This is an article for the Glamorgan Gazette
Early next month the Welsh Assembly will be voting on the final budget for public services in Wales for the 2014-15 financial year. At £15 billion or so that is a substantial amount of money, the vast majority of which will be going to health and, through local councils to education and social services.
Because the Government does not have a majority they are forced to work with other parties to get the budget through and this year the Welsh Liberal Democrats got together with Plaid Cymru to negotiate a substantial £100 million package that will benefit both our local schools and the health service.
The Pupil Deprivation Grant was created in 2012 following a budget deal between the Welsh Government and the Welsh Liberal Democrats. It is designed to give schools more money to help children from deprived backgrounds.
As a result of the latest agreement with the Welsh Labour Government, in exchange for supporting the Welsh Government's annual budget, the Pupil Deprivation Grant, has more than doubled.
From 2014 schools will receive £918 for every pupil entitled to free school meals. As a result, schools in Bridgend will receive an additional £3.706m.
As part of the deal, the Welsh Liberal Democrats also secured £50m extra to relieve pressure on strugglinghospitals through a new Intermediate Care Fund. This will allow better co-ordinated and joined up care to be provided to support independent living and secure the best decision making for the lives of people, who need health, housing and social services.
The Welsh Liberal Democrats created the pupil deprivation grant because we want to give every child a fairer start in life. Too often children from poorer backgrounds fall behind in school even at an early age. We want to put an end to this inequality. In doing so, we will be raising standards in our schools for all pupils across Wales.
Helping poorer pupils was a key pledge in the Welsh Liberal Democrat's 2011 manifesto. We appreciate how important education is to creating a fairer society. Sadly, schools in Wales have suffered from years of under-investment from the Welsh Labour Government.
The extra £50 million for the intermediate care fund will help to ensure that timely discharge arrangements are in place to ensure that more hospital beds are freed up. This investment will relieve some of the pressure that is currently being placed on them.
Finally, the deal also secured the provision of a £2 million robotic surgery system for the Singleton Hospital cancer centre capable of minimally invasive treatment of prostate and other cancers. The machine enables the removal of tumours using keyhole surgery without many of the traditional side effects associated with the treatment of prostate cancer.