National Left - Wales needs a progressive left future.
Thursday, 10 October 2013
Assembly agrees on how to spend its pocket money.
While Plaid and the Liberal Democrats congratulate themselves on uniting to secure their own policy snippets as result of the Welsh Labour governments budget we must ask ourselves . Is robbing peter to pay Paul because Paul provides the headlines popular with the electorate and looks god on election leaflets and at debates the right answer.
The Labour government in Wales has announced an unprecedented deal with two opposition parties to ensure it wins approval for its budget.
Labour, which does not hold a majority at the Welsh assembly, is promising to spend £100m on priorities close to the heart of the Liberal Democrats and the nationalist party Plaid Cymru. It is pledging to set aside money to make sure more people in need can access health and social care within the community – a key Plaid issue.
It is also promising to boost grants to schoolchildren from deprived backgrounds, which the Lib Dems have long campaigned on.
The deal was announced before the publication of the draft 2014-15 budget on Tuesday afternoon. The budget is expected to combine commitments to protect the NHS and invest in new infrastructure projects with potentially severe cuts to local authorities.
In recent years Labour, which has half of the assembly seats, has made deals with one opposition party to get its budget through. This time the Lib Dems and Plaid teamed up to strengthen their bargaining position.
All this proves a major problem with the Assembly budget . Not that Labour do not have a majority but the government can't raise its own money and must be reliant on the "Pocket Money" via the Barnett formula.
This means that the two spending departments Health and Education (Health takes over 40% of the budget) and who constantly need more investment to the extent that it could be political suicide to consider cutting their budgets will always be the big winners to the and that .money has to be diverted from equally important though less viable areas.
Plaid and the LibDems were right to combine together rather than enter a separate bidding war with Labour.
But as long as we go on like this Health and Education will carry on getting increased investment and cuts will have to carry out elsewhere year in year out.
And Political expediency will mean that Health and Education win or in this age of curs do not loose so heavily.
We need a sensible debate on the Welsh Budget and how it is raised the "Pocket Money" system can't go on as it is.