Reducing poverty, tackling substance and alcohol misuse, as well as promoting the safety and regeneration of communities are at the centre of the programme announced following the draft budget earlier this week. The three year funding round focuses on delivering key One Wales commitments.
Reducing child poverty is key to creating a fairer and more just Wales, where everyone’s potential is valued and nurtured. This is key to improving the quality of life, promoting social inclusion and equality of opportunity in every community in Wales. One Wales commits the Welsh Assembly Government, working with the UK Government, to halving child poverty in Wales by 2010 and eradicating it by 2020.
The budget outlines significant extra investment from across Assembly Government departments in tackling child poverty and increasing the life chances of young people across Wales. This builds on existing successful initiatives like Communities First and the RAISE programme which specifically targets disadvantaged pupils in order to raise their levels of performance.
Children will benefit directly from £5 million across the second and third year of the spending programme through the delivery of a Welsh premium to the Children’s Trust fund. This will pay for a proposed additional £50 for all children entering full time education and an additional £50 for those children from low income households.
Investment in education, health and childcare will also contribute significantly. For example the Flying Start programme is about giving children from birth to 2 years, the best possible start in life. It will provide health visiting, high quality free childcare for two year olds, parenting programmes and basic skills initiatives for children living in disadvantaged areas. The Flying Start budget includes additional revenue and capital funding increasing the total available to £32m in 2008 – 09, £33m in 2009 – 10 and £36m in 2010 – 11.
Encouraging children to save and teaching them about money will help them develop essential life skills. Therefore, every secondary school in Wales will have access to a credit union by 2011. This will be delivered through funding worth £1.25 million over the next three years. Coupled with teaching finance skills as part of the school curriculum, this will help young people throughout their lives.
Older people will also benefit from an extra £4 million per annum for help with council tax in the second and third year of the programme. In line with One Wales, there is an extra £1 million a year to promote the take-up of council tax and similar benefits across all ages. £1.25 million will also be made available to implement a new strategy on advice services across Wales.
Tacking drug and alcohol misuse continues to be a priority with the delivery of a new Welsh Strategy being backed by an extra £9.6 million over the next 3 years. This funding will be used to deliver the new strategy, including extra treatment places and other support for substance misusers. It will also fund measures to tackle binge drinking and actions to reduce harm to the wider community as a result of substance Misuse such as alcohol related anti-social behaviour.
Regenerating communities is key to the future prosperity of Wales. An enhanced business rate relief scheme, worth £7 million a year will be introduced. A consultation will be held on how to extend the existing scheme to further encourage businesses that contribute socially and economically to their local communities.
Additional investments include a further £1.59 million to enhance the work of the Third Sector as part of the delivery of a new Action Plan.
Minister for Social Justice and Local Government, Brian Gibbons, said:
Our vision is for a fair and just society where people can improve their own lives and the communities they live in.
The three year budget settlement allows us to set out a programme of practical measures aimed at helping the least well off in our society, regenerating our communities and helping people with drug and alcohol misuse problems.
Only by creating a just and fair society can we achieve our ambition of a country where everyone achieves their full human potential and everyone can live free from poverty, discrimination, fear or abuse.
November 9, 2007