Plaid Cymru conference: Adam Price pledges free school meals for secondary school students too

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Plaid Cymru begins its conference in Cardiff today with a promise to work towards providing free school meals to all secondary school pupils.

The party is already claiming success in its stated aim of offering free meals to every student in primary school because that policy now forms part of its Cooperation Agreement with the Labour Welsh Government. 

That plan is expected to start being introduced in September with the ambition of delivering it within the next three years. 

But Plaid Cymru’s leader is committing his party to taking the pledge further and he says that it would be something he expected any local authorities led by his party after May’s council election to begin delivering. 

Currently only in Gwynedd does the party have a majority of councillors but it has been sharing power in a further four administrations. 

In his conference speech, Adam Price is expected to say that “Universal Free School Meals is only happening because of Plaid Cymru's co-operative working – together, we are making a difference to the lives of people and communities up and down Wales.

“We are now planning to take the policy further. I can announce today that a key part of our offer in the forthcoming council election campaign is that Plaid Cymru-led councils will commit to setting the goal and begin immediately planning to extend universal free school meals to all secondary school pupils within the next five years.”

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Plaid Cymru members at this weekend’s conference, which is being held at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff, will expect to hear more from Adam Price and other senior figures about the direction that their party is heading in. 

He’ll face tough questions, having taken the leadership from Leanne Wood in 2018 with a promise to reinvigorate the party and lead it to a breakthrough after years of frustration. 

Instead he oversaw a disappointing Welsh election for Plaid Cymru last year, leaving it as the third party in the Senedd chamber. 

There may also be questions about what the agreement with Labour that Adam Price signed last December will mean. 

It’s not a coalition government, nor is it like other forms of co-operation. There are no Plaid Cymru ministers although there are officials linked to the party working as Welsh Government special advisers.

Opponents have labelled the deal as a “travesty” that voters “will rumble” quickly. They claim it sees Plaid “propping up” Labour, claiming credit for some policies but acting like an opposition party at other times. 

Adam Price is expected to defend it fiercely in his speech.

“Through Free School Meals for all we will begin to create a Wales free of hunger and poverty. Through our National Care Service we will create a Wales free of worry in old age. 

"Through rent control and a right to housing we will create a Wales free of homelessness. And through free universal early learning and childcare, high-quality, bilingual, and free we will build a Wales in which every child can become the adult they were meant to be."