Tuesday, 29 November 2011
Wales and the Autumn statement.
George Orborne in his Autumn Statement has seemingly declared war on public sector workers in general and on the Welsh public sector workers in particular.
His freezing of pay packets to one per cent will hit all workers in the sector but his proposal to introduce regional wage rates will particularly hit those in Wales. Public sector workers in the country will see their future wage packets considerably smaller than those doing the same job on the other side of Offa's Dyke.
The Chancellor's appeal to the unions to call off tomorrow’s strike can hardly be taken seriously after such announcements. Proposing to cut wages is hardly likely to get public service unions in a reasonable frame of mind to negotiate a deal over pensions.
Why he should set about to alienate the unions without any real gain for the economy is difficult to comprehend? One can only deduce it is ideological rather than a practical economic step.
To dampens UK household expenditure and consequently growth, particularly in the retail sector at such a time makes no practical sense at all. Especially when the Chancellor was forced to concede that the UK risks falling into recession in the coming months and the economy will barely grow next year.
This freeze and the prospect of regional wages will have a disproportionate impact on Wales. A large number of workers employed in the public sector in Wales.
Wales has not done well from George Osborne’s statement. Out of the £30bn UK ‘National’ Infrastructure Plan Wales will only get £216m.
Worryingly the changes to the growth figures in the short term show the the Government’s economic policy is just not delivering. The OBR is now predicting that Britain will expand by just 0.7% in 2012 (down from 2.5% in the March forecasts).
With such low growth figures in Britain, it is almost inevitable that Wales will either be or, maybe is, already in recession. The economy in Wales has always lagged behind the rest of the UK. Last month's unemployment figures showed us as the country that topped this miserable league in the UK
What’s to be done? Well, if the Chancellor has not seen Wales has a high priority, the Welsh Government needs too.
The Welsh government needs to up it’s game. It needs to be far more proactive than hitherto.
Ways have to be found to get more infrastructure development in Wales. If Merseyside can get the Chinese to invest in an Atlantic gateway and other parts of England getting Middle Eastern countries and Asia countries investing in infrastructure projects, why not Wales? Why does Wales seem to miss out on large infrastructure developments?
Look at our record. No Severn Barrage. Not a mile of electric railway track in the country. Abysmal transport links between north and south of the country. No decent airport. The list is endless.
C’mon Carwyn lets get a list of major projects that Wales can take to investors. Let’s not be limited by our lack of ambition. After all your manifesto was “to stand up for Wales.” Now is the time to deliver.