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Welsh Government

The real dragon’s den? New scheme sets out to help young people start businesses

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The Welsh Government will support 1,200 young people to start their own business as part of plans to foster a new culture of entrepreneurship among young people in Wales, Economy Minister, Vaughan Gething announced today.

Announcing £5 million over the next three years to deliver on the self-employment aspect of the ambitious Young Person’s Guarantee, the Minister said supporting young entrepreneurs will form a vital part of making Wales a place where more young people feel confident in planning their future.

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The Welsh Government is determined that there will be no lost generation in Wales as a result of the Covid pandemic. The Young Person’s Guarantee will provide everyone under 25 in Wales with the offer of work, education, training, or self-employment.

The investment is included in the £20.9m a year commitment to extend the hugely successful Business Wales service beyond the end of EU funding in 2023.

Economy Minister Vaughan Gething said: “Encouraging young adults to stay in Wales by building their careers and launching their own businesses here will be instrumental as we re-design our economy post-coronavirus.

“We see this as the start of a new era, which is why we are taking bold action to build a vibrant economy that provides opportunities for all as we sustainability invest in the industries and services of the future.

“Our young people hold the key to Wales’ future success. Their talents, skills and creativity are essential to ensuring our economic success. I am determined we do all we can as a government to help deliver the long-term economic benefits our young people deserve for them all to fulfil their potential.

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“By working together towards the vision we have set out for a greener, fairer Wales we can pave a path to prosperity for all young people, regardless of background.”

The £5 million funding will build on the success of Big Ideas Wales, run by the Welsh Government’s Business Wales service, which provides learning through workshops led by entrepreneurs and a network of Champions to aide transition from Further and Higher Education into the world of work.

Specialist support will be provided through a new Young Person’s Start Up Grant of up to £2,000 per business. This will support 1,200 young people that are unemployed, left education or training in the early stage of business to become self-employed.

Pre and post start up support will also be available for one year, designed to help individuals overcome any barriers to starting a business, including one-to-one business advisory support, entrepreneur mentoring, business planning and financial management.

Twenty-year-old Neath Port Talbot entrepreneur Poppi Kingsepp recently launched her own catering business with help from Big Ideas Wales and a Barriers To Start Up Grant of £2,000 from Business Wales.

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She said: “Launching a business in the post-pandemic hospitality sector proved to be a challenge, especially for someone like myself who knew absolutely nothing about business. But Big Ideas Wales had so much valuable advice to offer me as a young entrepreneur and supplied me with the tools I needed to navigate this industry.

“I couldn’t have done it without the support of my business advisor, who turned up to each and every one of our weekly progress meetings armed with useful advice, helpful resources and lots of assets to help grow my business.”

Summer Start-Up Week 2022, a collaboration by Further and Higher Education institutions in partnership with Big Ideas Wales, began yesterday with more than 180 young people registered for the award-winning, free, online course to support young people’s transition from education into business.

The Economy Minister added: “The UK Government broke its promise to replace in full the EU money Wales was set to receive. The Welsh Government cannot replace the missing £1.1 billion but we are determined to support young people with the funding we do have. Our support is a down payment on the future success of a modern Welsh economy, powered by skilled workers and ambitious businesses.

“We will continue to press the UK government to back a Team Wales vision where talent is supported and the £1 billion promised to Wales is restored.”

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Transport

£48m ‘gap funding’ support package for Welsh bus industry

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The bus industry in Wales is set to receive a support package worth £48m to help them recover from the impact of the pandemic and deal with emerging financial challenges, the Welsh Government has announced today.

The Bus Emergency package will provide ‘gap funding’ until the end of this financial year for bus operators to maintain the necessary bus services and routes in their area, in return for greater public control over Welsh bus services.

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This funding is one of a number of short-term measures that have been taken by the Welsh Government to support bus operators at a time when they needed it the most. With the longer-term future of the bus industry in mind a review of the existing Bus Services Support Grant (BSSG) scheme will also be taken to consider how it can be used to move the industry away from a reliance on emergency funding schemes and bridge the gap to franchising.

Announcing the latest emergency funding package, Deputy Minister for Climate Change, with a responsibility for transport, Lee Waters said: “The bus industry is emerging from some of its toughest times, and we need to continue to provide support to help the industry recover and secure a healthy future.

“During the pandemic passenger numbers fell by around 90% and have still only returned to between 50% and 70% of pre-Covid levels, leaving operators struggling with reduced revenue and contending with the latest challenges of rising fuel and operating costs.

“The funding I’ve announced today will provide a short-term solution to help the industry to begin to recover from the challenges it has and continues to face whilst we develop a longer-term solution to tackle the gradual decline in passengers over the years.

“In March I set out our plans to bring forward legislation to change the way bus services are delivered across Wales. Throughout this process we will be working closely with local government, the bus industry and passengers, to design a system that is ‘easy to use, easy to access and well connected’ providing people a ‘real sustainable transport alternative’ to the private car.

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“We will provide an update on how these plans are progressing later this year.”

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Money

Over 500 teenagers in Wales to get £1600 a month in basic income trial

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The Welsh Government has launched its basic income trial scheme that sees it giving more than 500 people leaving care in Wales £1600 each month for two years – with no strings attached.

Equating to £19,200 a year before tax, it’s believed the cash offered is the highest amount provided on a basic income pilot anywhere in the world.

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The £20m scheme is controversial, and previous universal basic income trials in Kenya, Finland and California failed.

Welsh Social Justice Minister Jane Hutt says this particular scheme is a direct investment in the lives and futures of some of Wales’ most vulnerable young people.

The minister added that those taking part in the pilot will also receive individual advice and support to help them manage their finances and develop their financial and budgeting skills.

Local authorities will play a key role in supporting them throughout the pilot. Voices from Care Cymru will also work with the young people to give them advice on wellbeing, education, employment and help them plan their future after the pilot.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “We want all our young people to have the best possible chance in life and fulfil their full potential. The state is the guardian of people leaving care and so has a real obligation to support them as they start their adult life.

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“Our focus will be on opening up their world to all its possibilities and create an independence from services as their lives develop.

“Many of those involved in this pilot don’t have the support lots of people – myself included – have been lucky enough to enjoy as we started out on our path to adulthood.

“Our radical initiative will not only improve the lives of those taking part in the pilot, but will reap rewards for the rest of Welsh society. If we succeed in what we are attempting today this will be just the first step in what could be a journey that benefits generations to come.”

The Welsh Conservatives however have criticised the scheme as “giving out free money” and say it won’t help tackle the problems some vulnerable young people face.

Joel James, the Welsh Conservative shadow minister for social partnership 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.

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“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.

“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.”

Welsh Government Minister for Social Justice Jane Hutt said: “We’re in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis like no other and we therefore need new ways of supporting people who are most in need.

“Our Basic Income pilot is an incredibly exciting project giving financial stability to a generation of young people. Too many people leaving care face huge barriers to achieving their hopes and ambitions; such as problems with getting a safe and stable home, to securing a job and building a fulfilling career. This scheme will help people live a life free of such barriers and limitations.

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“We will carefully evaluate the lessons learnt from the pilot. Listening to everyone who takes part will be crucial in determining the success of this globally ambitious project. We will examine whether Basic Income is an efficient way to support society’s most vulnerable and not only benefit the individual, but wider society too.”

Tiff Evans of Voices from Care Cymru, speaking on behalf of young people who have experienced care, said: “This is a brilliant opportunity for care leavers in Wales. It is good to see that care leavers in Wales are being thought of and Welsh Government are providing this opportunity for them as young people to become responsible, control some parts of their lives and have a chance to thrive and be financially independent.

“We thank Welsh Government for investing in them and their future and we look forward to other changes and developments for care experienced young people in Wales in order for them to reach life aspirations.”

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Food & Drink

Proposal to ban tea and coffee for under 16s in Wales branded ‘illiberal’

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photo of person s hand pouring liquid to cup

Proposals to consider banning the sale of tea and coffee to under-16s in Wales have been labelled ‘outrageously illiberal’ by the Welsh Liberal Democrats.

The Welsh Labour Government reportedly confirmed that it is considering the move as part of plans to make young people healthier and stop rising obesity rates.

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The move comes as the Welsh Government raise concerns of the rising consumption of high-caffeine energy drinks among young people is also causing concern about the effects on their education.

Commenting Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds said: “It is beggars’ belief that this is even under consideration.

“We are all aware obesity is a serious problem in Wales and it is important that we take action to reduce the levels across Wales.

“However, it doesn’t take an expert consultation to realise that tea and coffee are not responsible for high obesity levels.

“It would be outrageously illiberal to ban the sale of coffee and tea to under 16-year-olds, something which they regularly drink themselves at home.”

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(Lead image: Elina Fairytale / Pexels.com)

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