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Welsh Liberal Democrats to vote against draft budget

November 13, 2012 1:00 PM

The Welsh Liberal Democrats will not be supporting the Welsh Labour Government's draft budget today as the party believes that the education spending gap between England and Wales will be exacerbated by the failure to substantially increase the Pupil Premium in Wales in 2013/14.

Last May the Welsh Liberal Democrats agreed to support the Welsh Labour Government's budget on the basis that increased funding would go towards the most disadvantaged pupils, which resulted in the Pupil Premium. The Pupil Premium ensures that additional money will go towards each pupil on free schools meals. The Government, who has praised the idea, has agreed to continue the policy but have refused to increase the funding, unlike in England where it is increased annually. In the current year, the pupil premium is about the same in England as it is in Wales. It will rise to over £1200 per pupil in 2014/15 in England but in Wales it will be about a third of this.

Following negotiations that took place this year, the Welsh Labour Government stated that it is willing to take forward the Welsh Liberal Democrat idea for an Innovative Drugs Fund that will offer Welsh patients access to treatments that are not available routinely through the NHS.

Peter Black, Shadow Minister for Finance, commented:

"This budget does not make progress towards closing the education funding gap with England. The Welsh Liberal Democrats have always maintained that we would not support a budget that doesn't offer further resources for Welsh pupils. For too long, social background has been a deciding factor in a child's achievement and future prospects, whether it be in health, occupation or further higher education.

"We are pleased that the Welsh Labour Government has praised our ideas and pledged to look further into our Innovative Drugs Fund. Welsh patients deserve the right to access treatments that are not available routinely through the NHS, which is why we brought this idea forward. It is also satisfying that it was announced yesterday that our first-time buyers mortgage scheme is to be launched in 2013.

"Whether it be extra money for Wales' poorest pupils, our Innovative Drugs fund, or our mortgage scheme, the Welsh Liberal Democrats are making a massive difference to the lives of the people of Wales. We are the party of ideas. The Welsh Liberal Democrats may not be supporting the draft budget today, but we have ensured that the party's influence will continue to be felt for years to come."

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