Carl Sargeant AM, Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Children, speech to Welsh Labour Conference
***Check against delivery***
Every single one of you who has ever knocked a door will have been told:
"You’re all the same"
"You all break your promises"
We know that alienation is a problem for political parties and for our society as a whole.
I can tell you that every Welsh Minister, every Labour AM, every Labour MP and every Labour councillor is committed to giving people new hope and rebuilding their belief that they can help to shape a better future for themselves and their families.
We won’t do that just by giving people a shopping list of achievements and plans. But you need to know what we’ve done and what we’re doing and remind people – whether you meet them as a campaigner, as a trade unionist, as a community activist or simply as a neighbour or friend.
I know that Labour councillors from across Wales have a good story to tell and many of them have already told you about the difference they are making in their communities. I applaud them for the vital work they are doing.
I want to remind you of a few of the things which we are doing for Communities and Children.
Decent Housing plays a crucial role in providing the basis for a good life. Affordable Housing is central to our fight for prosperity for all.
I am proud that in the last Assembly we built more than 11,000 affordable homes, brought 5,000 empty homes back into use and helped 3,300 families – mainly first-time buyers - through Help to Buy - Wales. We have invested over £40 million in building nearly 800 one and two bedroom homes for those affected by the bedroom tax.
By 2021 we will build a further 20,000 affordable homes including 6,000 through Help to Buy-Wales and 1,000 through a new rent to own scheme. Our councils will complete the job of bringing their homes up to the Welsh Housing Quality Standards by 2021. We’ll follow through on the legislation of the last Assembly to ensure a fair deal for tenants. And we’re actively looking at how we will ban letting agents’ fees to tenants.
We’re protecting our social housing stock and making sure that Councils and Housing Associations can build with confidence by abolishing the right to buy – and I think it’s great that councils have already begun to build again.
Labour Councils building Council Housing!
Along with a home, people need a job.
Ken Skates and Julie James have told you about our work and ambitious plans for economic development and the creation of a skilled workforce.
For many parents their ability to work depends on the availability of childcare. We are creating the most generous childcare offer for working parents anywhere in the UK with 30 hours of free childcare a week for the working parents of three and four year olds, 48 weeks of the year.
This will cover the whole of Wales by 2021, with pilots starting in 7 areas this autumn. From September this will be starting in our Labour authorities of RCT, Flintshire, Blaenau Gwent & Caerphilly.
No-one must be left behind as we work to create prosperity for all.
So I want to remind you about our programmes to reach out to those furthest from the labour market. Communities for Work and Lift are proving themselves as mentoring schemes which guide and encourage people into work experience placements, training and jobs. PaCE helps unemployed people with the childcare they need to undertake training and placements.
These programmes are opening up routes into work for people across Wales and our recently announced £12million employability grant will allow councils to continue and build upon these successes.
We know that improving children’s lives in their early years is good for their life-chances and saves on more expensive interventions when problems develop later on.
We doubled the number of young children benefitting from Flying Start to over 36,000 children in the last Assembly and we will continue to provide this crucial service to more than a quarter of the age group. Alongside this we will maintain and strengthen Families First and the Team around the Family approach.
We know that too many children face Adverse Childhood Experiences – including physical or verbal abuse, or being in a household where there is domestic violence, substance misuse, parental separation or mental illness. A combination of these ACEs can immeasurably damage a child’s development and long term prospects..
So I am asking all those who work with children to see the prevention of ACEs and work to reduce their impact as central to their work. And to support them we are developing an ACEs hub to share and spread best practice and zones where professionals can pilot new ways of working together.
Our children must grow up in safe communities.
We delivered on our promise of 500 extra PCSOs and we are maintaining this support for our hard-pressed police force.
We are implementing our Hate Crime Delivery Plan which supports victims and encourages a multi-agency response to hate crime in all its forms.
We passed the Violence Against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence (Wales) Act and we are now implementing its provisions. We must not let perpetrators get away with it.
In this party we will not tolerate bullies. Leaders of parties should lead the way. If an independent adjudication board makes a decision, act on it.
Don’t ever let anyone tell you that policing and justice are right wing issues. Working with progressive Police and Crime Commissioners like Alun Michael, Jeff Cuthbert and councils committed to fairness, we are ensuring protection and support for those who need them most. Those are socialist priorities in action.
And that’s the hallmark of our Welsh Government as a whole.
Practical policies reflecting our deepest beliefs and principles.
Programmes which deliver for all while recognising that some need more help from government than others.
Homes, jobs, a good start for children, safe communities.
These are things that make a difference.
These are promises we are keeping.
That’s why you can go out with confidence and ask people to trust Welsh Labour once again this May.