Budget deal: Welsh Government will also look at Lib Dem ideas
by Adrian Masters
The Welsh Government says it'll continue and increase the pupil deprivation grant agreed with the Liberal Democrats last year and will look at other proposals put forward by the party during negotiations. A spokesman said:
We are very pleased with today's agreement. It's entirely in line with what we're already doing as a Government and what we pledged to implement through our manifesto. Since the last election, via Jobs Growth Wales and our current apprenticeship schemes, we have repeatedly demonstrated our commitment to tackle unemployment amongst our young people. We believe today's deal is an extension of our commitment and the promise we made to the people of Wales.
We consider the proposals put forward by the Welsh Liberal Democrats during these negotiations, as very interesting. In recognition of this, the ideas they brought to the table during recent weeks, will be examined further by the Government. The Pupil Deprivation Grant that we jointly agreed last year with them, will receive an uplift in the coming financial year and we will look very closely at the idea of an innovative health technologies fund for Welsh patients.
When the Welsh Labour Government was elected back in May 2011, Carwyn Jones pledged he would reach out to other parties in the Assembly. He is fulfilling this promise through the deal we struck last year with the Welsh Liberal Democrats and this year with Plaid Cymru. As a Government, we are true to our word.
Plaid Cymru has reached a deal with the Welsh Government, which means the party will not oppose this year's budget. It says it will secure the creation of thousands of apprenticeships and jobs, with £40million over two years for apprenticeships, which could attract £20 million of EU funding.
There will also be a £10 million investment in a science park led by Bangor University in collaboration with Aberystwyth University. Again it's hoped there will also be EU and private sector investment.
Plaid Cymru is proud to announce that thousands of apprenticeships and jobs will be created as a result of the deal that we have reached with the government today. Youth unemployment is at crisis levels in Wales having quadrupled over the past year. The Party of Wales has been consistent in our determination that urgent action had to be taken to tackle that. The economy and jobs have been my priority and focus since the outset. This is concrete action that we help to rebuild our economy and equip our young people with the tools they need for a successful future.
– Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood AM
Last year, Plaid Cymru made little headway in its budget talks with Labour and the Government eventually did a deal with the Liberal Democrats, who secured the payment of a pupil deprivation grant. The grant will continue next year.
AMs 'unconvinced' Welsh Government can afford its plans
Members of the Assembly's Finance Committee say they're not convinced the Welsh Government will be able to afford its spending plans for the next financial year.
The AMs single out health spending as the major area of concern. They say they believe local health boards will overspend and money will have to be taken from other areas to meet the shortfalls. And they criticise 'an apparent lack of preparation' to work out where that money could come from.
The committee's chair, Jocelyn Davies AM said:
The Committee is not convinced this draft budget can cover everything that the Welsh Government wants to achieve in the next financial year.
Of particular concern is the evidence which suggests that Wales’s Local Health Boards will not come in on target this year and we believe further consideration should be given to what areas and departments will be squeezed if and when budgets get tight.
We also wish to see greater clarification on the scale of costs for implementing future legislation for local authorities as currently there appears to be a large discrepancy between Welsh Government and local authority estimates.