The cost-of-living crisis is hitting families hard so I was pleased to see further announcements from the Welsh Government which will help to support people here in Blaenau Gwent and right across Wales.

Welsh Government has announced that it will increase the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) from £30 to £40 per week.

Education Maintenance Allowance ensures that our 16 to 18-year-olds, who live in low-income households, have the financial support they need to cover additional costs while they remain in education.

Approximately 16,000 further education students benefit from Education Maintenance Allowance across Wales, and I have heard first hand from students here in Blaenau Gwent what an important difference it has made in helping them to continue with their learning.

Our young people are not immune from the rising costs affecting us all and no student should have to choose between eating or travelling to school or college for their learning.

So, it is only right that as the costs of travel and food, amongst other things, increases that we continue to support to our young people in building their futures.

I was also pleased to see that Welsh Government is continuing to expand the Flying Start programme to reach more children and families. Over the next two years Welsh Government will invest £46m in expanding Flying Start childcare.

The expansion comes on top of the current childcare offer of 30 hours funded childcare for 48 weeks a year for working parents or parents in education and training with children aged three and four and will mean that more than 9,500 more two-year-olds will be able to access high-quality childcare support.

In Blaenau Gwent we have some excellent, high quality flying start provision. I’ve visited a number of the settings and have spoken to many families across the borough who have told me how important this vital support is to them and how it has enabled them to access work or education.