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From: The Socialist issue 689, 12 October 2011: Cameron’s big ‘them and us’ society

Search site for keywords: Wales - Budget - Labour - Wales Assembly - Cuts - Education

Wales Assembly budget: Labour piles on the misery

Edmund Schluessel

The Welsh Labour-led government's 2012-2013 draft budget, published on 4 October is the second one in a row to cut Welsh public services. It proposes 12.2% cuts to education, 3% cuts to the NHS and an average of 6% cuts to environment, housing and fire services.

An 8.2% cut to higher education support calls into question how long the Welsh government intend to keep their promise of lower tuition fees in Wales.

Funding for workers' literacy and numeracy programmes has been halved, as has money for the poor to access post-16 education. Anticipating this slashing of support for education, Youth Fight for Education, involving students from half of Wales' universities, have organised a demonstration and an All-Wales Student Assembly against education cuts on 21-22 October. Activists from Wales will be leaving from the Assembly to join the new Jarrow March for the week of 24 October and will be supporting the rally welcoming the march in London on 5 November.

A 5% real-terms cut to local government will give councils across Wales an excuse to sack thousands more workers. While some trade union branches are already taking steps toward industrial action against the cuts, public sector unions Unison and GMB can no longer make apologies for a Welsh government that takes its members' money and yet acts completely against those members' interests.

In the whole budget there is only one winner: big business which will receive £10 million in handouts through "enterprise zones", £4 million for incinerators and an additional £1.7 million through "encouraging innovation".

The government will claim, as Thatcher did 25 years ago, that "there is no alternative" to the cuts. The Socialist Party has always put forward an alternative, based on struggle, tested and proven in Liverpool council in the 1980s: defy Cameron and Clegg, set a budget based on need and hand the bill to Westminster.

If Labour in the Assembly put half the effort into such a fighting programme as they do into making excuses for implementing cuts, Wales would have all the money it needed to create jobs and build a sustainable, productive economy. They, alone and in partnership with Plaid Cymru, have failed to do so. Welsh Labour have written the budget of the Welsh government; but only a new, mass workers' party can write a Welsh budget that represents the interests of the working class of Wales.

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