First Minister Accused of Serious Political Misjudgement over Finance Appointment

Plaid Cymru MP Jonathan Edwards has accused the Welsh Government First Minister of a serious political misjudgement following the re-appointment of Jane Hutt as Finance Minister. Mr Edwards said that the Finance Minister has a record of incompetence within the portfolio and that Wales could ill afford complacency in key posts at a time when the Welsh Government budget faces over 11% cuts in real terms. Mr Edwards said the appointment unmasked the vacuity of Labour’s election narrative of standing up for Wales, as the Finance Minister has failed to fight Wales’ corner against Westminster.

Mr Edwards said:

“This appointment is a significant political misjudgement by Carwyn Jones. Labour fought the election on the basis of Standing up for Wales, yet one of his top appointments has a dreadful record of winning against Westminster.

“As Finance Minister, Jane Hutt has an appalling record of failure. She has failed to stand up for Wales in demanding reform of the Barnett formula when her own party was in power in London; she has failed to renegotiate the plunder of £100m per year from Wales via the Housing Revenue Account Subsidy Scheme; and she was totally outwitted by the UK Government over the End of Year Flexibility issue which cost the people of Wales the best part of £400m – at a time when the Scottish SNP Government reduced its clawback from over £800m to just £23m. She has lost every major fight with the Treasury.

“In the run-up to the election, the Institute for Welsh Affairs heavily criticised Jane Hutt for her handling of the budget and finance portfolio – yet only a few weeks later she is back in post. This highlights the lack of talent in the Labour ranks and shows how difficult it will be for them to run a Labour-only administration.

“Wales is facing serious financial problems over the Spending Review period. The CSR cut the Welsh block grant by over 11% in real terms, an accumulative £5bn over the next four years. Dealing with cut backs of that scale is going to be an enormous political challange, and Wales can ill afford to have incompetent Ministers in key posts.

“Carwyn Jones is taking the people of Wales for fools for reappointing a Finance Minister with this sort of record and perhaps underlines his arrogant political style.”

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