New Communities First schemes, aimed at tacking poverty in the worst-off parts of Wales, are announced this morning by the Welsh Government. It's a relaunch for the scheme first set up in 2001, after criticism that the money was not always aiding the people who needed the most help and in one case the jailing of a project co-ordinator who admitted fraud.
The different projects will now be grouped into 'clusters', with the aim of reducing administrative overheads and making supervision easier. The first 12, announced this morning, will share just over £19 million between now and March 2015. They represent less than a quarter of the schemes that will eventually operate across Wales.
There are four clusters in Caerphilly, four in Cardiff, two in Flintshire, one in Gwynedd and one in the Vale of Glamorgan. The Welsh Government says they be 'community focussed' and support the most vulnerable people in our most deprived areas. The minister in charge, Carl Sargeant, promises 'a robust new monitoring framework for the programme'.
– Communities Minister Carl Sargeant AM
Each of the new clusters has a delivery plan that shows how the programme in that area will contribute to improved outcomes in relation to health, education and the economy. Overall, the programme will make a key contribution to the Welsh Government's Tackling Poverty Action Plan. Every application has been carefully assessed to ensure that the highest possible proportion of the budget can be used to deliver projects in local communities rather than being spent on administrative costs.
The Welsh Government says changes have been made following critical reports from the Wales Audit Office and National Assembly's Public Accounts Committee. There was also a major consultation in 2011 after fraud was uncovered in the Plas Madoc Communities First scheme in Wrexham. The project's co-ordinator, Miriam Beard, admitted nine offences and was jailed for 32 months.