The autumn statement: what's in it for Wales

Well, here we go again. It's traditional on days like these for the UK government to stress how much Wales is getting from the autumn statement, and for the Welsh government to stress how little.

There is never much competition for the "glass half full" and "glass half empty" roles on these occasions. George Osborne told MPs: "The Barnett formula means that over the next two years, the budgets for Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales will see a net increase." In Wales's case, that adds up to £100m extra over two years on a budget of more than £14bn.

Both sides tend to pick the largest figure they can, so the Welsh government response is to argue that its budget has been cut by a cumulative total of £1.7bn between 2010/11 and 2015/16 (its graph is below) - so over six years rather than the Treasury's preferred two-year time frame.

Image copyright Welsh government

It means ministers in Cardiff Bay have around 0.36% more to spend during the next two years; a better deal than most Whitehall departments but bigger budgets do not always mean better public services. According to a graph the Welsh government has sent me, its budget this year is - more or less - the same as it was in real terms in 2006/7.

You may remember how Gordon Brown's 2006 budget was welcomed by Labour ministers in Cardiff and hailed by the then Labour Welsh Secretary Peter Hain as enabling the Welsh assembly government (as it was then known) to "build itself into a formidable powerhouse of business activity and innovation".

Seven years on, Welsh Secretary David Jones has offered his own advice to the Welsh government on how they should spend the cash. He'd like them to follow England in applying business rate relief to the smallest shops and cafes to try to revive the high street. He - and the Liberal Democrats - would like to see the Welsh government introduce free school meals for pupils up to seven (as in England): presumably, once their free school breakfast has been digested.

That's the obvious Welsh angle out of the way, but the autumn statement affects almost everyone in Wales - even the 1.75m vehicles (who knew we had more vehicles than taxpayers?) affected by the end of the old tax disc system. The UK government has tried to re-assure DVLA staff in Swansea that jobs won't be lost as a result.

And what about pensions? If you're younger than me (I'm, ahem, 50) then you'll have to work until at least the age of 68 before you qualify for your state pension. If you're just leaving school, you'll probably have to work until you're 70 as the UK government wants to link the pension age to rising life expectancy.

Except, there are big differences in life expectancy between different parts of the UK. In Wales, men in Blaenau Gwent have a life expectancy of less than 76 years; in Monmouthshire nearby, it's 80 years.

Plaid Cymru say it's "utterly unfair" that people in areas of low life expectancy have to work longer for a pension they may only enjoy for a few years. David Jones says it's right to take account of rising life expectancy across the UK which is far higher now than the 59 years it was in Lloyd George's day.

See you at the post office (if they still exist) sometime in the 2030s.