By Lesley Griffiths

MS for Wrexham

Tackling child poverty has always been a priority for the Welsh Labour Government.

In April 2020, Wales became the first UK nation to guarantee free school meal provision would be made available through the summer holidays, with the extra investment benefitting an additional 15,000 children nationwide.

As the cost-of-living crisis escalates, the Welsh Government has announced it will invest a further £25m in school kitchens and dining facilities as part of its plans to provide free school meals to all primary school children. From September, some of the youngest children in primary schools will begin receiving free school meals as the policy is introduced in a phased way.

Working with schools and local authorities, the Welsh Government will plan and prepare the infrastructure needed for all primary aged pupils to receive free school meals by September 2024. Every child, no matter what their background, deserves the best possible start in life. We are facing an unprecedented cost-of-living crisis and families in Wrexham are feeling the squeeze. I’m proud the Welsh Government is continuing to lead the way, with the extension of the free school meals programme just one of several measures taken to support people through this difficult time.

Based on the Wrexham Industrial Estate, Air Covers is a world-leading manufacturer of protective covers for aircraft. In recognition of the company’s year-on-year growth, the business was awarded the Queen’s Award for International Trade, the highest independent business accolade in the UK. It was a pleasure to attend the ceremony and I believe Air Covers are fully deserving of this prestigious award. I have closely followed their progress since they moved to Wrexham several years ago and I am proud a local business is manufacturing state-of-the-art products that are recognised and sought after all over the world.

Finally, I am pleased the Welsh Government has confirmed Wales’ flu vaccination programme will once again be extended to include those aged 50 and over and all secondary school children. This is the second year the programme has been extended, meaning more than 1.5m people in Wales will be eligible for a free vaccine this year. Early indications suggest there is likely to be a Covid-19 booster programme in the autumn and it is vital we get vaccinated when we can. Coronavirus has not disappeared and keeping up to date with our Covid and flu vaccines will help protect our NHS, which is still very much recovering from the pandemic.