It was announced last week that 92% of eligible young people leaving care have signed up to the Welsh Government’s Basic Income pilot scheme, which aims to set care leavers on a path to live healthy, happy and fulfilling lives by providing a £1,600 (before tax) payment per month for a period of two years when they turn 18. Early feedback from this vulnerable group suggests the income is being used to enhance their lives, including learning how to manage their money and saving, as well as giving them opportunities such as better housing, education and training.
Although the pilot scheme is still in its infancy, one person working with care leavers said it had ‘empowered them to be able to make decisions they weren’t able to before’ – and I think this is the most important part of the scheme. For so long, young people leaving care have been left behind by a system that is difficult to navigate and this scheme will make a real difference to the lives of hundreds of vulnerable young people as they make the transition into adulthood. Since the scheme was launched in July and the first payment was issued in August last year, more than 400 care leavers have enrolled in the pilot. The programme, which costs £20m, will be rigorously assessed by an independently-appointed evaluation team and we’ll see its full impact then.
Also last week, the Welsh Government’s Final Budget 2023-2024 was approved in the Senedd and, as explained by Minister for Finance and Local Government Rebecca Evans, it has been one of the hardest since the start of devolution – it’s been designed to maximise support for public services and for people and businesses most affected by the cost-of-living crisis and the recession.
The budget includes an extra £165m for NHS Wales to help protect frontline services as well as an additional £227m for local government to help safeguard the services delivered by councils – including schools, which receive an extra £28m. In Flintshire, the settlement from Welsh Government will increase by 8.3% as part of a drive to keep Council Tax rises down.
Welsh Government is also committed to social care and the people who work in the sector, which is why we will be delivering the Real Living Wage for workers in social care. The Budget also provides an additional £18.8m for the Discretionary Assistance Fund, which provides lifeline emergency cash payments to people facing financial hardship, as well as an additional £40m to support public transport, helping to create a sustainable and greener transport system, which helps Wales on its journey towards Net Zero by 2050.
As part of the ongoing battle against Covid, Flintshire residents who are aged 75 or over, care home residents or those who are immune-suppressed are being urged to contact their GPs to make an appointment for this year’s spring booster jab. Even though in many ways things are back to normal in Wales, Covid is still circulating in our communities and, for those who are vulnerable, the booster jabs are the best way to protect themselves from the disease. And if you’ve not had the primary course of vaccines, you can still book your place for that until June.
Do you need help or advice with an issue? I’m running an advice surgery in Flint on Friday 24th March, 10am to 11.30am to assist residents with anything they may need help with. It’s appointment only, so please book your place on 01352 753464 or email me at email@example.com.
As always, if you would like advice and/or support at any other time, please don’t hesitate to get in touch on any of the following contact details – 52 High Street, Mold, Flintshire, on 01352 753464 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org You can also keep up to date via my Facebook page – www.facebook.com/hannahblythynMS Constituents are, of course, welcome to contact my office to arrange an appointment to see me, you don’t need to wait until an advice surgery.