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'Multi million pound investment' for Merthyr and RTC

The Deputy Minister for Tackling Poverty, Vaughan Gething, will highlight more than £20 million of Welsh Government investment over the next two years to support Merthyr Tydfil and Rhondda Cynon Taff's most deprived communities.

Speaking at a special event looking at efforts to address poverty in south Wales, he will outline the number of initiatives in place to help the most vulnerable and improve their life chances.

The Welsh Government is facing unprecedented cuts. By 2015 -16 our budget will be nearly £1.7 billion less than it was in 2010 - 11.

Despite this, we are determined to invest in our most deprived communities to help improve health, education and life chances.

That is why we have a multi-million pound investment support package in Merthyr Tydfil and Rhondda Cynon Taff. We are committed to helping people have a better chance of finding work and supporting parents facing the reality of managing on tight budget.

We know that the UK Government's welfare reform agenda is hitting hard with less help for hardworking parents as cuts to tax credits, cuts in help with childcare costs and the bedroom tax really bite.

The Welsh Government's approach is based on a different set of values and priorities. We know that to make the biggest possible difference to people's lives all of us across the public and voluntary sector need to work together much more effectively.

– Vaughan Gething, Deputy Minister for Tackling Poverty

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Welsh Govt investment to help deprived communities

More than £20m is being invested to support Merthyr and Rhondda Cynon Taff's most deprived communities Credit: PA

The Welsh Government is investing more than £20 million over the next two years to support Merthyr Tydfil and Rhondda Cynon Taff's most deprived communities, the Deputy Minister for Tackling Poverty Vaughan Gething will highlight today.

The minister will outline the number of initiatives in place to help the most vulnerable and improve their life chances.

The investment includes the Welsh Government's flagship programme to help those living in the poorest areas of Wales, Communities First.

It works to improve health, prosperity and encourages access to education and learning. Communities First in Merthyr Tydfil will receive £1.9 million, while Rhondda Cynon Taff will get £5 million.

The policy works alongside 'Families First' which is aimed at improving the way agencies work together and places a clear emphasis on early intervention for families, particularly those living in poverty, to help stop problems from escalating towards crisis.

Merthyr Tydfil is to receive £1,170,000 for Families First, while Rhondda Cynon Taff £3.8 million.

Both areas will also benefit from the expansion of Flying Start that supports children have the right start in life.

It provides eligible parents free quality childcare for children under the age of four, parenting support, an enhanced health visitor service and help with their children's early language development.

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Protest held over changes to school catchment areas

Around 300 people turned out for today's march Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

Around 300 people have held a protest in Pontyclun today about proposed changes to school catchment areas, which could see pupils attending a different school.

Protesters outside Y Pant Comprehensive Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

At the moment, pupils in Llantrisant go to Y Pant Comprehensive, but under plans being considered by Rhondda Cynon Taf Council, pupils from Llantrisant and Penygawsi primary schools would be moved to Bryncelynnog in the future.

Parents say they're not happy at the idea, due to the distances involved to get to the school.

A spokesman for RCT Council say they're in the process of a consultation, and will take all views on board.

Nursery cutbacks not sent back for reconsideration

Controversial plans to reduce the amount of time younger children spend in nursery classes in Rhondda Cynon Taf have moved another step closer today, after the council's Education and Lifelong Learning Scrutiny Committee voted not to refer the proposals back to cabinet for reconsideration.

Three opposition councillors had called in the cabinet's decision to go ahead with the plans, concerned about several issues including how there had been "no consideration of the emotional effect" on the children, and "no consideration of the wider economic effects on families."

Parents and children protested against the nursery cutbacks in November.

Watch: Hundreds march to oppose Valleys nursery cutbacks

Rhondda Cynon Taf Council's cabinet voted to press ahead with the changes last week, which will see the end of full-time nursery provision for three-year-old children, with youngsters attending full-time from the term after their fourth birthday.

Read More: Cabinet gives go-ahead to controversial nursery plans

It did make amendments, after widespread opposition from parents - with the changes due to be phased in from September, rather than April as originally proposed.

The council says it needs to make budget savings of £70m over four years - and its proposals for nursery provision are still above the statutory minimum.

A group of parents have said they will seek a judicial review against the council's actions.

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