Plans for severe spending cuts in Scotland and Wales have been revealed in draft budgets for next year.
A public sector pay freeze and new savings targets have been unveiled by the Scottish government, while the Welsh Assembly government has laid out what it described as the toughest budget since devolution.
In Wales, spending on health and social services – the administration’s biggest item of expenditure – will be frozen at around £6bn until 2012-13. In real terms, this means a cut of 6.3% after inflation.
The governing Labour-Plaid Cymru coalition said it would stand by the most needy when it published spending plans worth some £14.5bn a year, with the NHS presented as the main beneficiary of the budget.
The draft budget was the last before May’s elections and the first since the administration’s funding was cut from £15bn by the comprehensive spending review (CSR).
In Scotland, finance secretary John Swinney said he is dealing with the toughest challenge since devolution, and identified cuts worth £1.3bn.
A pay freeze, which had been widely expected in advance of the statement, was also revealed for public sector employees earning £21,000 a year or more.
The move applies to Scottish government staff, as well as those working in government agencies and non-departmental public bodies. Staff earning below the threshold will receive a minimum increase of £250.
Swinney also pledged to fund the full removal of prescription charges.
Copyright © Press Association 2010