Basic Income pilot scheme ‘already impacted the young lives of those taking part’ – Social Justice Minister
The controversial Basic Income pilot scheme is “investing in the lives of young people who need a helping hand to achieve their potential,” Social Justice Minister Jane Hutt said, after meeting today with some of those taking part.
Launched in July, the scheme will see more than 500 people turning 18 and leaving care in Wales being offered £1,600 each month (before tax) for two years to support them as they make the transition to adult life.
The £20 million pilot, which will run for three years, will be evaluated to carefully examine its effect on the lives of those involved.
After launching the scheme with the First Minister and Deputy Minister for Social Services Julie Morgan, Social Justice Minister Jane Hutt and the Deputy Minister met with a number of young people benefitting from the pilot at Conwy Business Centre.
“It has been fantastic to hear about how the pilot scheme has already impacted the young lives of those taking part in it,” she said.
“Our ambition for the scheme is that it will allow the young people who are benefitting to make their own choices, whether that means they are able to choose where they live, what jobs they can apply for, whether to continue studying or deciding to go and travel the world.
“The life choices of looked after children should not be determined by the circumstances of their childhood.
“It is heartening to hear how many have already received support to take the first steps to achieve this and it puts them in good stead for the future.”
The pilot scheme has been criticised by the Welsh Conservatives, who have said it was “free money” offering no long-term solutions.
Joel James, shadow minister for social partnership, has previously said: “It’s been proven time and again that so-called Universal Basic Income doesn’t work.
“Look at Finland, who ditched their scheme after two years in favour of a new scheme that encouraged people to actually take up employment or training.
“We recognise that this is a vulnerable group and they need extra support, but this is completely the wrong way to go about it and could well create more problems than it solves.
“It’s typical Labour, but it’s obvious that giving out free money won’t be a quick fix.”
Deputy Minister for Social Services Julie Morgan said: “We are committed to providing support to the most vulnerable in our society, many of whom have grown up without a support network through their formative years.
“We hope this scheme, as well as the advice and information available to them through it, will give them the confidence and strong foundations to achieve their dreams.”
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.
Emma Phipps-Magill, of Voices from Care Cymru, also attended the meeting and said: “We have already seen the pilot have a positive impact on young care leavers as they adapt to having financial independence.
“We are still at a very early stage of the pilot, but they have grasped the opportunity with both hands and have already made progress with many of their goals.”
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