“WE ARE investing in the lives of young people who need a helping hand to achieve their potential,” Social Justice Minister Jane Hutt has vowed after meeting with those taking part in a Basic Income pilot scheme in North Wales.
Launched in July, the scheme will see more than 500 people turning 18 and leaving care in Wales being offered £1600 each month (before tax) for two years to support them as they make the transition to adult life.
It is hoped the pilot will set care leavers on a path to live healthy, happy and fulfilling lives.
The £20 million pilot, which will run for three years, will be evaluated to carefully examine its effect on the lives of those involved.
In the midst of a cost-of-living crisis, it is hoped the lessons learnt from the pilot scheme can benefit future generations to come by helping them overcome barriers they face starting adult life. This could benefit them and wider society.
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 earlier today (Friday, 28 October) as part of National Care Leavers Week.
“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.”
She added: “We want them to have independence as they get older, and by giving them a helping hand as they start their adult life we can improve their chances of doing so.
“By providing financial stability to a generation of young people facing huge barriers to reach their full potential, we are giving them the tools to overcome them and thrive.”
Those taking part in the pilot will also receive individual advice and support to help them manage their finances and develop their financial and budgeting skills.
Deputy Minister for Social Services Julie Morgan said: “It has been heartening to hear from the young people the impact the pilot scheme has had on their lives. We’ve learnt a lot from meeting with them today and we appreciate them sharing their thoughts with us
“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.”