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Budget "short-sighted" say Plaid Cymru

Plaid Cymru has claimed that the Welsh Government's budget proposals for 2015-2016 will create long term problems for the NHS. Plaid have been involved in previous budget deals but refused to negotiate with Labour this year in protest at the plans for an M4 relief road around Newport. The new budget is backed by the Liberal Democrats who also oppose the road scheme. It includes money for design work on the new motorway but if goes ahead, construction work won't start until after the 2016 Assembly election.

Today’s short-sighted budget from the Welsh Government delivers a vicious blow for the services that we rely on. The UK Government’s determination to shrink public services is being continued by the Labour Government in Wales. The Labour party is doing the Tories’ dirty work for them.

Protecting the health budget without protecting the social services that support them is short-sighted, and scaling back social care will only put more pressure on health services in the long run.

Plaid Cymru took the conscious decision to withdraw from budget negotiations because the Welsh Government committed this government, and many governments to come, to the flawed and expensive £1 billion M4 scheme when there were better options available.

The Labour government’s failure to manage budgets has meant that it has been living hand-to-mouth for many years, and this budget is a continuation of that theme.

– Plaid Cymru Finance Spokesperson Alun Ffred Jones AM

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Plaid : 'Vow' to stick with current funding formula is bad news for Wales

Plaid's Shadow Minister for the Economy, Rhun ap Iorwerth says the joint declaration to stick with the current funding formula is part of an eleventh hour panic by UK party leaders that puts Wales at a huge disadvantage. He claims it raises questions about what influence First Minister Carwyn Jones has with the Labour party at UK level.

Plaid say Scotland faces a grim future as part of UK

Plaid Cymru has warned of a "grim" outcome for Scotland if it votes against independence next month and insisted that if the Scots leave the UK, Wales can benefit. The party has seized on polling evidence that the English want Scots to stop benefitting from public spending above the UK average.

The same poll showed that the Welsh agree with the English on this issue, although there's little support in either Wales or England for Scottish independence. Plaid is supporting the campaign by its SNP sister party for a 'yes' vote next month.

Public opinion in England on how Scotland should be treated if it votes ‘no’ paints a grim scenario for Scotland if its people vote against independence in the referendum. There could be public demand in England for a backlash against Scottish public expenditure and against the voting rights of Scottish MPs. This idea of ‘playing hard-ball’ with Scotland is not likely to help rebalance the UK or solve the problem of political and economic power being concentrated in the south-east of England.

Plaid Cymru maintains that the emergence of an independent Scotland would be in Wales' economic, social and political interests. We have said that following the Scottish referendum there needs to be a new era of self-government for Wales based on a reserved powers model, so that we have a more equal relationship between Wales, England and any other parts of the UK.

– Plaid Cymru AM Rhun ap Iorwerth

Plaid Cymru concerned over cuts to apprenticeships

Plaid Cymru has expressed its dismay over cuts to the Young Recruits Programme and apprenticeships.

The party found that £7 million of in-year cuts are being made to the Welsh Government's education and skills budget, affecting the schemes.

Despite the high demand for apprenticeships, the Deputy Minister for Education and Skills has confirmed that the programme is to be changed.

We have been open about the scale of the financial challenges we face. These reductions have been made after careful consideration of all available options.

Let's be clear - we are delivering on our budget agreement. In spite of these reductions, we have been able to maintain funding for traineeships, and we are continuing to fund Apprenticeships for those aged 16-24 and Higher Level Apprenticeships.

Our Young Recruits Programme has been extremely popular and has exceeded its target. In order to continue to offer the programme, we have had to restrict eligibility for future recruitment to participants progressing into apprenticeships from Jobs Growth Wales and apprentices on an approved Shared Apprenticeship Scheme.

– Ken Skates AM, Deputy Minister for Skill and Technology

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Lib Dems say M4 plan makes budget talks difficult

The Welsh Lib Dems are now the only party talking to the Welsh Government about a deal to support the budget. Their leader, Kirsty Willaims, says that following Plaid Cymru's decision to quit the negotiations over the £1 billion Newport motorway announcement says she'll keep negotiating but the plan for the M4 makes it "difficult".

The Welsh Liberal Democrat priority for the next budget continues to be extra support for Wales’ poorest school children through our Pupil Premium. However, it’s very difficult to see how we can support a budget that prioritises the current M4 proposals and that is what we will explain to the Welsh Government in future negotiations.

The M4 announcement yesterday was a huge mistake. It completely flies in the face of the environmental and economic issues. Our proposed alternatives are far less expensive and less likely to damage vast swathes of the environment. A responsible Government wouldn’t spend its entire borrowing powers on one single road, leaving no money left for other transport projects.

– Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Kirsty Williams AM

Plaid quit budget talks over "reckless" new M4

Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood has pulled her party out of budget talks with the Welsh Government in protest at the decision to spend £1 billion on a new motorway around Newport. She claimed it was a reckless and undemocratic decision, arguing that cheaper and more effective solutions to the traffic jams on the existing M4 would have left more money to be spent in other parts of Wales.

The Welsh Government does not have a majority in the Senedd and needs the support of at least one other party to get its budget passed. In the past, it has reached a deal with Plaid Cymru, the Liberal Democrats or both. Plaid and the Welsh Lib Dems has reached an agreement to negotiate jointly in future.

This is a stand that Plaid Cymru has been compelled to make. The Welsh Government acted with complete disregard for the democratic institution when it took this decision without proper scrutiny and with no business case.

Plaid Cymru wants the M4 congestion problem resolved now and resolved properly. There is an option to do this at a more reasonable cost giving us the same answer and that is why Plaid Cymru in government turned down this more expensive and environmentally damaging option.

In budget negotiations, we would have worked hard to ensure the best value for money for the Welsh taxpayer, and yet the Welsh Government has blown a billion pounds on this extravagant project when there are more efficient and more cost-effective alternatives.

– Plaid Cymru Leader Leanne Wood AM

Former Plaid Cymru minister to leave Assembly in 2016

Former Plaid Cymru Housing Minister Jocelyn Davies has announced that she will leave the Assembly at the 2016 election.

Ms Davies has been a regional AM for South Wales East since the first Assembly was elected in 1999.

Jocelyn Davies served in the Labour-Plaid Cymru 'One Wales' administration. Credit: National Assembly for Wales

The AM, who was born in 1959 and comes from Newbridge, is currently chair of the Assembly's Finance Committee.

The next Assembly will lay the foundations for a further increase in the powers of the Assembly, with the powers to increase borrowing being one of the first steps on this path.

It will be a new and exciting period and I feel that with these new powers and with the increasing prominence that the Assembly will play in the lives of the people of Wales, it is time for a new generation of Plaid Cymru politicians, with a fresh outlook, to take the party and the Assembly forward to the next stage of the devolution journey.

– Jocelyn Davies, South Wales East AM
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