Wales politics

Child burial fees to be scrapped in Wales, says Carwyn Jones

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Media captionCarwyn Jones praised the campaign highlighting the impact of child burial fees

Labour will scrap child burial fees in Wales, Carwyn Jones has told his party conference.

The Welsh Labour leader said an extra £20m would be provided for social care "to ease the burden on the NHS".

Mr Jones also announced free Wifi on Welsh trains and at stations, and free long distance bus services at weekends.

Before he spoke, in Llandudno, UK leader Jeremy Corbyn urged delegates not to be afraid of a accumulating debt to improve lives.

In his conference speech Mr Jones praised the "tenacious and dignified campaign" being fought by Labour Swansea East MP Carolyn Harris on funeral costs for children.

"Today I am pleased to confirm that the welsh Labour Government will step in, and make sure that burial charges for children will no longer apply in Welsh communities," he said.

The policy is expected to cost £750,000 to £1m per year.

He also announced £20m extra "for social care to ease the burden on the NHS, to ensure dignity for older and vulnerable people and to give the staff the resources they need".

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Image caption Carolyn Harris had campaigned for child burial fees to be scrapped

Mr Jones said the Welsh Government "will ensure that every train on the Wales and Borders franchise will be equipped with free Wi-fi by September this year".

50 of Wales' busiest stations in Wales will also gain free internet access, and Mr Jones announced a "12 month pilot of free weekend travel on our long distance TrawsCymru service to encourage more people to travel on the network".

Mr Jones told the conference hall at Venue Cymru that everything that has happened since last May's assembly elections "merely underlines the strength" of the party's result at that poll.

Labour held 29 seats, losing one but remaining the largest party in the assembly.

Mr Jones said the party's loss in Gower in the 2015 general election "changed the way we approached" the May 2016 poll.

He said the Welsh Government had to make a "success" of the Brexit process. "I firmly believe we have to get real about this - Brexit is happening."

Image caption Jeremy Corbyn appeared with Carwyn Jones at the conference on Saturday

Mr Jones accused Theresa May's UK government of having "no ideas, no direction, no mandate", and claimed that it was Welsh Labour "that delivered a future for steel, when the Tories did nothing."

During his speech, Mr Jones announced the establishment of a "fair work commission" with Wales TUC and business groups.

Mr Jones said: "I made no apology for putting jobs and growth at the heart of successive budgets in the last assembly.

"Unemployment in Wales now stands at 4.4% - lower than the UK average. I want to make Wales a fair work nation where everyone can access better jobs closer to home."

A vote to formally give Mr Jones the title of Welsh Labour leader, rather than leader of the party's group of AMs in Cardiff Bay, that was due to take place on Saturday will now be held at conference on Sunday.

It follows a problem with conference delegates' voting cards.

On Friday the first minister Carwyn Jones warned his party would find it tough to avoid losses in May's local elections, having performed well in 2012.


Analysis by BBC Wales political editor Nick Servini

There were no shortages of jokes, historical references and old-fashioned Tory-bashing from Carwyn Jones in Llandudno.

He had some extra money to play with thanks to Philip Hammond's budget.

Carwyn Jones also made some big claims which deserve a closer look.

In a bullish section on the NHS, he said waiting times were going down - in some areas this may be the case but there has been no broad-based substantial reduction in waits.

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