Sunday, April 29, 2007

Money questions for Plaid

2011: A crazy nationalist odyssey -

Flawed nationalist spending plans would punish Welsh workers and core public services NATIONALIST spending plans for Wales have been branded as "not of this planet" in a major attack by Labour. According to Plaid Cymru, it will be able to pay for policies such as free laptops for schoolchildren and £5,000 grants for first-time buyers, as well as maintaining spending levels for our public services, within the existing Assembly budget.

But new analysis revealed by Labour shows that this would not be possible without freezing the wages of public sector workers and raiding the budgets of core public services. Plaid Cymru's spending plans would mean:

A wage freeze for all public sector workers in Wales, even assuming that other overheads, such as energy costs, will be frozen ·

A reversal of Labour's projected growth in NHS spending ·

A reversal of Labour's projected growth in social services ·

A reversal of Labour's projected growth in education spending

Labour First Minister RHODRI MORGAN said: "This is sci-fi politics from the nationalists. Almost every week we have a new outlandish spending commitment, each time making their claims to be a serious party of government seem all the less credible. "These are spending promises not of this planet. "Plaid Cymru says it can be trusted with the NHS, yet its plans would mean a reversal of our proposed growth in the health budget. The nationalists say in leaflets and meetings across Wales that they want to protect rural schools, yet they want to reverse our planned growth in education. They say they are the party that stands up for public sector workers, yet their policies would effectively mean pay cuts for all our public sector workers. "These are policies, Ieuan, but not as we know it. This shoddy and irresponsible wish-list would lead Wales into a crazy nationalist odyssey, a nation in such a shambles by 2011 that the institution of devolution would be a laughing stock.

"Only Labour can be trusted with our public services, our children's futures and our jobs."

Notes: It does not serve Welsh politics well that the Plaid Cymru manifesto has been built on calculations of available new resources which are fundamentally flawed and present to the electorate a programme of which less than a quarter could possibly be delivered. Plaid Cymru states an assumption that there will be an additional £1.582bn for Assembly Government expenditure during the three years 2008-9 to 2010-11. This figure can only be calculated by adding together the Chancellor's forecast for two per cent real growth and two per cent inflation; this would allow Plaid Cymru to assume four per cent cash budget growth, just over £500m a year. In allocating all of this cash growth to new programmes Plaid Cymru has made no provision for increased wages or other costs. They have assumed a total wage freeze in the Welsh public sector and assumed that all other costs, such as energy costs, can similarly be frozen. They would need to reverse all the projected growth that the Government has built into existing programmes for the NHS, social services and education. Labour has been in Government for the past eight years. Our manifesto reflects the fact that we have been the party of government with a well established programme of policy development and budget planning. The budget for 2007-8 is already fully allocated and no new programmes can begin in this financial year.

Over the three year period after 2008, the cost over and above existing budget plans will be £243.5 million; £41.5 million revenue and £36 million capital each year. The Chancellor of the Exchequer's 2007 Budget announced that public spending will increase by 2% annually in real terms in the spending review period 2008-9 to 2010-11. Until next Autumn's Spending Review we can not be certain whether the Assembly Government Block Grant will a little below or a little above that real terms growth figure; it depends on the balance of allocations between devolved and non-devolved programmes. Ends

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