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Government announces £100M budget deal

One Million Pounds SterlingTHE WELSH Government this week announced a £100 million budget deal that seeks to break the link between poverty and educational attainment.
In a joint statement from Carwyn Jones, First Minister, Leanne Wood, Leader of Plaid Cymru, and Kirsty Williams, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, the budget was explained to The Herald,
“Two major challenges facing Wales will be addressed in the forthcoming Draft Welsh Government Budget, in an unprecedented £100m agreement between the Welsh Labour Government, Plaid Cymru and the Welsh Liberal Democrats.
‘’The commitment to break the link between poverty and educational attainment is reflected in this agreement, with a £35m boost to the Pupil Deprivation Grant which is acknowledged as a vitally important tool in achieving this goal.
‘’The announcement of £50m for an innovative new Intermediate Care Fund meets a major challenge of this Draft Budget. This fund will be used to bring about changes that need to be made to both health and social care in revenue and capital investment.
It will allow more co-ordinated and joined up care to be provided to support independent living and secure the best decision making for the lives of people, who need health, housing and social services”.
Commenting on the education aspect of the budget, William Powell, Welsh Liberal Democrat said: ‘’I am delighted to announce that schools in Pembrokeshire will be getting an extra £2,507,058 thanks to the Welsh Liberal Democrats who came to an agreement with the Welsh Labour Government that, in exchange for supporting the Welsh Government’s annual budget, schools will receive millions of pounds of extra investment through a ‘Pupil Deprivation Grant’ – a Welsh version of the ‘Pupil Premium’ in England.”
He continued: “The Welsh Liberal Democrats created this grant because we want to give every child a fairer start in life.Too often children from poorer backgrounds fall behind in school even at an early age. We want to put an end to this inequality.
‘’In doing so, we will be raising standards in our schools for all pupils across Wales. Helping poorer pupils was a key pledge in the Welsh Liberal Democrat’s 2011 manifesto. We appreciate how important education is to creating a fairer society. Sadly, schools in Wales have suffered from years of under-investment from the Welsh Labour Government. Today we are taking big steps to change that”.
Plaid Cymru Shadow Education Minister, Simon Thomas, praised the proposed budget deal with the Welsh Government: “This deal follows last year’s agreement between Plaid Cymru and the Welsh Government over apprenticeships. We are, yet again, prioritising skills and education this year. The £35m package to target the poorest pupils in our schools is welcome. Plaid Cymru is focusing on breaking the link between educational attainment and deprivation”.
Speaking on behalf of the Conservative Group on the Welsh Assembly, Paul Davies, AM for Preseli Pembrokeshire, said: “While we welcome any additional money for Welsh schools, at the moment too much of the Welsh Labour Government’s education budget is eaten up in local education authority bureaucracy and fails to reach the classroom.
‘’Welsh Conservatives would directly fund schools, which could improve the pupil-teacher ratio and increase the range of learning materials and IT equipment available in our classrooms to help young people achieve their potential.”