Wales Online has interviewed three Welsh Labour leaders, asking: what would you prioritise between the NHS versus council funding?
Wales Online asked the three candidates for the next first minister of the country to choose between the financial demands of councils versus health boards.
The website is running a series of pieces; in this one, Labour’s trio of candidates are questioned on funding for councils and the NHS, when the decision inevitably has to be made.
Millions of pounds are being cut from services in Wales, with the NHS struggling to provide adequate healthcare already.
So, should Wales be matching the spending increases for the NHS that are happening in England? Wales Online asked the potential leaders.
“We already spend more in Wales than England does on health and more when you take account of health and social care combined.
“We have achieved that despite nine hard years of Tory austerity. It has been an incredibly difficult time across public services because of that. I have kept my promises to local government about how I will make choices over the budget.
“That is why there is £30m going direct from health spend into social care next year and £10m immediately in this financial year. I’ve made a commitment to ensure £30m is available for local government and health to spend together.
“I want to reset the relationship between Welsh government and local government. To do that, I pledged to end the cash cuts to local government, reduce restrictions on the money councils spend and ensure councils retain business rates growth within their regional groups. I have also outlined my pledge to create the National Care Service of Wales, delivered by local authorities and paid for using our new tax powers.
“I’ve kept the promises I made as a minister. It’s important that as a government we keep our promises too. I’m confident that, as I have called for, local government will be first in line for the consequential from the UK budget.”
“We should always do what is right for Wales not slavishly follow what England does, that is the point of devolution.
“The public constantly put health at the top of the agenda and we need to respond to that. But in order to take the pressure off health in the long term, the only way to ensure additional funding is to grow the economy and provide better paid jobs in Wales so people can afford to pay more tax to pay for our public services.
“I would prioritise funding for local government for the rest of this Assembly term.
“Our schools, our rubbish collectors our parks and libraries cannot be cut much further without a significant impact on our social infrastructure. The real answer to this is to stop austerity and throw out the Tory government.
“The NHS remains the public service which matters most to people in Wales. Nearly a decade into austerity we remain committed to providing the funding needed to sustain the health service in Wales.
“But we have always invested in the system in the round, recognising that spending on social care is essential to the NHS.
“If local authorities in Wales were subjected to the same level of cuts facing councils in England they would be facing cuts of £65m in Wales. We have already made sure that this is not the case.”