A cross government approach to boosting prosperity across Wales is key to ensuring the long term future of our communities, the Communities and Children Secretary Carl Sargeant said today.
Delivering an Oral Statement to the Assembly, the Cabinet Secretary made it clear that creating a more prosperous nation of resilient communities is the responsibility of every part of the Welsh Government, which is:
- creating 100,000 all-age apprenticeships;
- piloting a Better Jobs Closer to Home project, designed to create employment and training hubs in areas of high economic deprivation;
- delivering the most generous childcare offer for working parents anywhere in the UK;
- establishing a ministerial taskforce to develop a fresh approach to improving prosperity in the South Wales Valleys;
- creating the Metros in North and South Wales
- ensuring every child gets the best start in life through an extended Pupil Deprivation Grant; and
- carrying forward work on financial inclusion, including support for advice services credit unions and promotion of financial literacy.
The Cabinet Secretary said:
“Within my portfolio, my priorities are wellbeing and economic prosperity. I am absolutely determined to meet them. To do that, I firmly believe it is time for a new approach to building resilient communities.
“While Communities First has supported people in some of our most deprived areas over the last fifteen years, I am not convinced that continuing to focus on 52 small areas is the most effective way to deliver for Wales.
“I am minded to phase out the Communities First programme while establishing a new approach to meet the challenges of the future. The new approach will focus on three key areas of employment, early years, and empowerment.
“Over the coming months, we will look afresh at how the Welsh Government can support resilient communities. This means communities that are empowered and engaged; communities that are ready and able to work; communities that can offer children the best start in life.”
“On Employment, I want to see communities that have access to jobs and people with the right skills and support to fill them. We have made a major commitment to Lift and Communities for Work, and I can confirm these important employment programmes will continue as planned.
“For Early Years, we can do more to protect children from the impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences which are a major threat to well-being and economic prosperity.
“I am inviting organisations to join with us to develop Children’s Zones for Wales which will see organisations collaborating seamlessly to improve the lives of children and young people and, along with Flying Start and Families First, will support them to get the best possible start in life.
“In terms of Empowerment, I want resilient communities to have strong local infrastructure and strong and inclusive leadership. Local Authorities and Public Service Boards (PSBs) must now step into this leadership role. I will engage, challenge and support them to deliver success.”
The Communities Secretary said he would be seeking views on how to engage, support and strengthen communities through the new, proposed approach.
“We cannot duck the new and serious challenges we face. Rather, we must find fresh ways to respond. Beginning now, we will engage internal and external stakeholders on our future approach, including the proposal to phase out Communities First and how we continue to deliver Communities for Work and Lift.”