Kirsty Williams writes… The Welsh Pupil Premium

Last week I announced that the Welsh Liberal Democrats will be voting with the Welsh Labour government for the budget on the 6th December.

We have agreed to support the 2012-2013 budget on the basis that we will be introducing a Welsh Pupil Premium.  This means that from April 2012, every child in Wales on free schools meals will recieve an extra £450 of funding – no matter where they live, or what school they go to.  This is a total Pupil Premium spending of £32 million, of which £20 million is brand new money for the education budget.

Some may see this as an attempt to distance ourselves from the Liberal Democrats in Westminster, due to the coalition.  In fact our approach in Wales has been consistent with the Liberal Democrats at a UK level working to find political agreement with our political opponents in order to put Liberal Democrats values and policies into practice.

Nick Clegg has persuaded the Tories in England of the importance of extra funding for our most deprived children.  In Wales, I am pleased that we have now persuaded Labour of the same.  In both cases we have done exactly what we said we would do before the election.

So this isn’t a matter of political branding, it’s a case of the Welsh Liberal Democrats getting the very best deal we can for the people of Wales.  That is what is at stake here.

Agreeing to vote for the Labour government’s budget doesn’t make us a party of the left.  Much like going into coalition with the Conservatives in Westminster doesn’t make us a party of the right.  Our priority is to advance the policies that we fought the election on.

Welsh Liberal Democrats were not elected to the Assembly to turn our backs on the desperate need to improve education funding in Wales or to reject the need to re-boot the Welsh economy and provide training and hope for those without work.

It would have been easier politically to walk away, but the Welsh Liberal Democrats have instead worked with our political opponents to agree a budget for the good of Wales.  We are proud that our influence will make a difference to children in Wales and a welcome boost to the economic recovery.

We may have a small group in the National Assembly, but our influence in these budget negotiations will have a big impact on children’s lives.  Thanks to the Welsh Liberal Democrats, we are making huge steps in starting to break the link, school by school, community by community, between poverty and attainment that has dogged our education system for so long.

But let me be clear, this is purely an agreement about the budget for next year.  With Labour lacking the ‘comfortable majority’ they predicted before the election, the Welsh Liberal Democrats have had the opportunity to influence the direction of our country.  I am proud we have today done this in such a positive way.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds and Wales.
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2 Comments

  • Da iawn Kirsty. Dal ati a phob lwc!

  • >We may have a small group in the National Assembly, but our influence in these budget negotiations will have a big impact on children’s lives.

    Indeed. Excellent result.

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