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Welsh Liberal Democrats target waste to prioritise education and jobs

2011 Ionawr 18 1:26 PM

The Welsh Liberal Democrats will today propose key amendments to the Labour-Plaid Cymru budget that would focus the budget on building a new Welsh economy based on high quality jobs and improving education. The Welsh Liberal Democrat amendments would establish:

  • A Welsh Pupil Premium, targeting additional funding for education at the most disadvantaged pupils in Wales from nursery to age 16. Schools will be able to decide for themselves how best to spend the fund. It could be used to reduce class sizes, hold after-school activities, catch-up classes or pay for classroom assistants.
  • A Jobs and Growth Innovation Fund to help Wales build a modern, entrepreneurial economy for the future, based on high-tech jobs and new ideas. The Innovation Fund will be used to invest in schemes such as a business-graduate mentoring scheme, encouraging universities to patent ideas and capitalise on them.

The resources needed to fund these commitments have been identified by:

  • Scrapping the Ieuan Air Internal North South Air Link
  • Cutting bureaucracy associated with ring fenced grants for local government
  • Reducing reserves to the level recommended (but not adhered to) by WAG
  • Scrapping unallocated funding streams
  • Eradicating duplication by restructuring the environmental bodies such as the Environment Agency, Countryside Council for Wales and Forestry Commission.

In addition, the Welsh Liberal Democrats would launch an investigation into evidence given to the Finance Committee that that there is up to £1bn of the NHS budget "that we are not utilising appropriately";

Commenting Kirsty Williams AM, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats said:

The Labour-Plaid government has consistently failed Wales, allowing living standards, schooling and healthcare to fall behind England. In particular, they have allowed a funding gap of over £500 to open up between English school children and children in Wales. We need a government that can achieve more with less; not one that achieves less with more.

Wales deserves better. The Welsh Liberal Democrats budget prioritises the two areas that can make a real difference to the Welsh economy now and in the future; education and jobs. This is the way that we will ensure growth in the Welsh economy and provide the high skilled jobs that we need.

Peter Black, the Welsh Liberal Democrat Shadow Finance Minister said:

The Welsh Liberal Democrats recognise that times are tough. As every family and business looks for savings, the Welsh Government needs to do likewise. By rooting out waste and inefficiency we have identified the resources needed to target money at the poorest children in Wales who have been so let down over the last decade.

The priority for Welsh Liberal Democrats is to make the efficiency savings in the NHS that allow us to protect and improve frontline services. We would launch an immediate investigation into the £1 billion of NHS money that is currently being wasted and redirect any savings into front line services to improve healthcare.

The Conservatives foolish pledge to protect bureaucracy and senior mangers pay in the NHS by slashing education, economic development, transport, rural affairs housing, local government and social services will pose severe risks to the Welsh economy and threaten services that are already under pressure.