Assembly Voice: 18 April 2018

Supporting our town centres is an issue that we all feel strongly about. I’m delighted that out of the Welsh Government’s £8million Town Centre Loans Fund, nearly £2million has been allocated to Aberdare and Pontypridd. The Loans Fund aims to revitalise high streets up and down Wales – in Aberdare this money will be used to develop vacant properties in the town centre. This will improve eye sore properties and make the town centre a better place to shop.

The Welsh Government have also announced an extra £5million to extend their very popular high street rates relief scheme in 2018-19 – helping shops and pubs in Cynon Valley which are affected by the current economic conditions and competition from online and out-of-town providers to pay their business rates.

Both of these schemes show the innovative vision the Welsh Government has to deliver diversified town centres across the country, which will hopefully create the right environment for businesses to grow and thrive.

As part of my ongoing work on this issue, I am also sponsoring an event in the National Assembly for Wales for the Carnegie UK Trust. This event will consider how we can shape public policy to best support our towns, exploring the current opportunities for Welsh towns but also challenges such as changes to employment and an ageing population.

As the effects of Tory austerity continue to bite, it is a shocking fact that one in four 14-21 year old girls and women struggle to afford sanitary wear. Research shows this can lead to absenteeism from school and college. I’m pleased that the Welsh Government has allocated £1 million to help address period poverty and provide girls and young women with dignity in schools.

£440,000 will be given to local authorities over the next two years to tackle period poverty in communities where levels of deprivation are highest. An extra £700,000 of funding will be used to improve facilities and equipment in schools – ensuring that all girls and young women can access good sanitary facilities when they need them.