Friday, 1 May 2009

Cuts? What Cuts?

Dr Eurfyl Ap Gwilym told the World yesterday that Universal public services in Wales face a tricky future, either they remain but get worse, or they maintain standards but become not so Universal (i.e. means tested). He indicated that given the financial settlement for Wales, big projects like free prescriptions for all, free school breakfasts (free laptops), and the M4 relief road would all have to (cue that Queen song) bite the dust.

So what does Ieuan Wyn Jones (IWJ) make of his economic guru's thoughts? Well on last night's Dragon's Eye programme he seemed to agree with him, saying that Wales was looking at tough times well into the next decade - pretty strong stuff. So where would these cuts be made? Nowhere apparently - no job cuts and no slowdown in capital expenditure. Now, no-one wants to hear that job cuts have to be made but isn't denial worse?

Am I the only one who thinks there's a bit of tension in what we heard from IWJ? On the one hand he said that public services will be severely affected, whilst on the other he refused to accept that job cuts and capital cuts are inevitable. Can the WAG who have made £600 million in savings over the last four years really expect to make £600 million savings A YEAR over the next few?

IWJ passionately defended Universality of services like free prescriptions and again said that One Wales projects would not be shelved, what we essentially heard was public services face a tough time but they will stay exactly the same, hmmm.

I hope he's right and public service job cuts are avoided but surely he must understand why people are a bit sceptical.

Dewi Un


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