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Welsh Government

Teenage care leavers to get £1,600 a month as part of Welsh basic income pilot scheme

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The Welsh Government have announced a basic income pilot scheme that looks to give 18 year olds leaving the care system £1,600 a month.

All young people leaving care who turn 18 during a 12 month period, across all local authority areas, will be offered the opportunity to take part in the pilot – with the Welsh Government anticipating over 500 young people will be eligible to join the scheme.

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The pilot will run for a minimum of three years with each member of the cohort receiving a basic income payment of £1600 per month for a duration of 24 months from the month after their 18th birthday. 

Outlining the reasoning behind the pilot, Minister for Social Justice Jane Hutt said: “Our Basic Income announcement today complements the Welsh Government’s ambition to ensure the most vulnerable in our society are supported. We know we’re in the midst of a cost of living crisis and we’re determined to continually look at how best to support individuals in Wales who live in poverty.

Care leavers have a right to be properly supported as they develop into independent young adults. It’s also important to note that this policy is underpinned by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), emphasising our commitment to strengthening the rights of children and young people in Wales.

Yet, too many young people leaving care continue to face significant barriers to achieving a successful transition into adulthood. Our Basic Income pilot is an exciting project to deliver financial stability for a generation of young people that need it most.

The pilot will build on the existing support offered to looked after children in Wales and ensure young people who take part in this pilot get all the support they need to give them the best possible chance to make their way in life and the transition out of care better, easier and more positive.

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We are fully committed to supporting those living in poverty, ensuring they receive adequate financial support so that everyone in Wales can live happy and healthy lives.”

Emphasising the importance of the pilot to care leavers, Catriona Williams OBE, Chair of Voices from Care Cymru said: “We are grateful to the Minister for the time she spent with young people from across Wales on Saturday to listen to their views about the Pilot. It is critical for it to succeed that the voices of care experienced children and young people are heard on decisions like this that directly affect their lives. We look forward to working with the Welsh Government to help ensure that the Pilot is successful and delivers the best possible outcomes for care experienced young people in Wales so they can thrive. “

The Welsh Government’s Technical Advisory Group on Basic Income, chaired by Professor Sir Michael Marmot said: “The Technical Advisory Group for the Welsh Basic Income Pilot want to put on record our support for this policy. Whilst we may have differing opinions on how a basic income can work on a wider scale, we can all agree that any scheme aimed at helping a particularly vulnerable group should be welcomed and intend to provide Welsh Government with the support it needs in making this a success.”

Finally, outlining the importance of measuring the results and ensuring the continued support for care leavers in Wales, the Minister stated: “The pilot is specifically being designed to enable participants to receive more than just a basic transfer of cash; support will also be offered that is designed to build up their confidence to negotiate the world outside of care.

This extra support will include, for instance, financial well-being training and signposting to all available support provided by Welsh Government and other partner organisations.

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I want to thank all the stakeholders, experts and partner organisations that have made this a reality. We’re committed to delivering for the people of Wales and ensuring we support the most vulnerable in our society.

Our basic income pilot delivers for young people leaving care in Wales and emphasises our commitment to tackling the scourge of poverty.”

The decision to go-ahead with a Basic Income trial has been criticised by the Welsh Conservatives.

Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for Social Partnership, Joel James MS, said: “Whilst I wholeheartedly support helping the poorest and most vulnerable in our country, the Labour Government is not even close to living in reality with this trial.

“Countless trials from across the globe have found Basic Income does not have the expected outcomes as it fails to incentivise work and proves time after time to be a waste of public money.

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“If rolled-out across the board with every adult in Wales receiving £1,600 a month it would cost nearly £50 billion a year, and at the same time reward the wealthiest in society rather than helping those who need it most.

“Our NHS is at breaking point and our economy is in a fragile state, but instead of tackling those issues head-on, Labour are more interested in Basic Income – which will cost the country an absolute fortune.”

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Cycling

Minister announces £50m investment to encourage cycle use

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Getting people out of cars and on to bikes is the aim of a £50m investment announced by Deputy Climate Change Minister Lee Waters.

Speaking on a visit to Cardiff-based cycling charity Pedal Power, the Deputy Minister said the money would fund cycling routes and new facilities right across Wales.

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Deputy Minister for Climate Change, with a responsibility for Transport, Lee Waters said: “This is a substantial investment and part of our commitment to making cycling easier so people cut the amount of journeys they take by car and travel in a way that is better for our planet.

“Getting people out of cars for short journeys and encouraging them to walk or cycle instead is a huge challenge for us, but one that has to be met if we are to reach our net zero carbon emission target by 2050.

“We need to make sure that we have the right infrastructure and routes in place so that people have the choice of cycling for their everyday journeys – we need to make the right thing to do, the easy thing to do.”

One organisation that is benefiting from this investment is Pedal Power in South Wales.

As part of a series of Welsh Government e-bike pilot schemes, the cycling charity received £0.21m for its ‘See Cycling Differently’ project which is aimed at increasing the inclusivity of cycling by offering a range of e-cycles.

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Thanks to the money received the charity has expanded its e-cycle fleet and is encouraging its users to cycle more.  

Jeff Mayle, Pedal Power use and Deputy Minister Lee Waters

Director of Pedal Power, Cardiff, Sian Donovan said: “Cycling is a fantastic way for everyone – all ages and abilities – to have fun, gain more independence and enjoy a sense of freedom which we know has provided a lifeline to many during the pandemic.

“We were delighted to receive funding from the Welsh Government to help us to continue to remove barriers to cycling so that it can be truly accessible and inclusive for all.”

As part of the investment announced today, all local authorities will receive a minimum of £500k with additional allocations having been awarded based on the outcome of a competitive application process.

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Business

Welsh and UK Governments agree to establish Freeports in Wales

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The Welsh Government has reached agreement with the UK Government on the establishment of Freeports in Wales.

Welsh Ministers have agreed to support Freeport policies in Wales following the UK Government’s agreement to meet the Welsh Government’s demands that UK Ministers provide at least £26m of non-repayable starter funding for any Freeport established in Wales, which represents a parity with the deals offered to English Freeports.

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The UK Government have agreed to meet a number of other demands – including that both Governments will act on the basis of a ‘partnership of equals’ to deliver any Freeports in Wales.

In addition, both Governments have agreed a Freeport will only be implemented if it can be demonstrated clearly it will operate in a manner that aligns with the Welsh Government’s policies on fair work and environmental sustainability, including the commitment to Wales becoming a net-zero carbon nation.

Economy Minister, Vaughan Gething said: “Following considerable engagement between our Governments, I’m pleased we have been able to reach agreement with UK Ministers to establish Freeports in Wales. The agreement we have reached is fair to Wales, and respects the Welsh Government’s responsibilities in devolved policy areas.

“However, we have made it clear to the UK Government that a Freeport will only be implemented if it can be demonstrated, using robust evidence and analysis, that it will support our fair work agenda and deliver long-term, sustainable benefits for Wales, and value for money for Welsh taxpayers.

“I very much hope that the UK Government’s willingness to work with the Welsh Government as equals on Freeports can provide a positive model for future co-operation between our governments on other initiatives.”

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The UK Government’s Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Michael Gove said: “I am delighted that Wales is the latest area in the UK set to benefit from a new Freeport.

“The UK Government’s ambitious Freeports agenda will help to level up our coastal communities and create new opportunities for people right across the country.

“Together with the Welsh Government, I look forward to seeing innovative proposals come forward that demonstrate tangible benefits for the people of Wales.”

In addition, Welsh and UK Ministers have agreed that the UK Government will provide tax incentives for Freeports in Wales in parity with Freeports in other parts of the United Kingdom for the reserved taxes that have been designated to advance the policy aims. The Welsh Government will design tax reliefs from local and devolved taxes (Non-Domestic Rates and Land Transaction Tax) to support the policy aims.

Both Governments say they will remain open to the possibility of a multi-site Freeport in Wales. In recognition of Wales’ unique economic geography and the Welsh Government’s aspirations for economic development in Wales, the UK Government is willing to relax the 45 km boundary limit for a multi-site Freeport solution, should there be a sufficiently compelling case for doing so.

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Both Governments will also remain open to the possibility of allowing more than one Freeport in Wales, should they be presented with a sufficiently compelling business case.

As with English Freeports, a fair and open competitive process will be used to determine where the policy should be implemented in Wales. Both Governments will work together to co-design the process for Freeport site selection, and both will have an equal say in all decisions throughout the implementation process. This includes the final decision on site selection.

Both Governments have begun the process of designing the bid prospectus for the competition and further details about the timing of next steps will be released in due course.

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Welsh Government

Welsh Government plans to set up a supervisory authority to oversee coal tip safety

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Climate Change Minister Julie James has set out plans to introduce a new law to manage the legacy of centuries of mining in Wales which put “community safety at the forefront.”

The Minister confirmed the Welsh Government will recommend the creation of a supervisory authority to oversee the new regime, which will ensure management arrangements are in place for the highest-category tips as well as compile and maintain a new national asset register.

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The full proposals, which also include a new national approach to the categorisation of tips, follow a recent report by the Law Commission which provided valuable evidence to help shape a White Paper released today.

Minister for Climate Change, Julie James said: “Wales has a proud mining heritage, but I understand the nervousness felt by those living in the shadow of coal tips. Due to increased risks from the climate emergency, it’s clear the current coal tip safety law is no longer fit-for-purpose.

“The Welsh Government is committed to introducing legislation during this Senedd to ensure people can feel safe and secure in their own homes, within communities that were vital in firing up the industrial revolution.

“We have put these people at the heart of our proposals for a whole new regime, while ensuring we protect critical infrastructure and continue to care for our environment.”

A new national approach to the categorisation of tips will be led by the new supervisory authority, who would arrange tailored hazard assessments for each site to scope the threats a tip might pose, with a management plan then agreed.

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While the new supervisory authority would ensure management arrangements are in place for the highest category tips, it would introduce maintenance agreements for those in lower category sites.

The Welsh Government say that addressing the lack of enforcement powers within the existing legislation is also key. They say this would include allowing rights of access for inspections, upkeep, or remedial works, with civil sanctions imposed when the new legislation is not complied with.

The White Paper consultation on the Welsh Government’s proposals for coal tip safety is now open and will run for 12 weeks.

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