The level of inequality and lack of social justice remain at the heart of our challenges and problems in society. Politics and government offers the opportunity to tackle these issues.

The UK government announced last week that once again the economy had shrunk, sparking fears of a 'triple-dip' recession. Official unemployment stands at 2.49 million, average living standards for those in work are falling, and the UK government's welfare changes - like the 'bedroom tax' - are going to hit some of the poorest families hard.

There was some better news last week however, for those of us who do believe governments can take action against poverty. The Welsh Government has funded Communities First projects for a long time and last week announced further funding of £20.5 million for 15 'clusters' across Wales as part of our tackling poverty programme. 4 of these clusters are in Newport.

In total, projects in Newport will get over £5 million for community organisations to tackle poverty and help the most vulnerable.

Ringland was one of the first areas in Wales to get Communities First funding, and so I'm very pleased that projects in Newport have been included in this round.

The important thing about Communities First is that local people must be involved. Residents, community organisations, business and other key agencies in the 'clusters' work together to help their area.

Because involving residents and community groups in all aspects of the work is an essential part of the programme, it can lead to real change at the grassroots.

It is good to remember, in times when the UK picture can feel very gloomy, that locally there are things that can be done and the fight against poverty and inequality continues. The Welsh Government is committed to increasing equality of opportunity and equality of outcome in Wales.

I want to thank all the workers, in the Council and emergency services, who kept going during the snow we have had recently. Whenever there is heavy snow and ice, there will be disruption and some of this can't be avoided. But a lot of work went in to clear main roads and keep our emergency services going. They deserve our thanks.