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Reading can 'unlock the door to lifelong creativity'

Reading can help lead to creativity, employment and an enjoyment of learning according to the National Union of Headteachers. It comes as a scheme to improve reading standards of 11-year-olds in Wales launches.

Reading well unlocks the door to lifelong creativity, employment and enjoyment of learning. Ten minutes a day is not much to spare a very young child but schools realise that there is much to do in building confidence and commitment in their wider communities. This campaign offers an opportunity to mobilise support for children who most need it and a win for them would be a win for Wales.

– Dr Chris Howard, Acting Director, National Association of Headteachers Cymru (NAHT)

'We must act now' to get more children reading

A campaign to improve the reading standards of children in Wales has been welcomed by Save the Children. The head of the charity in Wales said every child should be "given a fair and equal chance to learn to read well".

Children reading books Credit: PA

We must act now to change the story for our children in Wales. Read On. Get On. is about everyone coming together to write the next chapter and making sure that every child is to be given a fair and equal chance to learn to read well, regardless of their background.

– Mary Powell-Chandler, Head of Save the Children in Wales


Campaign to 'support parents to read with children'

A campaign to improve reading standards among children launches today Credit: PA

The aims of a new campaign to improve the reading standards of 11-year-old in Wales have been set out. The group, Read On. Get On say they aim to "create a nation of strong readers" by:

  • Supporting parents to read with young children for ten minutes a day.
  • Urging the public to volunteer to help disadvantaged children improve their reading.
  • Building a powerful coalition of the most influential public, private and charitable organisations to pledge to support the mission.
  • Urging all political parties to support the 2025 target.

Mission to improve children's reading in Wales launched

A campaign to improve the standard of reading among 11-year-olds in Wales launches today.

It's hoped children's reading abilities can be improved across Wales Credit: PA

The group Read On. Get On, is taking the lead in efforts.

Every year in Wales around 40% of 11-year-olds have a reading age below their chronological age according to a 2010/11 report from Estyn.

Another study by UK Read On.Get On. coalition found that GDP in 2025 could be £32 billion higher if action had been taken to ensure that all children were reading well by the age of 11.

Welsh Government budget: Where is the money going?

The Welsh Government has changed direction on funding the health service. After a series of below inflation increases, the NHS will get an extra £425 million over two years.

It's an above inflation increase, worth an extra 3.2 percent next year. The Welsh Government says it will enable the NHS to transform its services.

But there are further cuts for local councils. Though there's extra money for schools, following a deal between Labour and the Liberal Democrats to get the budget passed.

Our political reporter, Owain Phillips, has been looking at what the budget could mean for the services we all rely on.

"Too little, too late" for NHS say Tories

The Welsh Conservatives claim that the extra money for the NHS in the Welsh budget fails to make up for the cutbacks already imposed on the health service. They also criticised the Liberal Democrats for agreeing to support the Welsh Government's spending proposals.

With shallow promises the Lib Dems are propping up a discredited Labour government, which has run down our NHS and whose incompetent bungling has seen Wales dragging along the bottom of UK league tables in school and economic performance.

The Lib Dems have caved in for less than three quarters of 1% of the Welsh Government’s £15billion annual budget, with shameless commitments, many of which were already in progress, in an attempt to aid their dire electoral prospects.

The Lib Dems have agreed to be Labour’s voting fodder until the next Assembly elections, when voters will cast their judgement on a decade and a half of Labour failure, dithering and underachievement.

– shadow Finance Minister Nick Ramsay AM

Whilst any additional cash for the NHS is to be welcomed this investment is a far cry from the record-breaking amounts that Welsh Labour has cut from the health budget in recent years. It is also too little too late for those who have seen their local hospitals and services closed or downgraded in recent years.

Under Labour, waiting times in Wales have skyrocketed, cancer patients are denied life transforming drugs, our ambulance service is in chaos and our emergency departments haven't met their targets for more than 5 years.

– Shadow Health Minister Darren Millar AM


Budget "short-sighted" say Plaid Cymru

Plaid Cymru has claimed that the Welsh Government's budget proposals for 2015-2016 will create long term problems for the NHS. Plaid have been involved in previous budget deals but refused to negotiate with Labour this year in protest at the plans for an M4 relief road around Newport. The new budget is backed by the Liberal Democrats who also oppose the road scheme. It includes money for design work on the new motorway but if goes ahead, construction work won't start until after the 2016 Assembly election.

Today’s short-sighted budget from the Welsh Government delivers a vicious blow for the services that we rely on. The UK Government’s determination to shrink public services is being continued by the Labour Government in Wales. The Labour party is doing the Tories’ dirty work for them.

Protecting the health budget without protecting the social services that support them is short-sighted, and scaling back social care will only put more pressure on health services in the long run.

Plaid Cymru took the conscious decision to withdraw from budget negotiations because the Welsh Government committed this government, and many governments to come, to the flawed and expensive £1 billion M4 scheme when there were better options available.

The Labour government’s failure to manage budgets has meant that it has been living hand-to-mouth for many years, and this budget is a continuation of that theme.

– Plaid Cymru Finance Spokesperson Alun Ffred Jones AM

Extra NHS money will close funding gap claims minister

Finance Minister Jane Hutt has told AMs that there will be an extra £425 million of extra funding for the NHS over this year and next. She said the additional investment responds "completely and fully" to the funding gap identified by the Nuffield Trust in a report commissioned by the Welsh Government. The Minister said the money would support the NHS "in making the changes it needs to make". She added that although local government would face cuts, councils would not face the same draconian decisions as in England. They would also receive an extra £10 million for social services.

Boost for education in Welsh Government budget deal

The deal includes greater spending on education Credit: PA

The Welsh Government has struck a deal with the Liberal Democrats to secure its budgets until the next assembly election.

The deal means extra spending on education, including plans for an increase in the Pupil Deprivation grant and a concessionary travel fare scheme for 16-18 year olds.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats say nearly 70,000 pupils across Wales will benefit from this investment.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats are committed to giving all children, no matter their background, a fairer start in life. I am delighted that we have increased the value of the grant to be £1,150 per pupil on free school meals.

It is a devastating fact that by the age of five Wales’ poorest pupils are already falling behind. For that reason, I am immensely proud our party’s scheme has now been extended to nursery pupils. We may be the smallest party in the Assembly, but again we are having the biggest impact. We have shown that the Welsh Liberal Democrats remain the party of education.

– Kirsty Williams, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats
  1. Nick Powell

Budget deal's extra £223 million for Lib Dem priorities

The Welsh Government has struck a deal with the Liberal Democrats to secure its budgets until the next assembly election. The agreement, worth £223 million over two years, includes further increases in the grant paid to schools for pupils from deprived backgrounds and will also see the introduction of concessionary travel for 16-18 year olds from September 2015.

There are also a series of pledges on transport, including money for the completion of the Cardiff ring road and a new bridge across the Dyfi at Machynlleth. There will also be a fresh attempt by the Welsh Government to reach agreement with the UK Department of Transport on building the cross-border Llanymynech bypass.

The Lib Dems oppose the planned M4 relief motorway around Newport but have agreed that a contract will be let for design work prior to an environmental assessment and a public inquiry. Construction work will not start before the 2016 Assembly election. The agreement does not mention health, which Labour ministers have identified as a priority. The Liberal Democrats say that if they had felt greater priority was needed, they would have raised it.

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