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Tuesday, October 07, 2014

More on the Welsh Assembly budget

Over at Wales Eye, political commentator Daran Hill outlines the significance of the recent two year budget deal between the Welsh Liberal Democrats and the Welsh Government. He says that the deal proves that the Liberal Democrats are not as irrelevant in Wales as their critics sometimes allege:

But there are four stand-out elements.

The first is that it is a two year deal.

Such an arrangement between Labour and the Lib Dems was a tactically clever move for both parties, giving the government financial stability, and the Lib Dems something to smile about for a change.

Secondly, the value of the Lib Dems extraction from Labour at £223m over two years, is considerably more than they might have got considering Labour were only actually negotiating with them this time around.

Money is a key factor.

In 2011 they only secured a little over £50m, which was comparable with the £35m gained by Plaid in their 2012 deal with Labour.

Indeed, it was only last year, when Plaid and the Lib Dems worked together, that they secured a six figure concession, or around £100m from Labour.

The fact that the Lib Dems have exceeded this previous high watermark, and done so for the next two years, is a significant achievement.

The third noticeable element is that the money is to be spent on further increasing the Pupil Deprivation Grant for Wales.

This is exactly the same priority as that set out in 2011 and 2013, meaning that for four out of five years of the current assembly the Lib Dems can point to a single policy initiative they have consistently funded.

This narrative is one they are now able to return to time and time again.The fourth and final point, is the non-money pledge which the Lib Dems screwed out of the Welsh government.

As part of their 2014-16 budget deal with Labour, the Lib Dems secured the following commitment: "an agreement that no construction of the M4 relief road will start before the next assembly elections and a detailed Environmental Impact Study into the project will be commissioned".

He concludes on the M4 that by not walking away and instead playing the game, the Lib Dems have managed to put the brakes on an initiative which aims to alleviate the use of breaks.

It is nice to be appreciated.
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