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Burns: Labour-Plaid budget fails Wales

Speech to the National Assembly for Wales.

"I thank the Minister for his motion, but my colleagues and I are totally unable to support it. I trust that he will not be surprised at that, given that the Welsh Conservatives have clearly and consistently highlighted the budget's poverty of ambition and the sub-standard budgeting process that has been employed.

The difference between the final budget and the draft budget is negligible. Of course, we welcome any increase in the local government settlement budget, because, after all, we highlighted what a poor, politically motivated settlement it was in the original proposal and the Welsh Local Government Association agreed with that assessment.

There are troubling times ahead of us, with global fiscal uncertainty and the credit crunch. Individuals are feeling the pressure in a way that they have not done for many years. Consumers are worried—just look at the Christmas trading figures.

Now, those same people will face higher council tax bills, and why? It is because the Government believes that it has developed an ambitious programme that it can deliver merely using the twin funding streams of Treasury money and efficiency savings, and that is nonsense. The programme of Government, instead of recognising the poor settlement that we have received.

Instead of recognising the poor settlement that we have received from Westminster and concentrating that money on frontline services, it is supporting Plaid's gimmicks and is not even funding those fully.

After the miserable increase in the local government settlement of a paltry £4.7 million—and this is a Government that has given the Wales Millennium Centre £13.5 million—the professionals at the coalface, who know how it really is, are still not happy. We, on this side of the Chamber, understand that.

Indeed, Minister, saying that they are unhappy that is an understatement. I suggest that what they are feeling is desperate. How will they deliver all of these services that you and your fellow Ministers want them to deliver with the money that they are being given? I remind everyone that, as a percentage, the money that they are getting is far less than the percentage that the Government is keeping to implement its own centrist policies.

The WLGA believes that you have a new profession as a window dresser, and states quite emphatically that, despite it all, this is the worst settlement since devolution. It remains well below inflation and barely matches the teachers' pay rise. Local government faces an appalling choice: to cut services, raise council tax, or do both.

Of course I noted the additional sums for smaller class sizes, but it seems self-defeating to pour so much money into reducing class sizes for three to seven-year-olds when the 14 to 19-year-old bracket is so under-funded. Again, there is nothing like the concentration of money required for further education.

The Webb review makes it abundantly clear that we are not investing anything like the sums of money that England, Scotland and Northern Ireland are investing in their young people and in the futures of their countries. We will be left behind. Our 11-year-olds will have laptops, but their schools might be closing or falling down around their ears.

Funding for further education and, indeed, school buildings, used to be one of Plaid Cymru's mantras, but it is conspicuously silent now.

Minister, I mentioned two twin funding streams. You said that the 'One Wales' programme is also to be delivered by efficiency savings. On Guy Fawkes Day, you promised a bonfire of inefficiencies and to get rid of duplication and red tape.

However, once again, it is the councils and the health service that will be asked to bear the brunt of efficiency savings: they are the frontline organisations that are continually being pushed to make further savings. It is a misnomer, so let us say what it is: sacking staff, cutting services and providing much less for more and more people. If you are really looking to cut governmental waste and to make efficiency savings, I would stand by you.

However, it transpires that your statement on a bonfire of inefficiencies was not news, but rather old news polished up and repackaged. We all thought that it meant savings of a further £600 million, but it transpires that you were talking about the 'Making the Connections' efficiency targets that were already in place. I thought that you meant more, as did the WLGA, and as did the chief executives of councils and health services that I have met, but you did not.

So, the 'One Wales' programme of government will be fully deliverable, madcap ideas and all, on just the money from Her Majesty's Treasury, because, after all, we do not have the Barnett consequential. I cannot wait to see it.

In the past, you have lamented that no-one has put forward credible alternatives to any strands of your budget, but we have—the WLGA, some of the Assembly committees and the Welsh Conservatives have done so.

For example, take your proposal that amounts to £15 for every pensioner: we proposed £100 for every pensioner, and we detailed exactly how we would get it and that did not involve making swingeing cuts to other services. We did not propose draconian efficiency savings.

Plaid Cymru knows that this budget does not do the people of Wales a great service—we know it, the Liberal Democrats know it, and I suspect that some of your backbenchers know it. So I ask you to examine your conscience and force the Government to think through its programme of Government for the next few years, and vote against the motion."

"Diolch i'r Gweinidog am ei gynnig, ond mae fy nghyd-aelodau a mi'n gwbl analluog i'w gefnogi. Hyderaf na fydd yn synnu at hynny, o gofio bod Ceidwadwyr Cymru'n glir ac yn gyson wedi tanlinellu diffyg uchelgais y gyllideb a'r broses gyllidebu is-safonol a ddefnyddiwyd. Nid oes fawr ddim gwahaniaeth rhwng y gyllideb derfynol a'r gyllideb ddrafft.

Wrth gwrs, croesawn unrhyw gynnydd yng nghyllideb setliad llywodraeth leol, oherwydd, wedi'r cwbl, buom yn tanlinellu setliad mor wael, â chymhellion gwleidyddol, ydoedd yn y cynnig gwreiddiol, a chytunodd Cymdeithas Llywodraeth Leol Cymru â'r asesiad hwnnw.

Diolch i'r Gweinidog am ei gynnig, ond mae fy nghyd-aelodau a mi'n gwbl analluog i'w gefnogi. Hyderaf na fydd yn synnu at hynny, o gofio bod Ceidwadwyr Cymru'n glir ac yn gyson wedi tanlinellu diffyg uchelgais y gyllideb a'r broses gyllidebu is-safonol a ddefnyddiwyd. Nid oes fawr ddim gwahaniaeth rhwng y gyllideb derfynol a'r gyllideb ddrafft.

Wrth gwrs, croesawn unrhyw gynnydd yng nghyllideb setliad llywodraeth leol, oherwydd, wedi'r cwbl, buom yn tanlinellu setliad mor wael, â chymhellion gwleidyddol, ydoedd yn y cynnig gwreiddiol, a chytunodd Cymdeithas Llywodraeth Leol Cymru â'r asesiad hwnnw.

Mae amserau trafferthus o'n blaenau, gydag ansicrwydd ariannol byd-eang a'r argyfwng credyd. Mae unigolion yn teimlo'r pwysau mewn ffordd na theimlwyd ers blynyddoedd lawer. Mae cwsmeriaid yn poeni—edrychwch ar ffigurau masnachu'r Nadolig. Yn awr, bydd yr un bobl hynny'n wynebu biliau treth gyngor uwch, a pham?

Am fod y Llywodraeth yn credu ei bod wedi datblygu rhaglen uchelgeisiol y gall ei chyflawni dim ond drwy ddefnyddio ffrydiau ariannu deuol arian y Trysorlys ac arbedion effeithlonrwydd, a lol yw hynny. Mae rhaglen y Llywodraeth, yn lle cydnabod y setliad gwael a gawsom.

Yn lle cydnabod y setliad gwael a gawsom oddi wrth San Steffan a chanolbwyntio'r arian hwnnw ar wasanaethau rheng flaen, mae'n cefnogi gimigau Plaid ac nid yw hyd yn oed yn ariannu'r rheini'n llawn.

Ar ôl y cynnydd truenus o £4.7 miliwn pitw yn setliad llywodraeth leol—a Llywodraeth yw hon a roddodd £13.5 miliwn i Ganolfan Mileniwm Cymru—mae'r gweithwyr proffesiynol ar ffas y glo, sy'n gwybod sut y mae hi go iawn, yn dal yn anhapus. Yr ydym ni, ar yr ochr hon i'r Siambr, yn deall hynny.

Yn wir, Weinidog, mae dweud eu bod yn anhapus yn ddweud rhy ychydig. Awgrymaf mai anobaith yw'r teimlad sydd ganddynt. Sut y gwnânt ddarparu'r holl wasanaethau hyn yr ydych chi a'ch cyd Weinidogion yn dymuno iddynt eu darparu gyda'r arian a roddir iddynt? Atgoffaf bawb fod yr arian y maent yn ei gael, fel canran, yn llawer llai na'r ganran y mae'r Llywodraeth yn ei chadw i weithredu'i pholisïau canolbleidiol ei hunan.

Cred Cymdeithas Lywodraeth Leol Cymru fod gennych swydd newydd fel addurnwr ffenestri, a dywed yn hollol bendant, er gwaethaf popeth, mai dyma'r setliad gwaethaf ers datganoli. Mae'n llawer llai na chwyddiant a phrin y mae'n ddigon i dalu codiad cyflog yr athrawon. Mae llywodraeth leol yn wynebu dewis erchyll: cwtogi gwasanaethau, codi'r dreth gyngor, neu wneud y ddeubeth.

Wrth gwrs, sylwais ar y symiau ychwanegol ar gyfer dosbarthiadau llai, ond mae'n ymddangos mai cam gwag yw tywallt cymaint o arian i mewn i leihau maint dosbarthiadau i blant tair i saith mlwydd oed pan mae cymaint o ddiffyg cyllid ar gyfer y garfan 14 i 19 mlwydd oed.

Eto, ni cheir dim byd tebyg i'r crynodiad arian sy'n angenrheidiol ar gyfer addysg bellach. Mae adolygiad Webb yn datgan yn berffaith glir nad ydym yn buddsoddi unrhyw beth tebyg i'r symiau o arian y mae Lloegr, yr Alban a Gogledd Iwerddon yn eu buddsoddi yn eu pobl ifanc ac yn nyfodol eu gwledydd. Cawn ein gadael ar ôl. Bydd gliniadur gan bob plentyn 11 oed, ond bydd eu hysgolion efallai'n cau neu'n dadfeilio o'u hamgylch. Cyllid ar gyfer addysg bellach ac, yn wir, adeiladau ysgolion, oedd un o brif bregethau Plaid Cymru, ond mae honno'n amlwg yn ei distawrwydd erbyn hyn.

Weinidog, cyfeiriais at ddwy ffrwd ariannu ddeuol. Dywedasoch chi y cyflawnir rhaglen 'Cymru'n Un' hithau drwy arbedion effeithlonrwydd. Ar ddiwrnod Guto Ffowc, gwnaethoch addo cynnau coelcerth o eitemau aneffeithlon ac y caech wared ar ddyblygu a thâp coch.

Fodd bynnag, unwaith eto, ar y cynghorau a'r gwasanaeth iechyd y cwympa baich yr arbedion effeithlonrwydd: dyma sefydliadau'r rheng flaen a gaiff eu gwthio'n barhaus i wneud arbedion pellach. Camliwio yw hynny, felly beth am ei dweud hi fel y mae: diswyddo staff, torri gwasanaethau a darparu llawer llai i fwy a mwy o bobl. Petaech o ddifrif yn edrych i dorri gwastraff llywodraethol a gwneud arbedion effeithlonrwydd, buaswn yn sefyll gyda chi.

Fodd bynnag, mae'n amlwg bellach nad newydd oedd eich datganiad am goelcerth o eitemau aneffeithlon, ond yn hytrach hen newydd wedi'i sgleinio a'i ailbecynnu. Yr oeddem ni i gyd yn meddwl ei fod yn golygu arbed £600 miliwn ymhellach, ond gwelwn yn awr mai sôn yr oeddech am dargedau effeithlonrwydd 'Creu'r Cysylltiadau' a oedd eisoes yn eu lle. Yr oeddwn i'n credu eich bod yn golygu mwy, fel y credai'r Gymdeithas Lywodraeth Leol, ac fel y credai'r prif weithredwyr cynghorau a gwasanaethau iechyd yr wyf fi wedi cwrdd â hwy, ond nid felly yr oedd hi.

Felly, bydd rhaglen lywodraeth 'Cymru'n Un' yn un y gellir ei gweithredu'n llawn, gan gynnwys ei syniadau gwallgof, ar yr arian a gawn oddi wrth Drysorlys Ei Mawrhydi'n unig, oherwydd, wedi'r cyfan, nid oes gennym elfen ganlyniadol Barnett. Yr wyf yn ysu i'w weld.

Yn y gorffennol, yr ydych wedi galarnadu nad oes neb wedi cynnig dewisiadau amgen credadwy i unrhyw rannau o'ch cyllideb, ond yr ydym ni wedi gwneud—mae'r Gymdeithas Lywodraeth Leol, rhai o bwyllgorau'r Cynulliad a Cheidwadwyr Cymru wedi gwneud. Er enghraifft, cymerwch eich cynnig sy'n gyfystyr â £15 i bob pensiynwr; cynigiasom £100 i bob pensiynwr, a rhoesom fanylion sut yn union y bwriadem ei gael ac nid oedd hynny'n golygu cwtogi'n llym ar wasanaethau eraill. Nid oeddem yn cynnig arbedion effeithlonrwydd didostur.

Gwyr Plaid Cymru nad yw'r gyllideb hon yn gwneud cymwynas fawr â phobl Cymru—gwyddom ni hynny, gwyr y Democratiaid Rhyddfrydol hynny, ac amheuaf y gwyr rhai ar eich meinciau cefn chi hynny. Felly gofynnaf i chi archwilio'ch cydwybod a gorfodi'r Llywodraeth i feddwl drwy ei rhaglen Lywodraeth am yr ychydig flynyddoedd nesaf, a phleidleisio yn erbyn y cynnig."

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