With the Westminster government in freefall, the latest alarming energy price warnings and general cost of living crisis, many people in our communities are struggling just to put food on the table for their families.

In contrast to what is scandalously not happening in England, the Welsh Labour government is rolling out an ambitious programme which shows that Mark Drakeford and his team are focused on softening the economic blows for our people.

As an example, from September, every reception-aged child in Wales will qualify for a lunch at no cost on every school day.

Parents will no longer have to worry about how much extra they will have to pay as a child starts school. For parents who have one or more children at school this can make a real saving to the rising cost of the weekly food bill.

But here in Monmouthshire, our Labour county council, supported by our fantastic schools, headteachers and governors, is going even further to support our families.

Because in our county it will not only be reception-aged children who will get a free lunch, but the whole of our foundation stage: children in reception, year 1 and year 2 will all benefit.

I am proud of the teamwork behind the additional support we can offer.

In many schools work has been needed to get lunchtime facilities extended to cope with the greater numbers who will be eating a cooked lunch. But our schools have risen to the challenge and I thank them for it.

Now no parents of any infant-aged children will have to worry about how much they will have to pay to feed their child during the school week.

And, even more importantly, it means that our children can get a daily, healthy meal. It can make a huge difference to the way they thrive and of course take advantage of the what they are learning while at school.

Now, just after the end of another school year, I also want to give my thanks - and congratulations - to all those who work in our schools.

With everything that has gone on, it has been yet another challenging year.

The effects of the pandemic continue to have their impact in so many ways.

At the same time schools have been busy preparing for the start of the introduction of the new Welsh curriculum and the new regulations and support for pupils with additional learning needs.

Our teachers, support workers, headteachers and everyone who makes our schools such great places for learning deserve not just my thanks, but the appreciation of all of us.