Wales

Welsh government's £15bn budget is approved

Money
Image caption The Welsh budget is worth around £15bn

The Welsh government's £15bn budget for next year has been approved at the Senedd.

The minority Labour government struck a deal worth around £100m with Plaid Cymru and the Welsh Liberal Democrats to get the budget passed.

The Conservatives accused the other opposition parties of propping up a "failing Labour government".

Finance Minister Jane Hutt told AMs it was not possible to "shield" all services from UK government cuts.

She said: "Our final budget has been shaped by the Welsh government's priorities for Wales, which has been set in the context of the most difficult financial times since devolution - the total Welsh budget in 2015-16 will be 10% lower in real terms than in 2010-11.

"Despite these challenges, we are determined to promote and progress policies which boost growth and jobs, protect our health service and invest in our children and young people, and this is reflected in our spending plans."

The NHS in Wales will receive an extra £570m over three years but money for local government will fall by 5.81%.

Free school meals

Labour has 30 of the 60 seats in the assembly so did not have a majority in order to win the budget vote.

However the plans were certain to pass following a deal reached in October.

Some £50m will be spent on a fund to treat more patients in the community rather than in hospitals - a key Plaid Cymru demand - while the Lib Dems secured £35m to increase the value of the pupil deprivation grant paid to schools which have pupils eligible for free school meals.

Earlier Plaid Cymru and the Liberal Democrats had defended the decision to sign a deal with Labour.

Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood said she was "confident we've made the right decision", and said it did not follow there would be a further deal to cover the following year's budget.

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