The main civil service union, the PCS, has welcomed the Welsh Governement's decision not to end the system of giving civil servants automatic annual pay rises until they have moved from their starting salaries to the top of their grade. which the union regards as the rate for the job.
– Acting PCS Wales Secretary Darren Williams
We had hoped and expected that the Welsh Government would not follow the UK Government and tear up civil servants' pay and conditions. We are very pleased.
Mr Williams said the system of increases is a contractual right. Nearly, 5,700 civil servants work for the Welsh Government. Their starting salaries range from £17,000 to £54,500. The guaranteed annual pay rises on top are worth up to £3,250 for lowest paid and £12,300 for highest paid.
A few senior civil servants are paid more but don't qualify for the guaranteed pay rises. On Wednesday, the Chancellor set out why he felt it was right to scrap the scheme throughout the civil service
– Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne MP
That is the practice whereby many employees not only get a pay rise every year, but automatically move up a pay grade every single year, regardless of performance. Some public sector employees see annual pay rises of 7%. Progression pay can at best be described as antiquated; at worst, it is deeply unfair to other parts of the public sector that do not get it and to the private sector that has to pay for it. So we will end automatic progression pay in the civil service by 2015-16,
The Welsh Government says it has no plans to scrap the system of automatic pay progression for its civil servants. The Chancellor announced on Wednesday that he was getting rid of guaranteed annual salary increases in the Civil Service.
Today the Welsh Government said that won't apply to most of its staff, whose pay and conditions staff are decided in Wales. The only exception is for the most senior civil servants but they are already not eligible for automatic increases.
– Welsh Government spokesperson
The Welsh Government's pay arrangements are devolved with the exception of Senior Civil Servant pay which does not operate an incremental pay system.
Any change to the current pay system and the payment of increments would require detailed legal considerations and discussions with Trade Unions. There are no plans, at the present time, to change the system.
The decision only applies to Welsh Government employees. Civil Servants such as DVLA workers who are employed by a Whitehall department will be affected by the Chancellor's ruling.
Our Political Editor, Adrian Masters, talks to the newly appointed Education Minister, Huw Lewis AM.
Robert Lloyd Griffiths is from the Institute of Directors in Wales. He was hoping to see an announcement on upgrades to the M4 in today's Spending Review. He says that change is needed to help promote better access for businesses in Wales.
S4C's government funding for 2015/16 will be unchanged at £6.7 million, which will be a cut once inflation is taken into account. The Welsh language channel has also had cuts of 1% and 2% this year and next, which were announced in the Budget.
– Welsh Secretary David Jones MP
Today’s announcement further reinforces this Government’s commitment to a strong and independent Welsh language TV service. S4C has, undeniably, made an enormous contribution towards the creative industries in Wales, and crucially, to promoting the Welsh language. Indeed, it is the only Welsh language channel in the world. The Chancellor has recognised the importance the people of Wales place upon S4C, and has secured its funding for 2015/16. I am confident that the future is bright for S4C, and that it has the stability and certainty that it needs to continue to go from strength to strength.
– Culture Secretary Maria Miller MP
The fact that we have been able to ensure that S4C will receive no reductions to its Government funding is a very good result. S4C makes a tremendous contribution to the cultural and economic life of Wales and we are pleased to be able, even in tough economic times, to continue to support minority language broadcasting in Wales.Maintaining the current funding level will provide the channel with the certainty it needs to continue investing in, and producing, high-quality Welsh language programmes.
– Chair of the S4C Authority Huw Jones
S4C has worked closely with the ministerial team at the Wales Office, with committed Members of Parliament, with prominent membersof the National Assembly and the Wales Government, and with members of the House of Lords to try and ensure that the UK Government understands the far-reaching implications of any decision regarding the funding of S4C. Today’s announcement reflects the strength of the arguments. We are grateful to them all for their efforts and to the Chief Secretary for the Treasury, the Prime Minister and the Culture Secretary for listening to them.
Most of the channel's money now comes from the licence fee. An agreement reached with the BBC in January means S4C faces further cuts in that funding.
- 2013-14 - £76.3 million
- 2014-15 - £76.0 million
- 2015-16 - £75.25 million
- 2016-17 - £74.5 million
Shadow Welsh Secretary Owen Smith says the further cuts set out by the Chancellor represent 'an admission of failure to tackle the deficit.' And he criticised the lack of specific news on an M4 relief road.
He blamed the Welsh Secretary David Jones for that delay, saying his 'determination to block' borrowing powers for the Welsh Government was 'holding back Wales.'
Wales has already taken more pain than other parts of the country, with real wages falling £1600 since 2010, and the further cut announced today will mean that the Welsh Government’s budget is down by more than 10 per cent since the coalition came to power. Families and businesses in Wales need action now to get growth back into the economy, generate jobs and protect living standards. Instead, we heard yet another empty promise on the M4 relief road but still no detail on when work might start.
– Owen Smith MP, Shadow Welsh Secretary
What we should have heard from the Chancellor is that the Welsh Government will get the borrowing powers that were agreed last October, so that it can bring forward investment and get people back to work. The Welsh Secretary’s determination to block these extra powers is holding back investment, and holding back Wales.
The spending review 'confirms the challenge' facing the Welsh Government, according to the Finance Minister. Jane Hutt says she was pleased to hear the Chancellor describe plans to improve the M4 as 'impressive' and that he would announce steps to give Welsh ministers borrowing powers soon.
But she says that changes announced today would mean the Welsh Government's budget for 2015-16 will be £280m lower when inflation is taken into account than its budget for 2014-16.
– Jane Hutt AM, Finance Minister
It’s also worth remembering that these cuts come on top of those we have already had to manage since 2010 - so by 2015-16, our Budget will be lower by £1,680m in real terms than it was in 2010-11.
I have repeatedly called on the UK Government to boost the funds available for capital investment so this is a disappointing capital settlement – which does not increase the funding available – will do little to boost the economy. This is a missed opportunity.
Jane Hutt has also described funds for capital investment as 'disappointing' and 'a missed opportunity' to boost the economy.
– Jane Hutt AM, Finance Minister
Our capital budget in 2015-16 will be a third lower in real terms than in 2009-10. And almost £180m of our capital, which is an unprecedented 12% of the total, is subject to restrictions and can only be used for loans and equity investments. This means that there is a cut in the funding available for real capital investment from 2014-15 to 2105-16 of more than 5% in real terms.
These are difficult times but as a responsible government we are resolute in our commitment to stand up for the interest of Wales.
In its response to the Chancellor's Spending Review, Plaid Cymru highlights recent comments by member of the Shadow Cabinet about spending after 2015 to accuse Labour of falling into a 'political trap' laid by the Chancellor.
– Jonathan Edwards MP, Plaid Cymru
Today’s CSR paints a grim picture of further austerity ahead for Wales. The Tory Chancellor George Osborne laid a political trap for Labour that they have fallen into hook, line, and sinker by publicly accepting austerity cuts if they form the next government.
This leaves the people of Wales with absolutely no difference between Tory austerity and Labour austerity.
Austerity has failed on its own terms – it has been self-defeating, with the economy either in recession or stagnant in recent years.
The Treasury says the Welsh Government will get £1.5 billion to spend on capital projects like building roads, schools and social housing in 2015/16. That's £0.2 billion more than it's getting this year and £0.1 billion more than it's already been told it will get next year.
The increase in real terms is 0.3%. It does not include finance for relieving congestion on the M4 around Newport. That would be paid for under a deal allowing the Welsh Government to borrow money that has not yet been finalised.
A senior Welsh Conservative source says it's 'regrettable' that negotiations between the UK and Welsh Governments on borrowing powers for the Welsh Government weren't concluded before the Chancellor's spending review
In his speech, George Osborne said he would make an announcement on 'impressive' plans for an M4 relief road shortly. It's thought those plans are linked to Welsh Government borrowing powers as recommended by the first report of the Silk Commission.
The UK Government's response to the Silk Commission report was due in the spring but has been delayed while talks continue between the Treasury and the Welsh Government. The source said:
Funding mechanisms are always complex, but it is regrettable that Silk 1 couldn’t be sorted prior to the CSR. We remain firm in the view that Silk 1 must be implemented in full and will continue to campaign for it and an M4 relief road.