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Extra funding for out-of-school childcare

Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Communities and Tackling Poverty Minister, Lesley Griffiths, has announced £400,000 to provide out-of-school childcare for families across Wales.

The funding, which the Welsh Government says is on top of £2.3 million already provided, is aimed at gaps in childcare provision across Wales.

Projects set to get extra funding include childcare centres in Caerphilly and Conwy which will provide play workshops for local children.

Providing quality childcare and improving parents’ access to it is one of my top priorities. Childcare facilities are not just simply a place to go while parents are at work, they are also about improving the lives of children, especially those from our deprived communities.

Childcare not only plays a central role in improving children’s well-being and reducing inequalities, it is also vital to ensuring parents are able to access employment and training opportunities.

– Lesley Griffiths AM, Communities and Tackling Poverty Minister

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Families with disabled children struggle to make ends meet

Families with disabled children are having to go without food and heating due to the high costs of raising a disabled child and cuts in financial support.

That's according to a recent survey by the charity Contact a Family, which asked 210 families of disabled children about their financial situation.

More than half said they were worried about their finances, with forty percent saying they had been forced to take out a loan in the last year to pay for things like heating and food.

Contact a Family is now calling on the UK Government to make changes to the welfare system help families with childcare costs and utilities.

The Department for Work and Pensions say the are committed to supporting disabled people and their families, spending around £50bn a year on disabled people and their services.

"These money worries are putting huge emotional and mental strain on the families we work with. The impact is affecting their health, relationships and in some cases is making their child's condition worse.

– Richard Jones, Manager of Contact a Family Wales
families surveyed have extra costs relating to their child's disability of £300 every month Credit: PA
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£10,000 pay rise for AMs proposed

Assembly members will get a pay rise of nearly £10,000 a year under proposals from the independent body set up to decide their salaries. AMs are currently paid £53,852, due to rise to £54,390 next year. An increase to £64,000 would be implemented after the next Assembly election in 2016.

The Remuneration Board says AMs increased powers in the next Assembly justify the increase but their pension scheme will be made less generous. Even so, the overall package will be worth 10.4%.

AMs' pay was frozen after the last election in 2011 but they will get a 1% rise next year, which is similar to what's happened to Welsh NHS workers pay, although their pay packets are usually a lot smaller.

Credit: PA

The most highly paid politician in the Assembly will remain the First Minister. Carwyn Jones' salary will go up from £135,260 to £140,000 if he keeps his job after the election. The pension cut means that his overall package will actually shrink by more than 2%, as will also be the case for other ministers.

The chair of the Remuneration Board, Sandy Blair, said they felt they couldn't suggest a bigger increase for the First Minister as that would have pushed his salary above the £142,500 paid to the Prime Minister. There will now be a public consultation before the Board makes its final decision. It will then be implemented automatically, following a decision by AMs that they would no longer vote on their own pay increases.

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Welsh Housing Associations contributed £2bn to economy last year

The Welsh Government have set a target to provide 10,000 affordable homes by the end of this Government term Credit: PA

Welsh Housing Associations contributed around £2bn to the economy last year, according to an independent report by Cardiff University.

The report indicates that the sector provided 1,850 new affordable homes, and is on target to meet its target of 10,000 for this Government term.

The housing sector employs more than 8,000 people in Wales.

Against a backdrop of austerity, cuts to public expenditure and the challenges brought about by welfare reform, our sector has continued to invest heavily in the services for tenants and communities and our economic impact continues to grow.

– Stuart Ropke, Community Housing Cymru

Cardiff University secures Living Wage accreditation

Cardiff University has become the first university in Wales to be accredited as a Living Wage employer.

It means all staff will receive a minimum hourly wage significantly higher than the national minimum wage of £6.50.

It is a matter of basic fairness that people should get a wage which is enough to live on.

Securing accreditation as an official Living Wage Employer sends a clear message that we value our staff and we hope we will act as an example to other Welsh employers.

– Professor Colin Riordan, Vice-Chancellor, Cardiff University

Plans show how Cardiff city centre will look in future

There will be a new direct pedestrian route from the Square to the Millennium Stadium which will be known as Millennium Walkway

Plans have been unveiled which show how Cardiff city centre could look in the future, after a multi-million pound renovation.

The development includes over a million square feet of office, retail and residential buildings around a new civic square. It will also feature a new walkway from Cardiff Central Station to the Millennium Stadium.

The development incorporates over a million square feet of office, retail and residential buildings

At the centre of the development is the proposed new BBC Wales HQ, which, subject to planning, is scheduled for completion in 2017.

Nine out of ten patients seen within target times says Welsh Government

The Welsh Government has responded to claims by the Liberal Democratsthat figures show increasing numbers of patients waiting more than a year for their initial treatment. A spokesperson has said:

Since devolution in 1999, there has been almost a 70% reduction in the number of patients waiting more than a year from initial referral by their GP to treatment.

More people are being treated in the Welsh NHS today than at any time since its creation. Last year, nearly five million patients were seen by the Welsh NHS in a hospital setting.

We expect all patients to be treated in order of clinical priority, within the set target time. The latest figures show the vast majority of patients - nearly nine out of 10 - are seen within target time.

– Welsh Government spokesperson
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