Thursday, March 17, 2005

Do nothing budget no use for Wales

This ‘no change’ budget offers nothing for the people of Wales and our economy. It’s clear it was a budget written with conservative middle-England voters in mind. The Chancellor mentioned Britain more than 40 times in his speech but what he really meant was England. The National Sports Foundation is for England only, the free bus passes for pensioners are for English pensioners only, and the proposals for shared equity mortgages only apply in England.

It’s high time that we in Wales got our own Chancellor; someone who will put Wales’ interests first.

The Chancellor’s pre-election sweeteners for pensioners and families will do very little to alleviate poverty levels in Wales. If the government was seriously committed to improving the lives of the elderly they would scrap the unfair council tax all together and replace it with a local income tax based on ability to pay. Plaid Cymru’s proposals for pensioners would guarantee each pensioner a decent standard of living through a citizens’ pension and savings of up to £1,000 per year on their council tax bills.
The £5.3b spent by this government on fighting an illegal war in Iraq would be much better spent on providing more and better quality affordable housing and on improving our schools and hospitals.

This year we have a record £42b trade deficit. With an economy like ours which is heavily reliant on exports, such a large trade deficit is very bad news. Manufacturing output was down in the last two quarters and in general over the next couple of years, growth is expected to slow down. This no change budget fails to address this deficit which leaves the Welsh economy in a very vulnerable position.

This was the Chancellor’s last opportunity to find the missing millions for the ASW workers and he has failed to do so. This is extremely sad news for the ASW workers who have fought for years to claim what is rightfully theirs.”

This was a very disappointing budget in terms of the environment, especially following the Chancellor’s speech yesterday where he claimed he would put the environment at the heart of his economic policy. Increasing the air passenger duty would have been one way for the Chancellor to tackle the environmental damage caused by the rapid growth in air transport but it’s clear the environment is simply not a priority for this New Labour Government.