang on, no one earns more than tuppence. Mab, any ideas?

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 7.

    Was it not IWJ - then Plaid Cymru leader and Welsh Minister for transport ('We slow Wales down') who announced the building of the M4 relief road many years ago - only to 'un'announce it some time later after his latest study changed the costing from £350m to £1bn? However, we do now have message signs costing many £10'000's displaying Welsh language only messages to enhance driver safety.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 12.

    Yes thats what is wrong with Wales, those damn foreigners don't give us as much cash as we want. Lets face it we do such a good job with what we have. Our education system is in decline. Our health system is in disarray and our social system is just not delivering both in social and inferstructure. Our politicans are a joke and don't deliver on anything. Its not our fault it's those damn others

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 30.

    But sadly no ambition to solve the big problems in Health, Education, Transport or the economy. Now there is no money and their thinking has changed to managing budgets and holding on to the status quo. Again no ambition to do anything, and no incentive to do otherwise (finanically or politically - they'll get the same money and Labour will win 25+ seat without trying)

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 31.

    Mabion Glyndwr,
    I agree (see #15) but also the Government needs ambition and a plan. The closes we came to that was under One Wales, where the coalition agreed a programme of Government and it worked well (relatively) IMO.

 

Comments 5 of 40

 

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