Friday, 23 May 2008

During the last 2 weeks, as Deputy Minister for Health and Social Services, I’ve been able to announce 2 innovative and exciting new policies

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In April, I was able to announce a new, wide-ranging strategy to tackle autism and improve services for those who are affected by the condition. An increasing number of people are being diagnosed with Autism in Wales and there is a need to improve the provision that is available for children, young people and adults with ASD. Wales is the first country in the world to have established a cross-cutting national strategic action plan for ASD that will help the estimated 30,000 people that are either directly or indirectly affected by Autism in Wales. The Action Plan will drive improvements across both children, young peoples and adult services in health, social services and education services and also expand into areas of housing, leisure and society in general, and is yet another World first for Wales. Last week, I was delighted to be able to announce that children under the care of Local Authorities in Wales are to benefit from an extra contribution of Pfund150 a year to their Child Trust Fund as a result of additional funding from the Labour-led Welsh Assembly Government and from the UK Government. Child Trust Funds, which were introduced in 2005, can help play a crucial role in achieving our aim of tackling child poverty in Wales. The account belongs to the child and can't be touched until they turn 18, so that children have some money behind them to start their adult life. Encouraging a savings culture and helping children learn about finance are crucial if we are to break the vicious circle of child poverty and Im confident that policy will help us reach our goal.

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