Jane Hutt AM, Minister for Finance and Government Business
Today I am pleased to announce the latest round of projects which will be supported by the Welsh Government’s Invest to Save Fund. A total of 10 projects will be funded with an aggregate value of approximately £5 million. As well as representing significant investments in energy efficiency schemes, some of the projects represent examples of preventative investments which have the potential to make a significant impact on some areas of public expenditure and the lives and well being of communities across Wales.
These new projects bring the total number of projects supported to over 130 with an aggregate financial value of almost £125 million. Since the Fund was introduced it has become an important source of finance for the public sector. Whilst one of the main objectives of the Fund is to generate cash releasing savings, many of the investments have also enabled the development of innovative and leading edge models of service delivery.
The Fund is supporting two pilot projects, the first of which is the Safe as Houses initiative being led by Mid and West Wales Fire Service. A small team of officials drawn from the health, police, fire and rescue service and local government will help the elderly and vulnerable to minimise health and security risks in their homes. The second pilot is being led by Torfaen County Borough Council and Bron Afon Housing Association. This project will work with vulnerable families who have complex issues and try to reduce the incidence of more expensive statutory interventions. Both projects are excellent examples of thinking more about the long-term, taking forward a preventative and integrated approaches to public service reform, through a more joined-up approach.
£280,000 will be provided for the Mid Wales Fire and Rescue Service for the Safe as Houses initiative. The joined-up nature of the project will allow the assessment of both health and security risks in properties with the aim of reducing the incidence of hospital admissions, ill health and crime. This is a ground breaking initiative and has the potential to lead to significant savings and improvements in the quality of life for many of the elderly and vulnerable citizens in communities across Wales.
£465,000 will be provided for the project being led by Torfaen County Borough Council and Bron Afon Housing Association. The potential for savings is significant and we will be working closely with Torfaen and Bron Afon to maximise the impact of the project and assess its suitability for adoption on a much wider scale.
Other projects being supported include:
- £281,000 for Hywel Dda University Health Board which will allow the upgrading of all medical infusion pumps in the Board’s area. This project will provide cash releasing savings of £228,000 per annum and also reduce clinical risks;
- £278,000 for Powys Teaching Health Board to establish a Children’s Continuing Care unit. This will reduce the reliance on expensive external staff and provide cash releasing benefits of £309,000 per annum; and
- £1 million for Natural Resources Wales to implement improved revenue collection systems and provide cash releasing savings of £800,000 per annum;
The latest round of successful projects also continues our investment in energy efficiency initiatives and we are supporting the following projects:
- £1.4 million for Carmarthenshire County Council which will help fund the replacement of 12,000 traditional street lighting sodium units with LED units. As well as providing annual cash releasing savings in the region of £400,000 per annum, the investment also improves road safety;
- £165,000 for the Mid Wales Fire and Rescue Service which will enable the conversion of every fire station in the region to LED lighting;
- £1 million for Cardiff University to fund a range of energy efficiency projects across the University’s estate, resulting in a reduction in carbon emissions of 1,100 tonnes per annum;
- £219,000 for Anglesey County Council to implement two LED street lighting projects and the conversion of leisure centre facilities to LED lighting.
As well as announcing these important new schemes I am also today inviting the whole of the Welsh public service to make proposals for the next Invest to Save round. Approximately £20 million is available in 2016-17, with additional funding available in future years as existing projects repay to the fund. I am particularly interested in attracting bids which demonstrate collaboration at not only a local level but which take forward improvements at a national and/or regional level. Such a joined up approach means that we spread good practice and ensure that all areas of Wales benefit from the innovation which we see being delivered every year.
The Fund has benefited from a number of evaluations over the past 2 years and I would like to thank members of the Finance Committee for their continued support of the Fund in line with their recommendations to guide the way in which the fund can improve in its operation.