Aberavon AM highlights need for continued support for resilient communities

David Rees AM for Aberavon has today welcomed a new approach to combating poverty announced by the Welsh Government but warns that we must not take away vital services from communities whose needs are greatest.

A cross government approach to boosting prosperity across Wales is key to ensuring the long term future of our communities, the Communities and Children Secretary Carl Sargeant said today.

Delivering an Oral Statement to the Assembly, the Cabinet Secretary made it clear that creating a more prosperous nation of resilient communities is the responsibility of every part of the Welsh Government, which is:

• creating 100,000 all-age apprenticeships;
• piloting a Better Jobs Closer to Home project, designed to create employment and training hubs in areas of high economic deprivation;
• delivering the most generous childcare offer for working parents anywhere in the UK;
• establishing a ministerial taskforce to develop a fresh approach to improving prosperity in the South Wales Valleys;
• creating the Metros in North and South Wales
• ensuring every child gets the best start in life through an extended Pupil Deprivation Grant; and
• carrying forward work on financial inclusion, including support for advice services credit unions and promotion of financial literacy.

While Mr Rees welcomes the focus on creating jobs and Apprenticeships, which will of course benefit employment opportunities in Aberavon, and the continued efforts to ensure that children in deprived areas get the best possible start in life through target education funding such as flying start and families first, he believes that it is of great importance that vital services are protected in our most deprived areas such as the Afan Valley, ensuring families do not face greater burdens in these uncertain economic times.

The Cabinet Secretary said: “Within my portfolio, my priorities are wellbeing and economic prosperity. I am absolutely determined to meet them. To do that, I firmly believe it is time for a new approach to building resilient communities. While Communities First has supported people in some of our most deprived areas over the last fifteen years, I am not convinced that continuing to focus on 52 small areas is the most effective way to deliver for Wales.

“Over the coming months, we will look afresh at how the Welsh Government can support resilient communities. This means communities are empowered and engaged; communities that are ready and able to work; communities that can offer children the best start in life.”

“On Employment, I want to see communities that have access to jobs and people with the right skills and support to fill them. We have made a major commitment to Lift and Communities for Work, and I can confirm these important employment programmes will continue as planned.”

“For Early Years, we can do more to protect children from the impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences which are a major threat to well-being and economic prosperity. I am inviting organisations to join with us to develop Children’s Zones for Wales which will see organisations collaborating seamlessly to improve the lives of children and young people and, along with Flying Start and Families First, will support them to get the best possible start in life.

“We cannot duck the new and serious challenges we face. Rather, we must find fresh ways to respond.”

David Rees AM added; “Whilst I welcome the government’s new and innovative approach to tackling poverty and extending this outside of the current areas, we must not let the most vulnerable in our communities be forgotten. We must ensure that public bodies and local authorities ensure that provision to tackling poverty is given to those communities most in need and that children are given the best possible start in life. We cannot take away services from our disadvantaged communities without identifying strong strategies to combat the challenges they face daily.”