Wales politics

Labour's prosperity pledges for election campaign

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Media captionCarwyn Jones says Labour is focusing on policies to improve people's lives

Labour needs another five years in power to complete a "decade of delivery", the first minister has said.

Improved school standards, new NHS treatments and 100,000 apprenticeships were among six election pledges for prosperity unveiled by Carwyn Jones.

He also promised free childcare and help for older people selling homes to pay for care if Labour wins in May.

Welsh Tory leader Andrew RT Davies said they would "scarcely paper over the cracks" after 17 years of Labour rule.

Mr Jones said Labour was offering "a helping hand for parents, breathing space for small business, continuing improvement in schools, the latest treatments for the sick and fairness for the older generation".

Image caption Carwyn Jones visits the Airbus factory in Flintshire to promote his apprenticeships pledge

The six Labour promises include:

  • 100,000 new apprenticeships for all ages
  • Business rate relief for small firms
  • £100m fund to boost school standards
  • New treatment fund for the NHS
  • 30 hours free childcare a week for 48 weeks
  • Doubling to £52,000 the amount of cash older people going into care can keep from the sale of their homes

"In 2011, I promised the people of Wales a decade of delivery," he said.

"I said that despite the record cuts to our budget, we would fulfil the promises we made to steer the country through tough times.

"We are half way through that journey and on the promises we made in the last election, we did deliver.

"Today I set out six new promises. Welsh Labour's pledges to the people of Wales."

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Media captionAndrew RT Davies dismissed Labour's plan

Responding for the Conservatives, Mr Davies claimed Labour were stealing some of his party's policies, adding: "These pledges will scarcely paper over the cracks, as the gap between Labour's rhetoric and its results continues to grow.

"Whilst Carwyn Jones talks of a decade of delivery, the people of Wales aren't naïve; all Labour have delivered is disappointment.

"Under Labour, Wales endures the lowest take-home pay in the UK; spending on frontline health services has been cut by a billion pounds since 2011; and despite moderate improvements in GCSE results, they remain worse than those in England.

"So much for ambition and prosperity."

Analysis by Daniel Davies, BBC Wales political correspondent

This is Labour's pitch for another five years in office - another five years to add to the 17 the party has already spent in power since devolution began.

Somehow, Mr Jones must convince voters to give him more time.

The pledge to create a new treatment fund follows a huge row in the assembly over funding the NHS.

Opponents say Labour has cut spending, and the Tories want to see a dedicated fund for paying for cancer treatment.

Labour says it has protected the budget - and claims setting aside money for cancer care would penalise patients suffering from other conditions.

The 100,000 apprenticeships isn't drastically more than the number the Welsh government is creating now - 93,000 so far since the last election, one minister says.

But industry insiders say if Labour maintains a steady supply of apprentice places - and the funding required - then that would be welcomed.

And the schools pledge will be important to Carwyn Jones. He promised to protect funding for schools when he was elected Welsh Labour leader.

But opponents say Labour has presided over a slide in standards in the classroom.

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