The budget has been subjected to robust and challenging scrutiny throughout the whole process and I am confident that this final budget offers help where it is needed most.
The budget allows us to continue to develop the One Wales agenda, and prioritises extra funding for key areas such as health, education and transport. The budget has been produced in the most challenging economic climate since the Assembly began in 1999. Average real terms budget growth is forecast to be 1.8% per year between 2007 and 2011 – well below the average of 5.5% for the first eight years of the Assembly’s life. However, the Welsh Assembly Government is investing an additional £3.6bn in the period 2008-09 to 2010-11, with the total annual budget rising to almost £16bn – more than twice the original Assembly Government budget of £7bn in 1999.
The challenges we currently face are global in nature and the Assembly Government is taking steps to help the people of Wales through these tough economic times. We have already taken action in a number of areas to help people where it matters most and are making good progress despite the tough financial conditions. Through robust prioritisation, strong planning and partnership working we have generated efficiencies and identified new approaches for delivering better services.
I have said consistently that it is outcomes delivered by our investment which are crucial for our citizens, not levels of funding. Progress is being made, but we must secure more effective and efficient delivery of services – every pound we spend must count. The people of Wales expect nothing less.
9 December 2008