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  1. Nick Powell

Extra money for universities and local councils as some Welsh spending cuts reversed

Finance Minister Jane Hutt has made two major concessions on the spending cuts she announced in December in her draft budget for 2016/17.

The Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW) will get an extra £21 million for universities plus £10 million for part time studies and scientific research. The three local councils hardest hit by cuts -Powys, Ceredigion and Monmouthshire- will get an additional £2.5 million between them.

  • Powys £1.93 million
  • Ceredigion £0.439 million
  • Monmouthshire £0.109 million

Labour does not have an overall majority in the Senedd and the Welsh Government relies on the support of the Liberal Democrats to get its budget passed. The Lib Dems are claiming today's concessions are the result of their influence.

I am delighted that we have secured this agreement. The Welsh Liberal Democrats have been clear from the very beginning that there was absolutely no way we could support these unfair cuts to rural councils. We were also clear that the severe cuts to higher education were completely unacceptable. We have worked with the Finance Minister, local government and the higher education sector to put right issues from the draft budget and we have succeeded.

– Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Kirsty Williams AM

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Wales 'can't afford' any slip-ups

Luke Charteris accepts there can be no margin for error as Wales face a history-making quest to be crowned RBS 6 Nations champions this season.

Credit: David Davies/PA Archive/PA Images

No team has ever won the title after drawing a game, but that is the task now awaiting Wales and Ireland following Sunday's 16-16 draw in Dublin.

Starting next Saturday when Scotland arrive in Cardiff, Wales must realistically win three homes games - France and Italy are also due at the Principality Stadium - and topple England at Twickenham to maintain hopes of finishing top.

We saw last year how close this tournament has been over the last few years. Unfortunately, there is no Grand Slam or Triple Crown to go for now, but we have to knuckle down and get four wins from four.

I saw a bit of the (Scotland versus England) game, and they (Scotland) looked good.

It was a physical game against England - both packs went at it - and they will be a challenge, especially with us having one day less recovery, so we will have to look after ourselves.

– Luke Charteris, Wales lock
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