The Draft Budget underlines the Assembly Government’s commitment to protecting health, social services, schools and skills – and provides vital help for the most vulnerable people in our society; support for children and older people; and a boost for our fragile economic recovery.
Minister Jane Hutt said:
‘This Draft Budget is framed against the most difficult financial backdrop since the advent of devolution.
‘We are on record as stating our opposition to the speed and depth of cuts imposed by the UK Government at this crucial phase of recovery from recession.
‘However, having been dealt this hand, we are determined to do what it takes to stand up for the people of Wales and continue to provide the right support for those who need it most.
‘Our Draft Budget is about building resilience – resilience in our economy, and in the provision of vital services on which people depend.
‘With reducing budgets – our Budget next year will fall by £860m and will be £1.8bn lower by 2014-15 - difficult choices have had to be made, and clearly there have had to be reductions in some activities. However, we have approached these choices on the basis of the best evidence available and have worked hard to reduce the duration and impact of any reductions.
‘That is why I have met extensively with frontline public sector workers, service users, trades unions and representatives from the third and private sectors over the past few weeks.
‘We have listened to the people of Wales – and have taken action to protect Health and Social Services – vital services that we will all depend on at some time in our lives. It is a measure of the difficult decisions we have had to make that health and social services is the only area where the budget will not reduce in 2011-12. Despite the cut to our budget in 2011-12, revenue funding for NHS Delivery – by far the largest budget line in the Health Service - will actually be higher next year than this year.
'Responding to our equality impact assessments and local government pressures, funding for social services will increase in cash terms by £35m by 2013-14 – representing a 3% uplift.
‘We have also taken action to ensure that our young people will not be disadvantaged and are given the best possible start in life. We have therefore sought to protect schools and skills, and also protect initiatives to address child poverty. That is why budgets for schools, both within the Education Department and through local authorities, will grow by almost 5% over the three years. Budgets for schools and skills within the Education Department will grow by 6.5% over the three years. This means that we can continue the roll out of the pioneering Foundation Phase for 3-7 year olds and increase funding for Flying Start over the period.
'The Draft Budget also reaffirms our commitment to universal benefits – and provides funding for the continuation of our successful free bus pass scheme, free prescriptions, free school breakfasts and milk for primary school children – funding for these key initiatives will rise by 3.7% by 2013-14.
‘Despite the 40% cut in capital imposed by the UK Government’s Spending Review – a reduction of £667m by 2014-15 - our prudent management of capital programmes has enabled us to provide a £47m boost for capital schemes this year, many of which will give much needed support to the construction industry. Further details will be available early next week.’
Minister Jane Hutt:
‘The first decade of devolved government coincided with rising public expenditure. Today we face a major test of our economic resilience as a nation and our ability to work together.
‘This Draft Budget continues the commitment to the spirit of fair play that has characterised our approach since devolution. In accordance with the best traditions of the people of Wales, we are resolved to uphold that commitment and support people, communities and public services throughout the difficult period that lies ahead.’