Public Sector Needs 'Team Wales' Mentality to Meet Tough Financial Challenge; Finance Minister Says Budget Will Protect Services for the Vulnerable

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), December 9, 2009 | Go to article overview

Public Sector Needs 'Team Wales' Mentality to Meet Tough Financial Challenge; Finance Minister Says Budget Will Protect Services for the Vulnerable


Byline: Martin Shipton

A "TEAM WALES" approach is needed to combat the financial challenge faced by our public services over the coming years, it was claimed yesterday.

The claim came as the public sector in Wales was shown the difficult choices it faces to make ends meet as the Assembly Government's final Budget for 2010-11 was approved.

Finance Minister Andrew Davies said the Budget was the result of some tough decisions but would protect services for the vulnerable.

Details of cash settlements for local authorities across Wales showed increases ranging from 1% in Anglesey to 3.1% in Newport and Wrexham.

Mr Davies said: "These are uncertain times - but whatever the future may hold, we remain committed to partnership.

"We will continue to work closely with our business, trade union and social partners through the economic summits, taking practical action to support individuals and businesses throughout the current global economic downturn.

"We need a 'Team Wales' approach to the challenge faced by our public services over the coming years in responding to the pressure on public finances, and the need to achieve better with the same or less for the citizens and communities of Wales.

"This means urgent and sustained action on transforming public service efficiency and delivery and that is why the Assembly Government will be convening a public services summit in the new year to plan and deliver a 'Team Wales' approach to the challenges we face in public service delivery.

"The final Budget is the result of some tough decisions, reflecting the challenging times in which we are now operating.

"It will provide the resources needed to continue to implement the One Wales agenda - helping protect and improve the public services that make a real difference to people's lives, and helping people, communities and businesses through the global recession."

To complement his Budget speech, the minister also issued a policy paper, Better Outcomes for Tougher Times, setting out how the Assembly will be working with public services and social partners "to continue transforming public service efficiency and driving innovation".

Mr Davies said: "The Budget has been subject to robust and challenging scrutiny and I am confident that it will provide Wales with better outcomes in the challenging times we face.

"In the draft Budget proposals we took a strategic approach to protect and sustain the key public services that people rely on and continue our successful partnership work to help Wales weather the global economic downturn.

"Through taking the difficult decisions necessary to find efficiency savings, we have created the opportunity to allocate new revenue funding from our reserves.

"Prioritisation for new strategic allocations was given to measures which will counteract the economic challenges we face.

"This includes pounds 20m to tackle youth unemployment and pounds 4m to support additional research and development work in collaboration with business."

Mr Davies said scrutiny and discussion since the publication of the draft Budget had confirmed the right approach had been adopted, and the final Budget therefore corresponded closely to the original draft Budget.

Local Government Minister Brian Gibbons released details of the cash settlements for local authorities across Wales, with increases ranging from 1% at Anglesey to 3.1% in Newport and Wrexham.

Dr Gibbons said: "Next year, before accounting for transfers, local authorities in Wales will receive an average increase of 2.1% on the previous year's revenue settlement.

"This is broadly unchanged from the provisional settlement announcement I made on October 13.

"The final settlement confirms the inclusion of a floor mechanism to ensure that all authorities receive a minimum increase of 1%. …

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