Wales

Spending Review: Wales' politicians respond to review

National Assembly Senedd
Image caption Wales' political parties have reacted to the spending cuts announced by the UK government

Wales' politicians have reacted to the spending cuts announced by the UK government.

Welsh Conservative leader Nick Bourne said the cuts were not as deep as the assembly government's forecasts.

Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams also said the settlement was "better news for Wales than many were predicting".

However, Welsh Labour leader Carwyn Jones said the cuts were a "hammer blow for Wales", while Plaid Cymru leader Ieuan Wyn Jones said the announcement was a "devastating blow to the Welsh economy".

Mr Bourne said the chancellor George Osborne's spending review had provided a "far better settlement than the assembly government's own forecasts".

He added: "While any reduction in WAG's [Welsh Assembly Government] budget would be challenging, it is clear that the assembly government had been preparing for a bigger reduction than the one announced today.

"The business minister had been planning for reductions of £500m year on year until 2014/15.

"Instead, the assembly government will have to find savings of £500m over the next four years in total."

Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan said it was a "fair funding settlement for Wales".

"The Welsh Assembly Government is facing smaller cuts than most UK government departments but, like everywhere else, tough decisions will have to be faced in Cardiff Bay," she said.

Shadow Secretary of State for Wales, Peter Hain, said the cuts were a "reckless gamble" that would leave 60,000 people in Wales facing job losses.

'Worst settlement'

"Nothing can disguise the savage cuts inflicted on Wales, on top of the hits in the last few days from closing the Passport Office, cutting the St Athan Defence Training College and abandoning the Severn Barrage," he added.

"Attacks on benefit levels and eligibility will be introduced under the radar - a vindictive and pernicious attack on Wales' most vulnerable communities."

Welsh Labour leader and First Minister Carwyn Jones said Wales had received the "worst settlement of any of the devolved nations".

He said: "The cuts we face over the next five years will be very challenging. Also, when it comes to capital investment in Wales' infrastructure, we will face massive reductions.

"This will have serious implications on how we continue to improve our schools and hospitals in the future."

Plaid leader Ieuan Wyn Jones said: "Plaid has consistently argued that the Conservative-Lib Dem cuts were too soon and too deep.

"It is especially concerning the way the Conservative government have attacked welfare payments, targeting sickness and housing benefits in particular.

"There is little doubt that Welsh jobs, Welsh businesses and the Welsh people will feel the pain of these mistakes."

'Crocodile tears'

The party's Westminster leader Elfyn Llwyd MP said the coalition government had cut "too deeply, too soon".

He added: "Wales has had less growth in public services expenditure during the good times, now we must face the same pain as others during the bad times.

"The countries and regions in which there will be public sector cuts are not the countries and regions which will benefit from private sector growth.

"We cannot yet see the effects of the changes in the welfare budget and in other non-devolved areas, such as policing and justice, but that will come out in the next few days, and may well be equally damaging to the communities of Wales."

Welsh Lib Dem leader Kirsty Williams said the decisions being taken were difficult but were also necessary.

"The UK government has to take action to cut the deficit because of the appalling legacy of debt that the last Labour government burdened us all with," she said.

"Today, we will see crocodile tears from a Labour party that is in denial about the mess they created and the measures needed to get us out of that mess."

Peter Black AM, Welsh Liberal Democrat finance spokesperson, said: "The Labour-Plaid [assembly] government has indicated that it was planning real terms cuts of 5.8% a year.

"In fact the coalition's settlement for Wales is substantially better than real term cuts of less than 2% a year.

"The Welsh Assembly Government will do proportionately better than the rest of the UK as a whole."

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