Wales Is Still 'Deluded' about Depth of Cuts, Says Academic; NATION FACES A 'WATERSHED' IN ITS ECONOMIC HISTORY
Byline: TOMOS LIVINGSTONE
WALES remains "deluded" about the nature and impact of the public spending cuts to be announced by the Treasury next month, a leading academic warned last night.
Professor Malcolm Prowle of Nottingham Business School said Wales, which is highly dependent on public sector employment, faced a watershed in [its] social and economic history".
Chancellor George Osborne is planning to announce pounds 83bn in spending reductions in next month's spending review.
Prof Prowle said: "If we just regard the current fiscal crisis as one which will simply go away in a few years with a return to business as normal involving ongoing real terms increases in public expenditure each year, then we are deluding ourselves."
He said there needed to be "substantial and radical thought" about the future of Welsh public services, including whether the NHS could continue in its current form.
His comments came as the political battle over the review, to be unveiled on October 20, began to intensify. In other developments yesterday: Mr Osborne signalled a further pounds 4bn of cuts by 2014-15 in the welfare budget; The TUC warned that unemployment could be high "for a generation"; Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said he was prepared for unpopularity as the cuts hit.
The Assembly Government is still awaiting details of how it will be affected, but it faces a reduction of up to pounds 2bn in its budget over four years.
Prof Prowle said: "It is time politicians came clean with the people and stopped trying to pretend that everything will be fine and that major changes will not be needed."
Plaid Cymru MP Jonathan Edwards said: "We are going to be campaigning against the nature of the retrenchment proposed by the Government, on the grounds that it will damage the economy.
"The real issue is what measures are they going to be introducing to stimulate private sector growth in the more publicly-reliant economies within the UK, and obviously Wales is part of that. …