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Minister pledges simpler, more focused EU projects

Welsh Finance Minister Jane Hutt says the next round of programmes funded by European money must be more flexible, simpler and 'more focused' than in previous years. She was responding to the news that agreement has been reached paving the way for a new programme of funding worth £2bn to Wales.

She also said Welsh Government plans for a Metro scheme linking public transport in south eastern parts of Wales will be a likely beneficiary of the money.

European aid will have a real impact says minister

The Welsh Government has welcomed the agreement on how the next £2 billion of European aid will be spent in Wales. The minister who negotiated the deal, Jane Hutt, says that it will deliver real economic growth and jobs.

This announcement is a significant milestone with the European Commission confirming Structural Fund allocations to Wales of over £2 billion. This is great news for Wales and this new EU funding will have a real impact on the Welsh economy and job creation. It will help us deliver more innovative and inspiring EU-funded projects.

– Finance Minister Jane Hutt AM

There's been criticism that previous rounds of European aid have been spent on too many small projects, which though worthwhile in themselves did not improve the prosperity of West Wales and the Valleys. The area remains one of the poorest parts of the entire European Union.

Whilst this funding will be welcomed, we must not forget that it has only been granted due to the failure of successive Welsh Labour Governments to improve Wales’ economic performance in previous tranches. Back in 2000, former First Minister Rhodri Morgan described Objective 1 funding as a ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity. Well here we are again, and under Welsh Labour parts of Wales remain amongst the poorest areas in the EU, never mind the United Kingdom

– Welsh Conservative Leader Andrew RT Davies AM

One of the main beneficiaries of the new funding will be the South East Wales metro plan to improve public transport, after the Welsh Government successfully argued in Brussels that some of the money had to be spent on transport if the aid programme was to achieve any lasting economic improvement.

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Average house now £189,000 as prices hit all-time high

House prices hit an all-time high this month as the price of the average property reached £189,333, according to Nationwide Building Society.

Values were up 9% compared to the same time in 2013, although a slowdown in the year-on-year price growth means the market may be cooling.

Year-on-year house price growth had consistently been in double digits over the summer as house prices hit a string of new all-time highs

Sales were lower in September than at the start of the year, according to Nationwide. Credit: Chris Ison/PA Wire

The more modest year-on-year growth in October led Nationwide's chief economist, Robert Gardner, to say the market appears to have "lost momentum".

"The number of mortgages approved for house purchase in September was almost 20% below the level prevailing at the start of the year," he added.

Deal struck on European aid

The funding runs from 2014 to 2020. Credit: Tim Goode/EMPICS Entertainment

A deal's been formally struck for Wales to get almost £2bn of European aid.

The cash, over the next six years, will be used to help tackle unemployment and boost economic growth.

Another £509m pounds will be used for rural development.

Through thematic concentration, the Welsh Authorities aim to ensure that tailored interventions are made in areas which provide the highest added value and opportunities for growth and jobs. The Welsh investment strategy builds on the significant contribution Wales is already making to help the EU meet its goals of smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. The Welsh Authorities now have a firm basis in this Partnership Agreement to provide strategic direction to future programmes that will exploit innovation, transform the economy into a model for sustainable growth, encourage the exploitation of renewable energy sources and strengthen the skills of the population.

– Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn

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Public consultation on Wylfa power station begins

Horizon Nuclear Power, the company established to develop the new nuclear power station at Wylfa on Anglesey, has today set out how people can have their say on building plans.

The talks will pave the way for weeks of future consultation on building plans. Credit: ITV Wales News

The first phase of public consultation begins later, paving the way for a further ten weeks of talks regarding the proposed multi-billion pound Wylfa Newydd power station.

It is crucial that people have the opportunity to have their say on our proposals. Wylfa Newydd is a major investment in the region and brings with it a wide range of benefits, from the economic to the educational, so we want to encourage people to take the time to get involved and understand what the project means for them, for the local area, and for Wales and the UK more widely.

– Alan Raymant, Horizon Chief Operating Officer

Thousands find work in Wales thanks to programme

Over 12,000 young people across Wales have managed to find work thanks to a Welsh Government programme.

Thousands have found work thanks to the programme. Credit: Philip Toscano/PA Wire

Jobs Growth Wales began in April 2012 and provides unemployed people aged 16-24 with a job opportunity for 6 months.

Today's statistics show that almost 8 out of 10 Job Growth Wales opportunities have been taken up in the private sector and that after the six month programme, 83% of participants moved into sustained employment, an apprenticeship or further learning.

"It's very encouraging that so many employers in the private sector see how they can benefit by taking on young employees. Many young people finishing their six month's opportunity with a private sector employer go on to a full-time job or apprenticeship with them."

– Julie James, Deputy Skills and Technology Minister
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