Minister says Welsh Government faces ‘tough decisions’ after Westminster fails to meet EU funding pledge
Wales’ Economy Minister Vaughan Gething says the Welsh Government faces tough decisions on future spending due to Westminster failure to fully replace support received by the EU.
His comments were made as he confirmed that a key Welsh Government-funded programme to help some of those most disadvantaged in the labour market into work will be expanded in 2023, following the winding-up of two existing EU-funded programmes, Communities for Work (CfW) and Parents, Childcare and Employment (PaCE).
The government is stepping in to fund the expansion of the Communities for Work Plus (CfW+) programme following what it describes as “the UK Government’s failure to honour repeated promises Wales would not be a penny worse off following the UK departure from the EU”.
Since 2015, £135m has been invested in the schemes which provided intensive community-based employment support and training to 41,000 individuals with complex barriers to work.
Over 17,500 of these individuals have been helped into employment.
Mr Gething said: “Despite the promise made by the UK Government that Wales would not be worse off from the UK leaving the EU, the reality is we are facing a loss of more than £1 billion in un-replaced funding.
“The Welsh Government cannot fill the massive hole the UK Government has created in the Welsh budget, which means we and our Welsh partners – who have previously benefited from EU funding – will need to take tough decisions on what to fund in future.”
Last month the UK Government announced conditional allocations for the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, saying it has matched previous EU funding but with less bureaucracy and more local control.
However, analysis of the UK Government’s replacement for EU funding means the Welsh budget will be more than £1 billion worse off by 2024-25.
Under the EU aid system, the Welsh government administered the cash in agreement with the European Commission.
Under the new scheme, local authorities will be encouraged to work together on regional committees to decide how the money will be used – with the Welsh Government effectively bypassed on spending decisions.
The Minister added: “This Welsh Government is determined to help people into and remain in good quality jobs. That’s why we’re taking action to fund a new Wales-wide programme to support people to do just that.
“By funding this expansion of Communities for Work + and focussing on people who are under-represented in the labour market and those who face disadvantage and inequity in accessing work, we will create a more equal Wales – a society that enables people to fulfil their potential no matter what their background or circumstances.
“While UK Ministers talk about “levelling up” the UK, it’s this Welsh Government that’s delivering for people across Wales by funding transformative programmes that help to change their lives for the better.”
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