The Welsh Lib Dems say their Budget demands will again concentrate on education. Last year Jane Hutt won their support for her Budget by agreeing to a Pupil Deprivation Grant, similar to the Pupil Premium paid in England. The grant pays £450 to schools for each pupil entitled to free school meals.
The Lib Dems are now saying that although the grant was a start, more must be done to make sure that all pupils in Wales get a fair start in life. In England, there'll soon be a 'catch-up premium' based on the number of pupils arriving in secondary school who have fallen behind in English or maths.
Last year, the Welsh Liberal Democrats vastly improved upon the Welsh Labour Government’s proposed budget by introducing the Welsh Pupil Premium. If we recognise an opportunity to improve on this year’s budget, then of course we will consider it, but the agreement must be the right one.
Despite failing standards in our schools and an ever growing spending gap per pupil when compared to England, the Welsh Labour Government was content with the status quo. The Welsh Liberal Democrats couldn’t allow this trend to continue, which was why we insisted on the introduction of a Pupil Premium.
– Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Kirsty Williams AM
We fought hard to ensure that further funding was put into our education system so that the most disadvantaged children would get the help they need. We are immensely proud that when we are out knocking on people’s doors, it is the Pupil Premium that people remember from that particular budget.
We used our influence to give all children a fairer start in life. Nonetheless, we can’t just sit back and believe the job is done. In this budget, we are calling on the Welsh Labour Government to make further moves to ensure that Wales’ children are not allowed to be left behind.
Kirsty Williams says she has held preliminary talks with Jane Hutt about this year's Budget. As Labour lacks an overall majority in the Senedd, the Finance Minister will have to strike a deal with one or other of the opposition parties. The Lib Dems are hoping to be her preferred partners.