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£6m to help older people live independently

Credit: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

The Welsh Government has announced a £6 million investment to help older people in Wales live independently in their own home.

It says the funding supports the work of the Care and Repair service. It provides adaptations like ramps, handrails, and safety alarms, to enable older people to live safely in their own homes.

£2 million of the funding is for the Rapid Response Adaptations Programme, which provides minor adaptations to help prevent many people from having to be admitted to hospital.

The Welsh Government says estimates show every pound invested in the programme creates a £7.50 saving for health and social services.

Care and Repair and the Rapid Response Adaptations Programme help transform the lives of more than 40,000 older people across Wales every year.

By providing relatively small home adaptations, these services enable people to continue to live safely in the homes they love with the dignity they deserve.

As people across Wales live longer, healthier lives, such preventative measures play an increasingly important role in supporting our health and social services.

– Lesley Griffiths AM, Minister for Communities and Tackling Poverty


Smacking ban defeated

Assembly Members have voted by 36 to 16 against adding a total ban on smacking children to a bill aimed at combating domestic violence. The Welsh Government argued that it was not the right way to end the defence of "reasonable punishment" by parents. This applies to a "transient or trivial" injury to their children. The call for a ban came from the Labour backbencher Julie Morgan, who defied the Labour whip. She said it was impossible to justify allowing adults to hit children.

Fewer children with tooth decay in Wales

Fewer children in Wales are experiencing tooth decay and overall levels of dental disease are falling, according to the latest report on Designed to Smile - the Welsh Government's national programme to improve children's oral health.

The report found that more children took part in supervised tooth brushing activities at home, with almost 93,000 children taking part - 5,500 more than last year.

More than 91,000 children have benefitted from oral health education sessions in schools. Credit: PA

Six years after the launch of Designed to Smile, children and young people in Wales are seeing the benefits of this programme.

Designed to Smile offers toothbrushing and fluoride varnish programmes for young children in their schools and nurseries; helping children and their families to keep their teeth healthy as they grow older.

Dental health professionals can provide a fissure sealant programme to older children who may need it, as well as advice on how to look after their teeth to prevent problems later on.

– Mark Drakeford AM, Minister for Health and Social Services

New Deeside 'employment site' could create 5,000 jobs

The new highway will be built at Deeside, North Wales Credit: ITV News

Work to kick-start the development of the 'largest strategic employment site' in north Wales - with the potential to create up to 5,000 jobs - has been announced by the First Minister today.

As part of the development, a new multi-million pound road will be built across the 420 acre Northern Gateway site on Deeside Enterprise Zone.

The road will help kick-start the development, effectively opening up the site to release 220 acres of employment land, with the capacity to build 3.1 million square feet of facilities, which, it's hoped, could accommodate up to 5,000 jobs.

The construction of the highway is expected to take around 5 years to complete.

The Northern Gateway is the primary location to attract major new investments to the Enterprise Zone and to the region. Outline planning permission has already been granted for the site but the main barrier has been investment in infrastructure so I am pleased to announce the Welsh Government is now taking this forward.

This is a key piece of infrastructure for the Enterprise Zone which will accelerate development. We want to ensure the potential for the site is unlocked as soon as possible, opening up the largest private sector led development in north Wales.

This is a hugely important project for north Wales with substantial potential to attract new investment and jobs. The access road is the catalyst that will open up the many investment opportunities it represents. We will be appointing consultants to design the road shortly with the aim of submitting planning within the next six months and commencing work on the first phase of the roadway within six months thereafter.

– First Minister Carwyn Jones AM


Crabb hits back at claims of 'gutter politics"

Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb is expected to renew his criticism of school standards in Wales when he makes a speech later. His claim that Welsh education "is a bigger scandal than the NHS" led to Education Minister Huw Lewis to accuse the Secretary of State of indulging in "gutter politics". Mr Crabb is due to respond by saying that Wales needs more "heated debate" about the issue.

In England, there has been 20 years of heated debate about how to deliver the best education. In Wales, we haven’t even had that discussion. When Welsh Labour Ministers try to shut down the debate it’s the pupils, parents and teachers who lose out.

It is not just the best performing students that are missing out, the most disadvantaged children in Wales are less likely to get good GCSEs than similar pupils in England. That is just not good enough.

We need an honesty check here in Wales and start facing the facts. The inconvenient truth is that at the moment our education standards our not where they should be if we are to have any hope of getting off the bottom of the league table.,

If we are going to be ambitious for the Welsh economy we need to be far more ambitions for Welsh education.

Simply saying, 'we took our eye off the ball' doesn’t come close to the level of responsibility Welsh Labour Ministers should be accepting.

– Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb MP

Colour-coded school ratings published

Rankings for Wales' primary and secondary schools have been published under a new colour-coded 'categorisation' system.

According to their performance, schools are categorised as green, yellow, amber or red.

It replaces the controversial 'banding' method for ranking secondary schools.

Credit: Barry Batchelor/PA Wire

Out of 1,332 primary schools assessed, 206 have been put in the green support category and 58 have been put in the red support category.

Out of 211 secondary schools, 30 have been put in the green support category and 23 are in the red support category.

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