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Chancellor’s approach to the economy does not go far enough – First Minister
Carwyn Jones highlighted the Welsh Government’s concerns about predictions for growth, the impact on the most vulnerable in our society the welfare reform changes will have and proposals for public sector pay. He called on Ministers in London to again re-think their approach.
The First Minister said:
"The Chancellor’s statement confirms once again that the UK Government’s policies are just not working and they are very worrying for everyone in Wales. The independent Office of Budget Responsibility has forecast that growth will be less than 1% this year and next. The Chancellor has also ignored the OBR’s forecasts of continuing increases in unemployment and the impact this will have on families and communities across Wales and the UK.
"There is no escaping that the economy is close to returning to recession. The Chancellor says his plan aims to bring down public debt, but his own figures show that borrowing and debt will be higher than previously forecast and will take longer to repay. The books won't be balanced before the next general election and austerity in public spending will continue until at least 2016 or 17 This paints a worrying picture of the outlook for Wales and the challenge we continue to face in delivering public services and protecting the economy.
"We have been pressing the UK Government for more action to boost the economy and increase investment for the last 18 months but this response falls short of what is needed. It is good that the Chancellor has recognised the importance of infrastructure, an argument we have repeatedly made and on which we have made marked progress. We welcome the £216 million capital consequential we will see for our budget as this will be important as we develop our own Wales Infrastructure Investment Plan. We look forward to receiving further details on the revenue consequential in due course.
"Some welcome steps have been announced, quite a lot of which we are already doing in Wales, from more support for early years, boosting employment support for young people and increased education funding targeted at those children who could benefit most from our help.
"I am pleased the Chancellor has committed to working with us to improve the M4, bring about extra capital investment, credit easing to help small businesses and the extension of the business rates relief. But I am afraid it is not enough and it should have been done earlier.
"The proposals outlined are simply not the right combination we need to create the growth we desperately need. The clock is ticking and the Chancellor does not have the luxury of sticking to his plan as people lose their jobs and incomes are squeezed."