He’s outlined the progress being made on the Welsh Government’s ‘Five for a Fairer Future’ pledges, including:
- Ambitions to create more apprentices and training opportunities for young people – the Welsh Government has announced a £75 million scheme, Jobs Growth Wales, to create 12,000 new job opportunities for 16-24 year olds over the next three years.
- Improving access to GP surgeries in the evenings and Saturdays – the latest figures show an overall increase in GP opening hours across Wales. By April next year there’ll be a further reduction in the number of practices which will close half-day, and more of them will be required to offer appointments early in the morning and toward the end of the day.
- More frontline spending on schools – the Welsh Government has allocated an additional £27 million to schools in 2014-15, on top of increases in previous budgets. By 2014-15, schools funding will be nearly £100 million higher than in 2010-11. Ministers have also invested a further £20 million to support the most disadvantaged pupils, through the Pupil Deprivation Grant.
- 500 extra police community support officers (CSOs) - as of the 1st of April 165 Community Support Officers will either be deployed or in training with the aim of all 500 CSOs being recruited, trained and deployed by September next year.
- Doubling the number of children benefitting from improved health visiting and free childcare – in November last year a £55 million expansion of the Flying Start programme was announced to double the number of children who will benefit from the scheme.
The First Minister said:
"This Government is delivering for the people of Wales. We are creating more apprentices for our young people through our Jobs Growth Wales scheme, a major weapon in our arsenal to prevent another lost generation.
"We are increasing access to GPs for working people and spending more money on our schools. We are providing further support for families in disadvantaged areas with more free child care.
"There are more community support officers on our streets and these extra recruits are already playing a pivotal role, not only in making our communities safer, but in making them feel safer.
"However, while I am confident of the progress we are making, significant challenges lie ahead. We are still feeling the backlash against the UK Government’s recent budget and there are the welfare reform proposals that will hit Wales disproportionately. The Welsh Government will face immense challenges as a result.
"But, make no mistake, this is a Government of action that will continue to do everything we can to build a more prosperous, safe and fairer society."