Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Robbing Paul to Repay Peter - a.k.a. The Budget

"Sing a Song of Sixpence, a pocketful of Rye.........."

In the government game of Monopoly, money changes location with annoying regularity.  The only problem being, is that there is no NEW money being added to the game.  Rather, we get bogus announcements of budget allocations from La Hutt, Finance Minister, that bandy huge sums of money about like the £500 note rents payable when you're unfortunate enough to land on Park Lane or Mayfair. Unfortunately, as I say, this is the same old money that has been floating around government departments for years.  Why, even dear old Mark Drakeford was torn away from his allotment to announce ( once again ), that £88m was to be allocated for the building of the new adult mental health unit at Llandough. ( Explantion : 3 Years ago, Paul Hollard and Katie Norton confirmed that £80m had been 'ring-fenced' for this important project, so what extra £88m is for, nobody knows.  The project remains three years late, with not a sod of earth having being lifted in preparation ).

Yes, Jane Hutt AM announced that £570m was being budgeted for health over the next three years. This would have meant £190m extra each year, except for the fact that  the Minister explained that this sum included £150m until April 2014.  As you avid mathematicians would have worked out that means that only £420m is to be available for health over the next three fiscal years, making us all wonder why the Minister said £570 over three years in the first place !  So, NOW we have the actual figure of £140m as the annual share of this booty.

Sadly - when we listen further - the dear old thing mentions that this extra money will come from cuts to made in Local Authority budgets, where cuts to further education (£43m), libraries etc will have to be made.  Hence the title of this post Robbing Paul to repay Peter, as "£800 has already been cut from the health budget over the last five years" - verbatim Shadow Finance Minister, Paul Davies.

Clear as mud, isn't it ?  except - in reality - we know that every amount budgeted to enable this government to function, is cloaked by an impenetrable fog, contradicting the "Openness and Transparency" that we were promised by the second First Minister, Rhodri Morgan .

So - there we have it ! £570m 'over three years', which will actually only be £440 m = ca £140m p.a.. And, let us not forget Professor Drakeford's promise of £88m for the new mental health unit - assuming, of course - that it will ever be built. Or, if it is built, whether this imaginary cost will also be taken from the £570m !

I know I have said this to the point of boredom but, as a writer, I wish I could create fiction as well as our Welsh Government.     R.  W.

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