Tuesday March 28 2017
Neil Hamilton, AM for Mid & West Wales & UKIP Group Leader in the Senedd, is calling on the UK Government to cut its foreign aid budget to release more funds for vital front line NHS services in Wales.
This comes following an announcement yesterday that four out of seven Health Boards in Wales would not meet their budgets and the Welsh Government has confirmed that it will not bail them out.
For the 2016-17 financial year, the deficit for Betsi Cadwaladr is forecast to be £30m; Hywel Dda £49.9m; Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board (ABMU) £35m and Cardiff & Vale £31m - a massive total of £146M.
The UK Government currently spends 0.7% of Gross National Income (GNI) on foreign aid, a target enshrined in law and which UKIP are calling to be repealed.
As a consequence of this target, based on public sector borrowing, every person in Wales has at least £22,000 debt hanging over their head.
UKIP believes the overseas aid budget must be extensively cut to reduce the mounting debt on every citizen in the UK.
Neil Hamilton said:
“If we did this then, on a per capita basis, Wales would be the recipient of £400m as a result of a reducing foreign aid.
“Overseas aid, not spent on humanitarian crises, should end so we no longer support, for example, Pakistan which spends 3.6% of its GNI on defence, including its own space programme, in contrast to the UK’s 2% defence spend. We are the only member of the G7 which has been hitting the overseas aid target of 0.7% GNI. Even the EU fails to hit its own targets.
“UKIP believes we should cut £8 billion off the UK’s foreign aid budget so NHS Wales could spend their share of this additional funding on vital front line services, ensuring the Health Service is accessible and free at the point of delivery for all. We want to see Welsh taxpayers’ money being spent on more hospital beds, more GPs and improved front line services.
“This is becoming an increasingly serious matter. Betsi Cadwaladr has been in special measures, under the direct control of the Welsh Government, since June 2015 and the other three boards were also brought to the attention of the Government last September, following concerns about their financial management.
“The real worry is what this means for people living in the areas covered by these Health Boards because vital services, which they should be able to expect of right, are increasingly being adversely affected.
“Urgent remedial help needs to be given to the four Health Boards with problems. If three Boards can manage their budgets then surely their expertise should be used to help the others.
“Fundamentally, however, the NHS in Wales is under funded and the time is vastly overdue for the UK Government to look critically at how and where they are spending our money.