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Don’t let Labour leave another generation behind

Labour Ministers have acknowledged that they took their “eye off the ball” with regards to the basics in education, literacy and numeracy. Due to this, Wales has fallen in international rankings and schools in Wales are rated as being the worst in the UK for maths, science and reading.

Ahead of the Assembly election this week, we have made three key education pledges. The Welsh Liberal Democrats will:

• protect the education budget;
• deliver smaller class sizes across Wales;
• tackle the attainment gap between the most disadvantaged pupils and their peers.

17 years of Labour has failed our children. Ministers say they took their eye off the ball, casually accepting that a generation of young people have been let down due to Labour complacency. They should be ashamed.

Never again can people trust Labour with our children’s future. Wales needs a party that will be relentlessly focused on improving our education system.

The last five years have shown that the Welsh Liberal Democrats are the party of education. We were the only party to prioritise education in budget negotiations, delivering over £282m for our schools through our Pupil Premium. This has been the most successful education policy of the last five years and has helped close the attainment gap.

My party has listened to concerns from teachers and parents. That’s why our top priority is cutting class sizes. We’ll ensure every teacher has the time to properly teach our children.

A good education system is the foundation of opportunity and the guarantee that everyone has a fair start in life. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you’re from, Wales must be a nation of equal opportunity. Under Labour, that simply hasn’t been the case.

Voting Labour risks another generation of people being left behind. The Welsh Liberal Democrats are the only party that has said we will protect education spending. If you value the importance of education, then we are the party for you.

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Welsh Lib Dems unveil Opportunity Economy package

The Welsh Liberal Democrats will create an Opportunity Economy that helps businesses grow and supports people to get on in life.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats will:

• More than double the number of apprenticeship starts
• Deliver a unique offer of universal childcare from 9 months to help people back to work
• Support first time buyers through the party’s ‘Rent to Own’ scheme
• Establish a Small Business Administration to bring independent advice and finance together to support small businesses and entrepreneurs

Everyone wants a secure job and a home to build a better life. That’s why we will create an Opportunity Economy that helps businesses grow and supports people to buy their own home.

Labour has a reputation of being anti-business and anti-ambition and this has only been exacerbated by the election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader. In contrast, the Welsh Liberal Democrats will help empower business to thrive, creating the high-value jobs that will finally get our economy moving.

Our vision of an Opportunity Economy means that everyone has the chance to get on in life. We will support people’s ambitions so that if you live in Wales, were born in Wales, have moved to Wales, work in Wales – then you are part of our project to revitalise our great nation.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have listened to people’s concerns. Our priorities are your priorities: more nurses on hospital wards, smaller class sizes for our children, and an Opportunity Economy to deliver a Wales that works for you.

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We’ll support people’s aspirations to own their own home

Labour’s poverty of ambition has held people back from owning their home for too long.

Under Welsh Liberal Democrat plans, young people will be able to buy their own home without a deposit. First-time buyers will steadily build up a share in their home through monthly payments equivalent to rent until they own the property outright after 30 years, just like a normal mortgage.

The party will deliver at least 2,500 ‘Rent to Own’ homes over an Assembly term. The Welsh Liberal Democrats are the party that will support people’s aspirations.

For too long Wales hasn’t been seen as a place where young people can fulfil their dreams and ambitions. Seventeen years of Labour’s poverty of ambition has stopped people getting onto the housing ladder. The Welsh Liberal Democrat vision of an Opportunity Economy will help people have a home of their own.

This is about equal opportunity. Under our proposals, it doesn’t matter what your background or family circumstance is, if you can afford your rent then we will help you own your home – something nearly everyone dreams of.”

The average house price is over six times the average annual salary in Wales. Prices have simply got too far out of reach for too many families, with some first-time buyers saving for 15 years to get onto the housing ladder at all.

Wales can reach its potential. We will support people’s ambitions so that if you live in Wales, were born in Wales, have moved to Wales, work in Wales – then you are part of our project to revitalise our great nation.

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Welsh Lib Dems will lead ‘community energy revolution’

Welsh Liberal Democrats will ensure a widespread expansion in community energy projects to help meet the party’s aim of 100% of Welsh electricity demand generated by renewables by 2025.

The party will encourage small-scale community energy projects by:

• Allowing small-scale projects to sell energy within their own locality and giving them priority access to the National Grid
• Reforming planning laws to presume in favour of microgeneration projects
• Revamping Welsh Government support available to budding projects, including a library of resources to support community groups who wish to establish a project
• Giving community co-operatives the right to establish projects on suitable publicly-owned land

Wales has a tall mountain to climb if we’re to reverse our greenhouse gas emissions trend and meet our climate obligations, but this is a challenge that Welsh Liberal Democrats are more than ready to meet.

To help us reach our goal of 100% renewables by 2025, Welsh Lib Dems will ensure a community energy revolution to benefit both our communities and our environment.

Our plans will make it easier for communities to start up local energy co-operatives, allowing them to use public land and developing resources to help them get going.

Small-scale community energy schemes should be the backbone of our energy mix like small businesses are the backbone of the Welsh economy. We’ll help grow a diverse community energy industry to help power Wales’ future.

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59% of infant classes have over 25 pupils, figures show

Government statistics show an increase in the number of Welsh pupils taught in large classes.

According to figures obtained by the independent Assembly research service, 71,724 pupils are now being taught in classes of 25 pupils or more in Wales, and 59% of all infant classes have 25 or more pupils in them. This is despite Estyn stating children perform best in classes of fewer than 25 pupils.

Class sizes are meant to be restricted to 30 (with permitted exceptions), yet in 2015 7,835 pupils were educated in classes of more than 30 pupils, up from 6,969 in 2013. Class sizes have been steadily increasing for each of the last three years.

Teachers have consistently told us that with ballooning class sizes and mounting bureaucracy, they have less and less time to do what they do best: teach.

We’ve listened to concerns from teachers and parents. That’s why our top education priority is cutting class sizes, starting with our youngest children, to give teachers more time to spend with each pupil.

We can only drive Wales forward when we have an education system that encourages every child to achieve their potential. Welsh Lib Dems are the party of education because we understand that education is the key to an individual’s life-chances.

Through getting the basics right in our education system and ensuring every teacher has the time to properly teach our children, the Welsh Liberal Democrats will deliver a Wales that works for you.

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A week to go to stand up for values of fairness and tolerance

The Liberal Democrats have led the charge to force the UK government to agree to take its fair share of unaccompanied child refuges in Europe, 3,000 of the estimated 30,000 currently open to exploitation in camps.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats’ manifesto makes clear the party would establish Wales as a Nation of Sanctuary, an open and welcoming place for those in need.

This follows a vote on Monday when all Welsh Conservative MPs voted against supporting 3,000 child refugees.

There is a week to go to ensure that strong Liberal voices are in the National Assembly.

Wales has a proud history in stepping up and playing its part in confronting crises. I am in no doubt that this is the humanitarian crisis of our generation. We must all do our part to protect the vulnerable.

Let’s be clear that our values of fairness are not shared across the political spectrum. Only this week the Tories voted against supporting 3,000 unaccompanied vulnerable child refugees, while UKIP want to pull up the drawbridge. They should be ashamed.

If you share our values of fairness, then the people need to be voting for the Welsh Liberal Democrats.

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