By Ken Skates AM / Latest News / 0 Comments

LABOUR AM KEN SKATES today called on the Welsh Government to examine the possibility of introducing Universal Free School Meals in Wales.

Speaking in a debate in the Assembly, the Clwyd South AM said despite the introduction of ‘cashless’ systems of paying for Free School Dinners (FSD), the stigma of FSD remained a problem.

The AM said a renewed debate was needed on the introduction of Universal Free School Dinners, believing it could have an important impact on the academic achievement of pupils in Wales.

Clwyd South AM, Ken Skates, said: “We need to look again at the merits of introducing Universal Free School Dinners in Wales as a way of raising academic achievement and tackling the stigma of those who currently receive financial help.

“Instead of rolling out cashless systems, at a considerable cost in terms of IT procurement and staff training, perhaps we should take the natural next step in tying together our education and health objectives with the adoption of Universal Free School Dinners.

“The Assembly’s Children and Young People Committee has previously advocated that this idea be looked at by the Welsh Government and I believe that introducing it in areas like North East Wales could have significant impacts.

“The benefits of universal healthcare and education, free at the point of delivery, is well understood. When you are in the Wrexham Maelor you are not billed for the medicine or food that will make you better yet why then, are children in my constituency being billed for dinners, which are of critical importance to their learning?

“Such an approach would be affordable because of the economies of scale involved, would help in boosting the local produce used in our schools and raise the academic performance of those children from areas of Wrexham and Denbighshire who miss out on a nutritious lunchtime meal.

“In Hull, where studies into the benefits of universal FSD have taken place, 80 per cent of teachers reported having more focused classes and better results. “It is our moral duty to protect children and I believe that provides the most powerful argument in favour of Universal Free School Dinners.”

By Ken Skates AM / Latest News / 0 Comments

CLWYD SOUTH AM, KEN SKATES has called on the Welsh Government to do more to support small rural businesses in North East Wales.

In questions to the Minister for Business and Enterprise in the Assembly, the AM said concerns such as a lack of access to credit had been one of the key concerns raised with him during his short time as an AM

He called on the Minister to look at the capital support available to small rural businesses as a way of getting the local economy back on its feet.

LABOUR AM, KEN SKATES, said:

“One of the many concerns raised with me since taking up my post has been from people running rural small businesses and the access they have to credit and finance.

“As we emerge from the recession and recover from the global financial crisis how we support small and medium sized enterprises located in rural or semi-rural areas like mine will be important in helping get the Welsh economy back on its feet.

“By helping small rural companies to expand and grow their business we can get more people from those areas back into meaningful paid employment and help make the local community economy more sustainable in the long-term.

“I have asked the Minister to examine the sort of capital support that is available to rural enterprises and to ensure we do all we can to help small business in constituencies like Clwyd South.”

The Minister Edwina Hart agreed the issue was very important and committed to examining the support on offer.

By Ken Skates AM / Latest News / 0 Comments

Skates to Fight Bank Closure

Clwyd South Labour AM Ken Skates has vowed to fight plans by HSBC to close their bank in Cefn Mawr.

Mr Skates said the lessons of bank closures elsewhere must be learnt and the Cefn Mawr branch should stay open.

He said: “In Glyn Ceiriog, where the HSBC closed another of its branches and replaced it with a cash point, the machine was vandalised and the bank has failed to respond swiftly to it being out of use.

“Similar stories have been reported in Rhos and so I am totally opposed to the loss of the Cefn Mawr branch.

“It’s about time banks started to make good on the claim they prioritise the interests of their customers.