Friday, January 27, 2012

An extra 10.6 years for living the other side of the county

Local Liberal Democrats have today hit out after new research showed that people who live in one area of Neath Port Talbot can expect to live 10.6 years longer than people living in another area.

Figures from the local Liberal Democrats have shown that people in Godre’r Graig can expect to live until they are 84.5 but people who live in Port Talbot can only expect to live until they are 73.6. That means there is a shocking difference of nearly eleven years just for living on the other side of the county.

Mathew McCarthy, Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Neath commented: “These figures show exactly how badly people in some areas have been let down by Labour. Inequality should be a priority for the Labour government in Cardiff but these figures show that not everyone in Neath Port Talbot is having a fair shot at life. That absolutely has to change. For Labour, social justice is just a phrase they roll out at election time.”

Kirsty Williams, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats said:
“Recent studies have shown that tackling inequality has to be done across all parts of government – using the NHS, schools and the economy to improve people’s lives. When the Welsh Lib Dems secured an extra £20 million investment in the poorest school children it was because I knew that tackling differences in life expectancy needs to take place at the earliest age possible. Action like that is the first step to reducing the inequality that we see all too often in Wales."

Thursday, January 26, 2012

LibDems pushing for more tax cuts to help low-paid

Councillor Frank Little writes: There is a real push by Liberal Democrats in government, notably Business Minister Vince Cable and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, to move more quickly to take everybody earning £10,000 a year or less out of tax. It was a Liberal Democrat manifesto proposition in 2010 to do this, but the coalition agreement merely promised to achieve it by 2015. Now, however, there is a real chance that low- and middle-income taxpayers will benefit in the 2012 budget, and that the money will be found from the wealthiest - possibly from land, which cannot move abroad.

As this news release points out, Liberal Democrats in government have already:

  • clamped down on tax avoiders – targeting an extra £7bn every year
  • started taxing the banks by an extra £2.5bn every year, more than Labour's bank bonus levy would raise
  • stopped inheritance tax cuts for millionaires
  • put up Capital Gains Tax
  • reduced tax breaks on pension funds for the super-rich
  • retained the 50p rate

Raising the tax threshold immediately would pump millions into the economy because those on lower pay will spend the extra income. It's also fair


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Local Post Offices saved by Liberal Democrats

Post Offices in Swansea, Neath Port Talbot and Bridgend have been saved by Liberal Democrat Business Minister, Ed Davey.

After ending Labour’s shameful Post Office closure programme, which saw more than 7100 Post Offices disappear in their 13 years in office, Ed Davey has announced that a ten-year deal between the Post Office and the Royal Mail has been reached.

The deal gives additional certainty to subpostmasters across the UK and covers the full range of Royal Mail products available at post offices such as first and second class post, parcels, air mail, recorded and special deliveries.

It adds to other recent progress for the Post Office, with extra Government cash kicking in, new national and local government contracts won, successful piloting of new models to transform many local post offices and improvements in financial services offered.

Regional Welsh Liberal Democrat Assembly Member, Peter Black welcomed the agreement. He said;

“After years of Post Office closures under the Labour Government, it is excellent news that Liberal Democrats are doing the right thing by ensuring that the Post Office has a sustainable future ahead of it through investment and by brokering this deal with Royal Mail.

“Post Offices are a vital part of our communities and are the lynchpin of our towns and villages. More than 20 million people visit a Post Office every week to send letters to loved ones, to manage their finances or to renew passports for holidays and hundreds of thousands of pensioners rely on them every day for their pensions.

“Labour left Royal Mail in a terrible mess and it is Liberal Democrats in the Coalition Government who have stopped closures and put Royal Mail and the Post Office on a secure footing. Our plans mean that we will never see the kind of planned closures that devastated local communities under the previous Government.

“The 20 million people who use the Post Office every week don’t deserve anything less from us.”

Commenting further, Ed Davey said:

“A year ago I set out a radical plan to transform Post Office’s future, with £1.34bn of Government support and investment but without any closure programmes.

“Since then the Post Office has made good progress to become more competitive, building on its strengths.

“While it will take several years to turn round the Post Office’s finances, it’s increasingly clear the reforms are beginning to work.

“The 10-year deal struck between Royal Mail and the Post Office will give subpostmasters and others greater confidence.

“The signs are extremely encouraging for the future of the Post Office.”

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Assembly Member expresses concern at rise in workload for District Nurses in ABMU Health Board area

Figures released to the Welsh Liberal Democrat AM for South Wales West, Peter Black, show a decline in the number of District Nurses in Swansea, Neath Port Talbot and Bridgend, whilst at the same time the number of clients dependent on their services has increased by nearly one fifth.

In Bridgend the number of qualified district nurses fell from 69.64 whole time equivalents in 2008 to 67.47 by April 2011. Over the same period the number of clients being cared for by the service rose from 4592 to 5435.

In Neath Port Talbot qualified staff went from 74.49 WTE to 67.08, with the client base increasing from 3195 to 4418. Whilst Swansea’s qualified whole time equivalent staff dropped from 94.981 to 86.481. Their client base remained relatively steady, rising slightly from 3127 in 2008 to 3427 in 2010.

Commenting on the figures, Mr. Black said: “Despite the fact that ABMU Health Board have said that they are investing in community services and changing the skill mix of staff so as to meet demand, these figures still show a significant increase in workload for District Nurses and the Health Care Workers who work with them.

“At a time when the Welsh NHS is seeking to get people out of hospital and provide more care for patients in their own homes, these trends are very worrying. My concern is that these increased workloads will take their toll on the health of District Nursing staff and increase stress levels.

I am certainly supportive of the move towards more community medicine and patient independence where appropriate, but we have to have confidence that there is sufficient investment in the relevant services and support staff so as to deliver that safely. I hope that ABMU can give those assurances.”

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Nick Clegg on Andrew Marr show

Liberal Democrats have been accused by Labour of propping up the Conservatives and worse, but Nick Clegg, deputy prime minister reminds us:

Nearly two years ago, Liberal Democrats chose to do the right thing in the national interest at a time of crisis. We put tribalism aside and the good of the country first.

We didn’t come into politics to make cuts, but with the economy on the verge of collapse we knew we had to take the difficult decisions necessary to get the deficit under control and the country back on track.

And how did the Labour Party react?

They attacked us viciously. They refused to apologise or take responsibility for the mess they created. They opposed every cut and they indulged in cynical scaremongering.

In Sheffield, David Blunkett warned of ‘post-Soviet’ meltdown with people fending for themselves. It was the politics of fear and it was a disgrace.

But now, after nearly two years of opposing every cut, Ed Miliband and Ed Balls say they won’t reverse a single one. Yet they still say they oppose them.


They have gone from being in the wrong place to being all over the place. From denial to disarray.

Many of our excellent councillors and members of the Scottish and Welsh Assemblies lost their seats last May because of the vicious attacks of their Labour opponents. Labour must not get away with it again.

Liberal Democrats approach this May’s elections with a track record of proud, progressive achievements in Government:

Lifting a million of the poorest workers out of tax and cutting taxes, not for the rich but for 23m basic rate taxpayers;

Making the well off pay their share by raising Capital Gains Tax, a new £10bn bank levy and keeping the 50p top rate of tax;

The most generous rise in the state pension for a generation;

A revolution in the way we support the children who need help the most when it matters the most, in the crucial early years and throughout their school lives;

More apprenticeships than Britain has ever had before;

And from this April, [in England,] the Youth Contract, an ambitious £1bn programme to make sure every 18 to 24-year-old has the opportunity to earn or learn.

You can see Nick's interview by Andrew Marr here.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Wales must not be left out of Drink Drive Rehabilitation Schemes

Welsh Liberal Democrat Assembly Member, Peter Black has raised concerns that convicted drink drivers will have to go to England for Drink Drive Rehabilitation courses unless Ministers introduce legislation in the Welsh Assembly within the next few months.

Mr. Black has written to the Minister for Local Government, Transport and Communities asking him to commit to legislation for a Drink Drive Rehabilitation Scheme in Wales. Courses provide offenders with important insight into their behaviour and strategies to avoid drink driving in future and are often included as part of sentencing in the courts. Responsibility for such schemes will be passed from the Department for Transport to the Welsh Assembly in October 2012. To ensure that there is a seamless continuance in service from Drink Drive Rehabilitation Scheme course providers it is vital that legislation is passed by the Welsh Government before approval of existing course providers is revoked in the autumn. This is vital too, so as to protect jobs in Wales associated with these courses.

Mr. Black said: “There are a number of organisations across the UK who provide courses that drink drive offenders can be referred onto by the courts. These courses provide offenders with the ability to gain an insight into their behaviour and offer strategies to avoid drink driving in the future. It also means that their driving ban can be reduced on attendance of the course.

“As the responsibility for the administration of this scheme has been devolved to the National Assembly for Wales I am advised that separate legislation will have to be introduced by the Welsh Government if there is to be a DDRS in Wales.

“I have asked Carl Sargeant to confirm what plans the Welsh Government has to introduce this legislation in time for the revocation of approval for course providers in October.”

Monday, January 16, 2012

Kirsty targets homes, heating and the economy

Kirsty Williams, leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, has laid out the key issues for the party's AMs in 2012, in a statement last week. She added:

"Fuel poverty in Wales is a serious issue. Rising energy prices have had a huge impact on family budgets this winter, despite having a milder winter. Just last month, we saw the number of households living in fuel poverty in Wales rising to 41% - the highest percentage throughout the UK.

"In a civilized society, vulnerable people should not have to worry about whether or not they can afford to heat their homes. The impact on households that suffer from fuel poverty can be extreme with cold housing contributing to low attainment amongst school children, poor health and a rise in excess winter mortality rates.

"The Welsh Government failed to reach its target of taking all vulnerable households out of fuel poverty by 2010.

"The Welsh Liberal Democrats have always been committed to tackling fuel poverty but there is now an even greater urgency in dealing with this issue as it is clear that Labour Government policies do not go far enough. We will work with other parties and the Welsh Government to ensure that the number of households living in fuel poverty in Wales will be in decline.

"The Welsh Liberal Democrats will also work in this Assembly term to address the growing housing issue. The recent drop in the number of new homes being started in Wales are keeping house prices at unaffordable levels and this adds to the problems of first time buyers.

"We understand how difficult it is for young people to make it on the housing ladder. Many people feel trapped in renting accommodation because they can't raise the big deposit needed to buy their first home and they can't borrow money from the bank of mum and dad.

"We want to see a Welsh Government scheme where the government will act as a guarantor for a number of mortgages across Wales, helping first time buyers on the housing ladder."

Friday, January 13, 2012

Assembly Member calls for assurances on safety of Neath Port Talbot’s Children’s’ Services

The Welsh Liberal Democrat Assembly Member for South Wales West, Peter Black has called for assurances that children in Neath Port Talbot are being properly protected following a critical report by the Social Services Inspectorate and the rumoured departure of the Council’s Head of Childrens’ Service,

Mr. Black has written to the Neath Port Talbot’s Director of Social Services setting out his concerns about the performance of the council’s Children and Young People Service. His letter arises after having been approached by a number of concerned constituents, including professionals who work with children, who have set out their own complaints about the way that the Children and Young People Service works.

Mr. Black had previously met with the Welsh Government’s Deputy Minister for Social Services after working with a constituent on a child protection matter, whose experience of Neath Port Talbot's Childrens' Service raised many questions about how that section operates, its processes and the way that they manage risk

Mr. Black said:

“This is the second time in as many months that I have felt obliged to raise my concerns about Neath Port Talbot’s Children and Young People Service publically. I do not do so lightly. However a meeting with a professional, who cares for children in Neath Port Talbot recently, highlighted additional concerns that reinforced the experience of a constituent I had been helping.

“These matters included an alleged lack of continuity in terms of keeping the same social worker, the quality and timeliness of interventions, the size of caseloads, and a lack of joined-up working. These issues are all too familiar from an on-going complaint that I and my staff have been dealing with since July 2011.

“Vulnerable children and families in Neath Port Talbot must be protected and helped. It is vital that immediate steps are taken to get to the root of the problems in Neath Port Talbot Children and Young People Service and put them right urgently. Changing the head of service is not enough, there needs to be full and on-going scrutiny of the department and immediate changes in practice.

“The independent Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales has already said that they have identified a number of factors which 'impact on the authority's ability to provide a safe, high quality responsive service.' Continuity of care, a settled workforce and a full overhaul of the way that staff work must be the first priorities for reform of the service.”

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Nick Clegg helps to mend European fences

From the Leader of the Liberal Democrat ELDR Council Delegation

Nick Clegg hosted a meeting of European Liberal Ministers, Party Leaders and Commissioners in London yesterday at Admiralty House. This was a party political event organised by and held under the aegis of the European Liberal Democrat and Reform party (ELDR). It was entirely funded by ELDR and approved by propriety and ethics in the Cabinet Office.

This is the first time in years where this sort of meeting has been held. Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte, has offered to host another such meeting later this year.

The two key themes of the meeting were (i) the need for EU unity at this difficult time and (ii) a call for an urgent and ambitious European jobs and growth plan.

This is reflected in the attached joint statement that was agreed and signed by the participants.

This includes:

- 2 Prime Ministers - Netherlands (Rutte) & Estonia (Ansip).
- 4 Deputy Prime Ministers - UK (Clegg), Sweden (Bjorkland), Finland (Wallin) and Belgium (Van Quickenborne).
- 4 European Commissioners - Economics & Monetary Affairs (Olli Rehn), Trade (De Gucht), Home Affairs (Malmstrom), and Education and Cultural Affairs (Vassilliou).
- ALDE Group Leader in the European Parliament (Verhofstadt) and others.

Margrethe Vestager (DPM Denmark) would also have signed, but as Denmark have the EU Presidency at the moment, they need to retain public neutrality.

To be clear, and in the unlikely event that parts of the UK media/ Commons interpret this incorrectly, the text includes a call for the new intergovernmental treaty which is currently under discussion at present (UK as an observer to the talks among the other EU-26) to be:

- Focused on fiscal/ budgetary matters - if the scope of the treaty is widened to allow for eurozone plus discussions and initiatives on the single market, as Sarkozy would like, the UK would have no voice in those discussions. This would be a disaster for the UK and remove a large liberal voice from the table.

- For all competitiveness and growth measures to be done through the normal EU-27 route (or 'community method') where every member state's voice is heard.

- And for the new Treaty to be rolled into the EU Treaties in due course - this would avoid legal confusion and ensure that the EU institutions (especially the Commission and ECJ) are able to enforce it/ police it so that it is fully in line with existing EU law and practice.

To be clear, this does NOT mean that we would abandon the need for safeguards before it could be rolled in to the EU Treaties. NOR does it mean that the actual substance of the Treaty itself (e.g. Legally binding annual debt limits) would apply to the UK. In other words, Clegg is NOT
calling for the UK to sign up to the Treaty.

As with other Eurozone rules, and many other aspects of the EU (e.g. Schengen), rolling this into the EU Treaties would mean that the substance applied to some but not all EU member states. By embedding it in the EU Treaties, there would be no risk of it undermining the Union, the single market and the rights and obligations of all member states (both Euro-ins and -outs).

Finally, this meeting was an excellent opportunity to use an existing pan-European political network available to the government to pursue coalition objectives. In fact both the Prime Minister and Chancellor used the meeting as an opportunity to hold bilateral meetings on the margins with several of the guests. This shows that any suggestion of duplicity by
the Lib Dems is entirely false. Moreover, the 30th January EU summit is focused on growth and competitiveness, the UK's no. 1 EU priority. Further work is now planned off the back of the London meeting to ensure a Liberal European agenda, a British agenda, influences the discussions to the fullest possible extent.

Joint Statement: European Liberal Democrat Leaders Meeting

Leading Government Ministers, Party Leaders and European Commissioners
from Liberal Democratic parties across Europe, meeting in London at the
invitation of UK Deputy Prime Minister, Rt Hon Nick Clegg MP, and under
the aegis of the European Liberal Democrat and Reform party (ELDR), today
made the following declaration.

Jobs, Growth & Reform

Europe is at a dangerous crossroads. Without decisive and concrete action,
we risk recession, rising unemployment and falling living standards. There
is a real risk of Europe turning inwards, with a return to the
protectionist policies of the past. Our ability to prevent this now
depends on our willingness to act together in the collective interest.

Resolving the economic crisis is the urgent priority. This clearly
requires greater fiscal coordination, discipline and solidarity. But our
problems cannot be solved through austerity alone. Unless we can tackle
another underlying cause of the crisis - Europe’s lack of global
competitiveness - this crisis will be the first of many.

We are firmly of the view that a vital part of a lasting solution is an
urgent and far-reaching reform agenda to create the right skills mix and
to help unlock jobs and economic growth across the EU. Europe has done
this before: the Single Market Programme of the 80s and 90s was a truly
remarkable liberal achievement, tearing down trade barriers within Europe
and unlocking unprecedented levels of new jobs, growth and prosperity. We
need to build on the progress made to date, in particular through Mario
Monti’s 2010 report on the Single Market and the Commission’s Single
Market Act, to recapture this level of ambition.

We therefore call on all European leaders and institutions to use the
January 2012 European Council meeting to kick start and drive forward an
Urgent and Ambitious Plan for Jobs and Growth in Europe, including:

• A programme for the completion of the Single Market by 2015. This
should include a growth test to identify the priority measures, a
fast-track mechanism to drive them through the legislative process, and a
commitment to prioritise their implementation and enforcement. Completing
the single market in the services and digital sectors alone could add
hundreds of billions of Euros to the European economy and generate
thousands of Euros in extra annual income for the average European

• A programme running until 2015 for the reform of existing EU
legislation, including social and employment legislation, to aid domestic
structural reforms across Europe and help deliver flexible labour markets,
boost European competitiveness and increase employment;

• An ambitious external trade package that taps into the dynamism of
other economies around the world, with the aim of completing all existing
FTAs by the end of the year - contributing an extra €60bn to the European
economy – and including the launch of new trade negotiations with Japan
and the US as soon as possible. Such an ambitious external trade agenda
could generate millions of European jobs. Meanwhile, we must insist on the
respect of existing market access in third countries and must not allow
protectionism to gather strength.

• A commitment from member states and EU institutions to focus their
limited financial and human resources on prioritising competitiveness,
innovation, research and infrastructure;

• A commitment from member states and EU institutions for growth,
competitiveness and external trade to be priority agenda items on all
European Council summits until the end of this Commission;

• A reinforced smart regulation programme that incorporates the
Commission’s welcome new approach to minimising the regulatory burden on
SMEs, and includes reviews of the acquis for further opportunities to
exempt or lighten the regulatory burden on micro-businesses where
justified, a new administrative burden-reduction target and regular
progress reports to the Council and Parliament.

Unity, the EU-27 & Eurozone Fiscal Integration

Finding credible solutions to the Eurozone crisis remains our number one
priority and is in the interests of all member states. We call upon the
European institutions to come to conclusions on the Commission’s enhanced
six pack proposals and to adopt positions on the green paper on stability
bonds. We recognise that the draft Reinforced Economic Union (REU) Treaty
is a step towards greater fiscal coordination, discipline and solidarity
among Eurozone countries. However, we strongly believe that this must not
come at the cost of division or disunity in the EU.

We therefore call for the new Treaty to focus on fiscal matters among
Eurozone members, believing that enhanced competitiveness is most
effectively pursued by all EU-27 member states; for the Treaty to
safeguard the community method and fully respect the policies and
competencies of the EU as set out in the EU Treaties; and for the REU
Treaty to be rolled into the EU Treaties in due course.

Andrus Ansip PM, Leader of the Reform Party
Prime Minister of Estonia
Jan Björklund, Leader of the Folkpartiet
Deputy Prime Minister of Sweden

Rt Hon Nick Clegg MP, Leader of the Liberal Democrats
Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

Praxoula Antoniadou Kyriacou, Leader of the United Democrats
Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism of Cyprus
Karel De Gucht
Commissioner for Trade

Cecilia Malmström
Commissioner for Home Affairs

Artur Mas i Gavarró, Leader of Convergència Democràtica
President of the Government of Catalonia

Mark Rutte, Leader of the VVD
Prime Minister of the Netherlands

Olli Rehn
European Commission Vice President
Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs

Vincent Van Quickenborne, Open VLD
Deputy Prime Minister & Pensions Minister

Androulla Vassiliou
Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth

Guy Verhofstadt MEP, Leader of the ALDE Group,
European Parliament

Stefan Wallin, Leader of the Swedish People’s Party
Minister of Defence

Sir Graham Watson MEP, ELDR Party President
Liberal Democrats

Saturday, January 07, 2012

A benefits system that works

Mike German, former leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, is co-chair of the Parliamentary Party Committee on Work and Pensions. He writes in Liberal Democrat Voice of a big first step being taken towards Liberal Democrats' long term ambition of merging tax and benefits. The Welfare Reform Bill is now in the final stages of its passage through the House of Lords and Mike explains his significance:

Our benefit system is the most complex and cumbersome system in the developed world. It requires an annual book to be published which explains the system and is the size of the Bible! This Bill is radically changing the culture surrounding welfare in this country, creating a simple, fair system that encourages individual responsibility whilst targeting resources on those who need them most. This single working age benefit parallels our own policies on welfare and will improve the current complex system.

The principles of Universal Credit are fundamentally Liberal Democrat and will continue to protect those who need protecting and support those who can move into work, encouraging a fair and responsible system. We have much to be proud of in always making work pay and meeting the challenge of lifting more people out of poverty than the last government did in its whole term.

There are tough decisions to make elsewhere in the benefit system but we should never lose sight of the need to reduce poverty in our country.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Assembly Member to hold advice surgery in Neath

The Welsh Liberal Democrat Assembly Member for South Wales West, Peter Black, will be holding his first advice surgeries of the new year next week.

On Friday 13 January 2012 he will be in Neath Central Library from 5pm to 6pm.

No appointment is necessary.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Neath Port Talbot council house sell-off vote confirmed flawed

The South Wales Evening Post today reports that Neath Port Talbot Council "has lost an appeal over a ruling that it had incorrectly withheld information from a group opposed to the transfer of its housing stock".

Cllr Keith Davies, leader of the Liberal Democrat group on the council, commented: "We said at the time that the decision to deny the information to the Defend Council Housing group was immoral and undemocratic, and now we know that it was unlawful as well."

Twelve cuts Labour don't talk about

Ian Swales MP writes: 12 CUTS Labour don’t talk about

The Labour party think they can win the economic argument by just wailing about cuts on behalf of their public sector union paymasters. They give no credible alternatives for what they would do about Britain’s economic crisis.

What they also like to ignore is some of the changes that are being made towards making this country fairer. Here is a list of cuts WE should be talking about because they are mostly happening through Lib Dem action and pressure.

The CUT from £250,000 to £50,000 in the maximum annual pension contribution to receive tax relief – clawing back a staggering £4,000,000,000 (£4bn) that Labour was giving to the rich.
The CUT in bank profits with a new tax raising £2.5 bn a year.
The CUT in regional disparity through the £2.4 bn regional growth fund.
The CUT in tax paid by ordinary people with the basic tax threshold raised to £8,105 by next April from £6,475 in 2010/11 – and no more 10p tax rate fiascos.
The CUT in the 40% tax threshold meaning the better off pay more.
The CUT in money that Labour allowed people to make in Capital Gains with the tax rate rising from 18% to 28%.
The CUT in pensioner poverty with a triple lock guarantee of rises and the biggest ever cash rise coming in April 2012. No more 75p-per-week insults.
The CUT in the gap between rich and poor through the VAT rise. Remember those who spend most pay most and the basic costs of living don’t have standard rate VAT.
The CUT in benefit fraud with new resources being brought in.
The CUT in tax evasion by the rich with £900m of extra resource.
The CUT in education disadvantage for poorer children through the Pupil Premium.
The CUT in the amount per month students will have to pay back after graduation and a higher threshold before they start paying anything.
Remember, Labour didn’t deliver these changes in their 13 years of government and voted AGAINST them in this government. Lib Dems in parliament are pushing a fairness agenda and showing that Labour can never again be trusted with the economy. If you have Labour Councils you can probably see the same incompetence and wrong choices in your area too. It’s time to go out and tell the public.

By the way, just for good measure we also CUT Tory plans to increase the Inheritance
Tax threshold from £350,000 to £1,000,000!

Hat-tip to Liberal Democrat Voice. The regional growth fund does not apply to Wales, but the revenue settlement for Wales in the 2010 budget was higher than what Labour would have given us if they had been returned to power in Westminster. Thanks to Kirsty Williams and her team in Cardiff, Wales now has its own version of the pupil premium.