Promoted by Mark Ward-Jones on behalf of the Torfaen Constituency Labour Party at 27 Brunel Road, Fairwater, Cwmbran, Torfaen NP44 4QT.
The Torfaen Assembly Member spoke of the steadfast and sustainable approach to protecting public services in the Welsh Government’s Draft Budget, passed in the Senedd yesterday afternoon [9 February 2016].
The ‘Fairer and Better Wales’ Draft Budget 2016-17 proposals were put before AMs. Despite a challenging settlement from Westminster, Wales has ensured higher per-head spend on health and social services, continued investment in education, and greater protection for Councils than in England.
The biggest local headline for Torfaen and South East Wales is the capital funding allocation for the Cwmbran-based Specialist Critical Care Centre. The business case is still with the Welsh Government, but as a sign of commitment they have allocated £36m, the largest single allocation in this year’s capital budget. This £500m hospital – with 470 beds, emergency treatment and assessment will deliver 21st century healthcare for the Valleys.
Lynne Neagle highlighted the spending commitments she was pleased to see – including almost £300m extra NHS funding, a joined up approach for health and social care, and a better than anticipated local government settlement.
Speaking in the chamber, Lynne Neagle AM said:
“I’m pleased to speak today on what I see as a positive budget settlement from the Welsh Government…and our steadfast and sustainable approach to public services.
That’s not to say there aren’t tough choices after six years of Westminster austerity. We are the first administration since the start of devolution with only cuts to deal with – 11% in real terms by 2020.
This is a Welsh Labour Government that protects the NHS. Thanks to the £300m extra this year and the £1.1bn already invested over the past two years, we spend more per-head on health than England.
Social Services is a crucial part of that rounded healthcare system and I’m proud that we in Wales recognise the link in funding. I’ve always made the case for more investment in social care and I’m delighted to see an additional £21m in the draft budget.
This is in sharp contrast to England where huge cuts are already causing chaos and we’ve even seen proposals from one English Council to charge £26 for older vulnerable residents who fall in the night. Of course Social Services departments in Wales face challenges but we approach them in the spirit of consultation and cooperation reflected in this budget.”
Speaking about Local Government, Lynne Neagle continued:
“Torfaen who originally planned a -4% reduction are now able to look back over some of those cuts put forward so reluctantly… -1.7% is still a significant cut though and there are some really difficult choices pending for an authority which faces significant challenges and serves communities with levels of deprivation. I cannot let this opportunity pass without stressing the need for greater weight on deprivation funding for urban Valleys authorities like Torfaen.
In conclusion, this is a draft budget that delivers our manifesto commitments and protects vital public services which are brutally being cut to the bone elsewhere.”