Welsh Government must refuse to carry out Tory cuts!

2nd August 2013

In an article written for 'click on wales', the online magazine for Welsh think tank, the Institute for Welsh Affairs (IWA), Mike Hedges today (2/7/2013) makes the point that cuts in local government services can have a detrimental effect on NHS services. Hedges is the Labour Assembly Member (AM) for Swansea East and was previously the leader of City & County of Swansea local authority.

As he points out, unless adequate council-provided support or building adaptions are in place then patients are often unable to be discharged from hospital. Proper council-run homecare services can reduce the need for hospital provision in the first place. Good leisure services contribute to overall health and are therefore an important illness preventative measure. Councils are responsible for maintaining standards in everything from food hygiene to quality of the roads and therefore play a big part in maintaining health and well-being in the communities they serve.

Hedges is worried that the Labour Welsh Government may cut funding for local authorities to pay for any increases in funding for the NHS in Wales arising from the review of NHS spending recently declared by his colleague, the Health Minister, Mark Drakeford. As he points out, spending on the NHS and local authorities between them account for more than 70% of the Welsh Government's block grant. And "naturally" he fears that if funding for one is increased, then funding for the other will be reduced.

This is true along as the Welsh Government accepts funding cuts imposed on them by the Con-Dems in Westminster. This is exactly what Welsh Labour does and their role therefore is little more than trying to find the 'best' way to pass on Con-Dem cuts.

Hedges doesn't challenge this acceptance of Con-Dem cuts by his party; witness the first sentence in his article, "As we approach the start of another Welsh budget and a further reduction in the block grant by the Westminster Government, then cuts in public services are inevitable." He can't therefore provide any solutions to the "spending dilemmas of the Welsh Government" (the title of his article) - how to increase spending on health without reducing spending on local authority and other essential services. He suggests that there are "efficiencies" to be found, mostly from cutting jobs in local government but these can't deliver the cuts needed to stay within budget.

There is only one way out of this dilemma - to refuse to accept Con-Dem cuts. Socialist Party Wales demands that the Welsh Government does just that. We demand that they set a 'needs budget'. This means that the starting point has to be the services that the predominantly working class communities of Wales need not what the 23 millionaires in the Con-Dem cabinet, acting on behalf of their friends the bosses and banksters, say they're willing to give us. 

To win the needed funds from the Con-Dems would require the mobilisation of the mass of the working class in Wales in a campaign that would employ mass methods of strike action and civil disobedience. Not any easy road to take but explained properly, we believe it could really fire the enthusiasm of trade unionists and working class communities. The alternative - carrying out Con-Dem cuts, as Welsh Labour does, is not acceptable.

No party represented in the Assembly has the confidence in working class people or the will to take such a stand. That's why Socialist Party Wales is helping to build the Trade Unionist & Socialist Coalition (TUSC) Wales. The 9.6% achieved by Socialist Party Wales member, Jaime Davies, securing third place for TUSC Wales in a council by-election in Penyrheol yesterday, ahead of the Tories, is evidence of the base we are building. We appeal to all trade unionists, NHS campaigners and anybody who wants to see their elected representatives fight for the services we need, instead of making cuts, to join us.

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