Tag Archives: Welsh Government

Debunked: Tory lies about Welsh health spending

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Vox Political has been made aware that some Tories are passing false information about the Welsh Government’s health spending since the Coalition started cutting its grant to Wales – by a total of 10 per cent since 2010.

If any readers see Tweets, Facebook posts or blog articles alleging NHS expenditure at a certain amount and then claiming that the Welsh Government cut spending rather than Westminster, show them the following – it’s the actual NHS Wales expenditure for 2010-2013:

  • 2010-11: £5.355bn
  • 2011-12: £5.389bn
  • 2012-13: £5.427bn

(Source: Statistics for Wales (@statisticswales) 11/6/14)

If healthcare had been budgeted in line with the cut from Westminster, the figure would have been £4.82 billion in 2015-16. There was £150 million ‘extra’ in 2013-14, £570 million ‘extra’ in 2014-15, and will be £420 million ‘extra’ in 2015-16. I don’t have figures for 2013-14.

I can’t provide totals because health spending in the statistical release is different from health and social services spending in the Welsh Budgets for the last few years, and the plan for next year. It wouldn’t be comparing like-for-like and I’m not about to fall into Jeremy Hunt-style statistical abuse.

Meanwhile, real-terms funding for health in England was falling… would you like to read about that?

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Clueless Cameron – as tired as his policies?

Tired old Tory: Is this David Cameron or Ken Clarke? [Picture: BBC, augmented with help by Ian Davies]

Tired old Tory: Is this David Cameron or Ken Clarke? [Picture: BBC, augmented with help from Ian Davies]

David Tennant’s outstanding run as the title character in Doctor Who began by ending the career of fictional Prime Minister Harriet Jones with just six words to an aide: “Don’t you think she looks tired?”

The character had been PM for a very short time but had made serious errors of judgement. In that respect – and that alone – she is the David Cameron of the Doctor Who universe.

Cameron and his cronies are currently wheeling out a succession of policies that they want us to believe are new. The latest of these, according to the BBC News website, involves extended opening hours for local doctors.

That’s right – he’ll be piloting a £50 million scheme in nine areas of England where surgeries will be able to bid for funding to open from 8am to 8pm, seven days a week.

Perhaps he’s hoping that our memories have suffered rapid ill-health recently, because this is nothing but an old Labour scheme, painted blue.

Labour offered GP practices extra money to open later in the evening and on weekends, and most surgeries tried it out – until lack of demand meant funding was reduced and hours cut back.

Many surgeries still offer out-of-hours appointments – so it seems unlikely that there is any need for Cameron’s version at all…

… unless he is considering making an appointment for himself. Look at the image. Don’t you think he looks tired?

Other policies introduced during the Tory conference include the indefinite extension of Workfare for the long-term unemployed, which is nothing more than an underhanded plot to make it seem that joblessness has dropped, allowing the Bank of England to raise interest rates, as this blog revealed yesterday.

And the much-touted but low-paying married tax allowance turned out to be even lower-paying for the low-waged who are already receiving help through tax credits, which are due to be phased out in favour of Universal Credit, paid to people whose incomes are low after tax. Their higher after-tax income means their UC will drop by £130, making them just £70 per year better-off.

Meanwhile, the ‘free school meals’ policy unveiled by Coalition partners the Liberal Democrats has also left a nasty taste in peoples’ mouths. It turns out that the number of people receiving such help is about the only indicator of low-income households available to school authorities, and is part of how schools show regulators that SAT results are not their only priority – they are doing their best in areas where parents are out of work. Losing that marker means schools in challenging circumstances will be unable to demonstrate their situation and will suffer as a result.

That leaves just the new tax on plastic bags in England, which is an idea the Coalition stole from the much-maligned Labour Welsh Government – another Labour idea the Tories have adopted (and this should serve as a warning sign for Labour: When Tories adopt your policies, you have drifted much too far to the right of the political spectrum).

Clearly the strain – of trying to dream up new policies that will make his party look good – has taken its toll on clueless Cameron.

Don’t you think he looks tired?

Zones of growth – thoughts on how to improve Mid Wales’ economy

Many of you may be aware of the proposal to create ‘Growth Zones’ in Powys – at Brecon, Llandrindod Wells and Newtown – roughly equivalent to the new Enterprise Zones created by the government elsewhere in the UK. My opinion is that these are a good idea. The Welsh Government has put out a call for evidence on the proposal and information can be found on its website here.

Unfortunately, the deadline for entries is June 1. I’m writing this on May 28 so, if you want to make a submission, you need to act fast!

What follows is my own submission. I want people to see what I’ve put forward because I think it might help them in shaping their own thoughts. I’m not saying it’s perfect because I hope others will have different or better ideas; I’m putting it up in the hope that it will stimulate your imagination, and the Welsh Government will get better submissions as a result.

I would also appreciate your comments and suggestions – just use the form at the bottom.

Here’s my submission:

All three possible locations must be able to compete with the Enterprise Zones that have already been announced, therefore the features common to all of those should be included here. These include: Government support to ensure super-fast broadband, achieved through guaranteeing the most supportive environment and, if necessary, public funding; low levels of regulation and planning controls; a 100 per cent business rate discount over a five year period for businesses that move into a Growth Zone during the course of this Parliament (although I recommend a graded scheme to reintroduce business rates thereafter, alongside a graded penalty scheme for businesses that choose to move away once the discount is removed); all business rates growth within the zone for a period of at least 25 years will be retained and shared by the local authority to support its economic priorities; and Government and local authority help to develop radically simplified planning approaches.

I believe funding should be provided for an office that would help film makers (cinema or television) find locations within Powys. Llandrindod Wells would be the best location (as it is in the centre of the county). Powys has breathtaking natural beauty that has gone unused by film makers, simply because nobody knows about it. A film locations office would bring income to landowners whose land would be used, and to residents who could be hired as ‘extras’ during filming.

Material I have read on Enterprise Zones has categorised them in certain ways, stating what tax breaks, planning controls and broadband levels might be possible, along with a line called ‘Sector Focus’, declaring what businesses should be encouraged into the zone. I would recommend:

Tax break: Save businesses money in foregone business rates.

Planning: Simplified regime permitted the change of use of existing buildings.

Broadband: Explore delivery of superfast broadband with suppliers.

This leaves the ‘Sector Focus’. I would like to propose several possibilities as follows, based on my knowledge of local industry and the possibilities that could be accommodated here in Powys:

Sector focus: Green technologies; Advanced technologies; Movable skills (small businesses that could benefit from working in a rural setting); sustainable agriculture (farming techniques that are beneficial to the environment); creative industries; energy sector (carbon-free/green).