Thursday, November 18, 2010

Labour-Plaid budget a missed opportunity on NHS waste, economic growth and pupil premium

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have responded to the Labour-Plaid budget, describing it as a missed opportunity to build Wales’s economic future, root out waste in the NHS and target funding at the poorest school children.

Kirsty Williams, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats said:

“Welsh Liberal Democrats want front line health services protected but that does not mean that savings cannot be made in NHS bureaucracy. It is no good protecting the health budget when there is evidence that £1 billion of the health budget is being misspent.

“Despite the drop in unemployment announced in today’s figures, the economic recovery is still fragile. In these circumstances, it beggars belief that the economy and transport department that should be driving the Welsh economic recovery has faced some of the biggest cuts.

“The Labour-Plaid Government has consistently underfunded our schools. Education spending in Wales is over £530 lower per pupil than in England and this is reflected in Wales’s poorer exam performance. We welcome the commitment to the roll out of the foundation phase but it is desperately disappointing that the government hasn’t taken the opportunity to close the funding gap at all levels, starting with children from the poorest backgrounds. Neither should we be fooled into thinking that this is an education budget when the government are paying for their school funding by cutting cash from universities and FE colleges.

“As families and businesses tighten their belts, the public expect our Government to do the same. It is encouraging that this year’s budget seems to be looking for the savings in administration and central bureaucracy that the Welsh Liberal Democrats have called for.

“However, in some areas the steps being taken are far too tentative. One year after the Welsh Liberal Democrats proposed merging the numerous environmental quangos, the Labour Plaid government is only now promising ‘a review of options’ aimed at saving taxpayers money in this area.

“The Welsh Liberal Democrats will be seeking to work cooperatively with the government to address these concerns.”

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