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New plan to support people with complex barriers to find work in Wales

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A KEY Welsh Government-funded programme to help people most disadvantaged in the labour market into work will be expanded in 2023, following the winding-up of two existing EU-funded programmes, Economy Minister, Vaughan Gething, has announced today.

The Welsh Government is stepping in to fund the expansion of the Communities for Work Plus (CfW+) employability programme following the UK Government’s failure to honour repeated promises Wales would not be a penny worse off following the UK departure from the EU.

Under the EU Structural and Investment Funds, the Welsh Government invested funds in a range of schemes led by the public, HE/FE, third and private sectors, including those to help people into work.

Two of those schemes are Communities for Work (CfW) and Parents, Childcare and Employment (PaCE). Since 2015, £135m has been invested in the schemes which have, to date, provided intensive community-based employment support and training to 41,000 individuals with complex barriers. Over 17,500 of these individuals have been helped into employment.

The UK Government had pledged to replace and “at a minimum match the size” of former EU funding in each nation of the UK. However, the UK Government’s actions for replacement EU funding means the Welsh budget is more than £1 billion worse off.

At the same time, the UK Government is deliberately overriding Welsh devolution by directly allocating replacement EU funding, at a dramatically diminished level, through the UK-wide Shared Prosperity Fund – which means the Welsh Government now has less say over less money.

This means the Welsh Government and other institutions across business, higher and further education and the third sector who have used EU funding to support vital investments in Wales’ economy and labour market, including support for vulnerable people, will need to make difficult decisions about how budgets are spent.

In response, the Minister has today confirmed the Welsh Government is stepping in to fund the expansion of the Wales-wide CfW+ programme from April 2023. The expansion will see a doubling of its original £12m annual budget.

The CfW+ programme has been hugely successful, having already provided intensive employment support and training to over 30,000 individuals with complex barriers to employment, with over 13,000 being helped into employment.

The Minister also announced the Welsh Government has secured an extension of the delivery of the EU-funded CfW and PaCE to 31 March 2023 to ensure a smooth transition to the enhanced CfW+ programme.

Economy Minister, Vaughan 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.

“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.”

The Welsh Government’s new Employability and Skills Plan, launched in March 2022, confirmed employability support will focus on those most disadvantaged in the labour market, and on improving labour market outcomes for disabled people, Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic people, women, young people, older workers over 50, carers and those with low skills.

The expanded CfW+ programme will align with ReAct + and Jobs Growth Wales +, to meet the Plan’s commitment of delivering a single operating model of Welsh Government employability support from 2023.

Further details on the programme will be announced in due course.

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New recycling facility opens for Carmarthenshire businesses

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A new commercial waste recycling centre located in Nantycaws has been launched today (Monday October 31) by Carmarthenshire County Council in partnership with CWM Environmental Ltd.

Located next to Nantycaws Household Waste Recycling Centre, the new facility will focus on providing an outlet for businesses in Carmarthenshire to recycle their waste responsibly, with the waste collected at the site recycled or re-used to create sustainable products whenever possible.

The paid for service accepts a range of materials including metal, cardboard, plastic, plasterboard, soil, hardcore, paint, glass, asbestos (double bagged), large white goods including fridges and mixed general waste.

Costs will be competitive to encourage as many businesses as possible to use the facility and will vary depending on the type and amount of waste presented.

A valid waste carrier’s certificate and waste transfer note will be required to use the site.

Cllr Edward Thomas, Cabinet Member for Transport, Waste and Infrastructure Services said: “We hope to significantly increase the amount of waste being recycled from businesses in Carmarthenshire thanks to the introduction of this new recycling centre in Nantycaws”.

“Our long-term ambition is to change the perception of recycling for businesses by supporting them to recycle as much as possible. We want to promote responsible waste practices in the county and minimise the levels of business waste being presented at our household waste recycling centres, which has risen in recent months.

The new commercial recycling centre will help to achieve Carmarthenshire’s ambition of delivering a circular economy throughout the county as well as becoming a leader in recycling and re-use within Wales.

For more information visit the recycling section of the Council’s website – Carmarthenshire.gov.wales/recycling

A circular economy focuses on eliminating waste by cutting down on throw away consumption and turning materials that would have previously been sent to landfill into a valuable resource.

This project has been funded through Welsh Government’s Circular Economy fund.

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National Botanic Garden of Wales welcomes new director

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Dr Lucy Sutherland is the new Director of the National Botanic Garden of Wales.

She has joined the Welsh institution from her role as a strategic consultant to the Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust which manages the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney, Blue Mountains Botanic Garden and the Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan.

She started in her new job on Monday October 24.

Dr Sutherland said: “It is an exciting and rare chance to lead a relatively young botanic garden through its next phase of maturity.

“It is also a unique opportunity at a time when the global population is facing multiple crises and there is growing ambition and support for addressing climate change and continuing efforts towards biodiversity conservation and a sustainable future.”

Dr Sutherland sees the National Botanic Garden of Wales as “continuing to have a critical role in this agenda.”

She is an Honorary Professor at the University of Adelaide and was previously the Director of the Botanic Gardens and State Herbarium in South Australia, Acting Director of the Australian National Botanic Gardens and the National Co-ordinator of the Australian Seed Bank Partnership.

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Community groups receive a share of cash from Ogi’s community fund ‘Cefnogi’

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COMMUNITY groups across Pembrokeshire, Monmouthshire and the Vale of Glamorgan have each received a cash injection, thanks to Ogi’s new ‘Cefnogi’ local support fund.

Wales’s homegrown internet company, Ogi has given over £4,000 so far to community groups in Pembrokeshire, Monmouthshire and the Vale of Glamorgan, to date, with everything from community gardens to coffee mornings being supported by the broadband provider’s micro-fund.

Building on the company’s sponsorship of local grassroots activities at Haverfordwest AFC, Llantwit Major RFC and Portskewett and Sudbrook FC, the ‘Cefnogi’ micro-fund offers small, local groups a cash injection to support activities that directly benefit their communities.

Speaking about the fund, Head of Brand and Engagement, Sarah Vining, said: “Investing in our communities is an important part of our plan to bring full fibre connectivity to towns and villages across south Wales.

“This initiative, bringing small, but no less vital, cash injections to thriving local community groups is our way of giving back to those that are providing much needed support locally.”

The fund, set up by the regional Community Liaison team, offers grants of around £250 to local grassroots groups in the broadband providers roll our areas.

Community Liaison Officer, Martin Jones, one of the team who originally came up with the idea for the fund, said: “I’m thrilled to see so many groups being supported by the ‘Cefnogi’ fund.

“Community really is at the heart of all we do here at Ogi, and giving back through our micro-fund is making a real difference to the local groups we support.”

Ogi’s support extends to volunteering opportunities too, with teams across the businesses having supported the clearing of residents gardens, hosting coffee mornings and redeveloping community spaces.

For more information on the ‘Cefnogi’ micro-fund visit www.ogi.wales/support

The latest round of the fund is accepting applications until the end of October 2022.

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