Plaid Cymru's Rhun ap Lorwerth AM has outlined how Wales' low-wage economy can be overturned.
Highlighting figures on average wages in Wales, Rhun ap Iorwerth said that Welsh wages were on average £2,000 lower per year than the rest of the UK.
He said employment levels in Wales matched UK average levels but jobs are generally of lower quality in Wales, resulting in lower wages.
The average weekly wage in Wales is £383.30 per week, compared to the UK average of £417.90.
We need to make sure that the Welsh workforce has the skills that business needs, so that we can begin to drive up Welsh wages.
That needs to start with education. We need to teach ourselves the skills that business wants, and to do that Plaid Cymru is working in partnership with industry to ensure that Welsh apprenticeships and skills training offer the skills they need.
The wage gap has grown because of a lack of investment in Wales by successive governments formed by London-based parties and it is high time that Wales took control the powers we need to create a thriving business environment, and quality well-paid work.
The Welsh Government says it is continuing to work to close the historic wage gap by attracting investment, creating jobs and promoting economic growth.
"We are working closely with the business community to ensure that education in Wales provides young people with the skills they need to succeed in the workplace. Separately Professor Graham Donaldson is currently undertaking a wide-ranging independent review of curriculum and assessment arrangements to ensure learners gain the skills they need to succeed in a modern and quickly evolving world."
Over £30 million is to be invested into some of Wales' most deprived areas.
The Welsh Government announced the funding will be given to its Communities First programme which will help 52 areas across the country.
The £31.7 million will support the most vulnerable by combating poverty and promoting education, health and economic prosperity.
Areas across Wales will benefit from the funding between April 2015 and March 2016
Providing £31.7 million for our Communities First programme during a time of unprecedented budget cuts shows the Welsh Government is committed to supporting our most vulnerable communities and narrowing the economic, education and health gaps between our most deprived and affluent areas. Far too many people’s lives are affected by poverty. Too many families have nobody working and cannot afford basic essentials such as heating their home during this cold weather. Addressing this issue is a priority for me and the Government as a whole.
The breakdown of funding is as follows:
- Anglesey County Council - £662,200
- Bridgend County Borough Council - £1,738,317
- Caerphilly County Borough Council - £2,902,016
- City of Cardiff Council - £2,984,094
- Carmarthenshire County Council - £580,007
- City and County of Swansea - £2,844,812
- Conwy County Borough Council - £580,381
- Flintshire County Council - £676,315
- Gwynedd County Council - £576,675
- Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council - £1,888,535
- Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council - £1,729,229
- Newport City Council - £2,391,530
- NSA Afan - £526,800
- Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council - £4,850,025
- The Co-operative Group - £2,584,539
- Torfaen County Borough Council - £1,302,452
- Vale of Glamorgan Council - £580,922
- Wrexham County Borough Council - £1,252,447
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.
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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.
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.
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 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.
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.