Wednesday, 31 August 2011
The Welsh Assembly Government today published a report on Wales’s most deprived communities. Top of this most depressing of leagues, remains Rhyl West and second and third are St James and Twyn Carno in Caerffili.
The Council with most deprived areas remains Merthyr Tydfil followed by Blaenau Gwent and Rhondda Cynon Taff.
It is the intention of Government to take into account this Welsh Index of Multiple Deprivation when determining priorities in resource allocation.
It is a truism to say that to tackle the complex problems of these areas of deprivation you need cash and imagination. Well, the “cash” is certainly in short supply and the jury is still out on ”imagination.”
By an accident of timing the Treasury also produced a report yesterday under the sexy title of Public Expenditure Statistical Analyses. OK, not the lightest of reads, but it does indicate that Northern Ireland and Scotland are doing nicely out of the Union and Wales lags behind.
The block grant to the countries should be based on need. But there hasn’t been a needs assessment for some considerable time. Indeed, it was when Cardiff’s own Prime Minister, James Callaghan, had the top job over 32 years ago that it was last looked at. Little wonder then, that Wales is being short changed.
But will things change? Well, the government have promised to look at Wales’s funding. Those in the bubble call it Calman Cymru, following a similar look at Scotland’s finances by the Calman Commission there.
It is unlikely though that things will change soon and a more equitable system introduced. Why, well in a nutshell “independence.”
The prospect of a referendum campaign in Scotland on whether to rip up the Act of Union with England or not, will ensure that Mr Cameron will not wish to be seen cutting back on support to Scotland at such a sensitive time.
So Mr Salmond is in that happy of political situations of a win, win situation. A chance to win his most cherished of ambitions – independence or the consolation prize of considerable more powers over finance and still a very healthy subsidy from the Treasury.
And what of Wales? Languishing. Dealing with communities with multiple deprivations without the resources to tackle them. Oh, yes the poor will always be with us. Well, in Wales at least.