Minister for Housing, Regeneration and Heritage, Huw Lewis has launched 'Vibrant and Viable Places: New Regeneration Framework' - which changes the way regeneration is delivered across Wales.

The Framework sets out a new approach to regeneration that will see investment of up to £30m a year made available with all of Wales being able to apply for funding - not just the current Regeneration Areas.

This content is from the Welsh Government website - you can read the rest of the article here.

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The Welsh Government has laid a bill before the National Assembly for Wales requiring local authorities to make walking and cycling safer and easier.

  
The Active Travel Bill requires local authorities to plan ‘active travel networks’. This means they must:
• Identify routes within their areas that are safe and appropriate for walking and cycling;
• Highlight what is required to create a fully integrated network for walking and cycling;
• Deliver an enhanced network (subject to budget availability and following due process);
• Consider the potential for walking and cycling provision when developing new roads.

  

Councils will need to connect key sites such as hospitals and schools with traffic-free routes and cycle lanes.

  
The Bill is now being scrutinized by Assembly Members. Carl Sargeant AM, Minister for Transport, said: ‘The Bill aims to make it easier and safer for more people to walk and cycle and to make it possible for more children to cycle to school every day. We want to make walking and cycling the most natural and normal way of getting about and to ensure that active travel is a viable mode of transport.’

 
Lee Waters, Director of Sustrans Cymru, added: ‘There is a real potential to get people walking and cycling more for short journeys to improve their health and environment. This landmark Bill is a very practical initiative and has the potential to make a real difference to communities across Wales.

  
‘However, we know from experience in the UK and Europe that routes alone are not enough. For the Bill to reach its full potential it must support additional programmes, such as effective promotion, travel planning or adult cycle training.’

  
Sustrans Cymru has been running a number of schemes with the aim of reducing car travel. One such Welsh Government funded project has seen car use in north Cardiff cut by eight per cent, an increase of a quarter in journeys made by public transport and a trebling in journeys made by bicycle.

 
Residents were offered a pack detailing travel information for their regular journeys, including bus timetables and maps of local cycle routes.

  
Another scheme, Bike It – run in conjunction with the Welsh Government – has been running in schools, promoting the benefits of cycling to pupils and developing their skills.

A new fund will make £1m available in small loans to support the growth of social enterprise in Wales.
The Wales Micro-business Loan Fund is investing a total of £6m to support small and medium sized enterprises over the next five years – with £1m earmarked for the third sector.
The Fund was launched this month by the Welsh Government through Finance Wales and the social enterprise element will be managed by WCVA in partnership with the Coalfields Regeneration Trust and Cardiff & Vale Credit Union (representing ABCUL Credit Unions).
Loans of between £1,000 and £20,000 will be made to third sector organisations looking to develop their revenue generating activities.
WCVA Chief Executive Graham Benfield said: ‘We are delighted that Finance Wales has made £1m of this Fund available for social enterprise in Wales.

‘Alongside the Communities Investment Fund and our recently launched Property Loan Fund with
Unity Trust Bank, there is now a complete range of small, medium and large sized loan finance packages specific to the third sector in Wales through WCVA.
‘We envisage this Fund making around 100 small loans over the next five years and finance of this nature will have a big impact on supporting the growth of organisations and safeguarding services in difficult economic conditions.
‘Social enterprise is a growing movement that is creating jobs, prosperity and social justice. It’s
important in Wales that these enterprises flourish so that they can continue to invest in local people and communities.’
Spokesperson for ABCUL Credit Unions, Alun Taylor, added: ‘This is a unique opportunity for Credit Unions in Wales to enter the business loan finance market for the first time to help grow local economies and achieve sustainable growth.’
Mike Owen, New Investments Fund Manager at Finance Wales commented: ‘The Wales Micro-business Loan Fund has made a significant amount of additional investment capital available to Wales’ third sector.

‘WCVA is a well-regarded organisation with a strong track and it is well-placed to help Wales’ social enterprises make the most of the loans on offer from the Fund.’
The Fund will be open until 2018 with maximum loan repayment terms of five years. To find out more about the Wales Micro-business Loan Fund, visit the WCVA website at www.wcva.org.uk or contact the WCVA Helpdesk on 0800 2888 329 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The 'Hard to Swallow: the Facts about Food Poverty' report, conducted on behalf of Kellogg’s by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR), attempts to measure food poverty, and considers the implications for shoppers, businesses and government.
The findings "show food poverty in the UK is increasing, with a significant impact on families already struggling to meet basic nutritional needs." You can download the report here.

You may also be interested in reading an article in Wales Online entitled "One in five in Wales 'have skipped meals' due to money problems".