Sunday, 23 August 2015

Has Osborne treated devolved counterparts with contempt?

The finance ministers of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have united to warn that UK Government spending cuts are moving “too fast and too far”.

In a letter to Chief Secretary to the Treasury Greg Hands, In a joint letter, the SNP’s John Swinney,  "Welsh " Labour’s Jane Hutt and Arlene Foster of the DUP, also complained about the “unsatisfactory” way the Treasury had treated the three devolved administrations over recent budget changes.and  call for an urgent meeting in advance of the Government’s forthcoming spending review.

The letter said: 

“The three devolved administrations share the view that the UK Government’s ongoing austerity plans, reflected in both the in-year spending reductions announced on June 4 and in the Summer Budget, continue to reduce public spending in the UK too fast and too far, and present unnecessary risks to our public services.

“We also share the view that the UK Government’s plans were developed and communicated in an unsatisfactory way, with neither advance notice nor apparent consideration of the implications for the devolved administrations.”
“The planned announcement date of November 25 leaves very little time for setting our own budgets before the beginning of 2016-17, presenting us with significant operational challenges and potentially constraining the time available for respective parliamentary and assembly processes,” the letter states.
“There will in addition be considerable difficulties for our delivery bodies and stakeholders who will have little notice of their future allocations.”
 Pointing out there has not been a meeting of Treasury ministers and devolved finance ministers since November 2013, the trio "propose an early quadrilateral meeting as soon as possible following the summer recess, to discuss current issues

John Swinney said 
 “The UK Government’s broken austerity programme is reducing household income, damaging economic confidence and weakening public finances. That represents a clear threat to our public services.
“The recent Budget was misguided and deeply unfair, with disproportionate cuts falling on the poorest and most vulnerable sections of society while giving tax breaks to the better-off.
“The planned announcement of the UK Spending Review in late November leaves little time for setting our own budgets before 2016-17, presenting significant operational challenges and potentially constraining the time available for Parliamentary process.
“We therefore need early engagement to help us understand, as fully and as early as possible, the shape of likely funding settlements from the Spending Review.
“The Scottish Government will continue to argue against the failed austerity programme and speak up for the policies to promote economic growth, protect our public services and help the most vulnerable in society.”
It seems that Cameron and Osborne  have treated the devolved legislatures with contempt in not consulting them on the proposed cuts  

It would been  common courtesy to explain to the devolved powers why and how the Government  have decided to  carry out the savage cuts.Instead they operate by diktat which has seen Ministers as diverse as the DUP Arlene Foster who before defecting was part of a "rightwing cabal within the UUP known as the 'baby barristers'." joining forces with the SNP@s Swinney and "Welsh Labour's  Jane Hutt to deplore the London Government's cuts.

The response from Number 11 may show us what the relationship with the devolved powers will be for the next five years.

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