Posts Tagged ‘Wales’
The Welsh Government has announced that it is inviting applications for funding from the £1.5 million SME Small Capital Investment Grant fund – but you will have to be quick to be in with a chance to apply.
The funding is designed for capital projects that aim to encourage investment to support the creation and safeguarding of jobs but is only available until January next year.
The SME Small Capital Investment Grant is open to eligible small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in Wales. Businesses have until 20th January 2014 to bid for grants of between £5,000 and £25,000 towards the cost of their project at an intervention rate of up to 50%. Match funding is available for projects costing between £5,000 and £25,000.
The fund is managed by the Business Wales one stop shop service. In order to access the grant, you will need to contact a Business Wales Business Advisor as soon as possible. Further information can be found on the Business Wales website or by contacting the Business Wales Helpline on 03000 6 03000.
Guest blogger Michael Trickey, Wales Advisor for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, looks at the complex patterns of poverty in Wales
Amid the swirl of data the picture is complex but the patterns of poverty in Wales appear to be changing. While the overall number living in poverty has not changed significantly in recent years, the number who is in poverty and in work has shot up. For the first time in Wales, as reported by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation report Monitoring Poverty & Social Exclusion in Wales2013, there are more people in working families in poverty than people in non-working families.
At the same time, levels of economic inactivity in Wales remain stubbornly high, food banks report rising demand, there are worries about pockets of deepening poverty. Along with uncertainties about the impact of welfare reform, from sanctions to questions of administrative competence, there are serious concerns about ‘a decade of destitution’.
Poverty as a term seems to cover a growing myriad of different circumstances and plights. The complexity is illustrated by two other elements in the JRF report. It highlights a regional dimension in Wales: in-work poverty features strongly in parts of rural Wales whereas out-of-work poverty is highest in the South Wales Valleys. Another stand-out finding is the reminder that disability is a big factor in poverty. JRF reports that 235,000 working-age adults in Wales were disabled and not in work, although a third wanted work.
There are many for whom work can never be the answer. But even for those for whom it is a possibility, the tabloid stereotyping into ‘strivers’ and ‘shirkers’, though more muted in Wales, masks uncomfortable truths.
The numbers in work and for whom work is not proving to be the route out of poverty should be of concern to everybody. Whether this is about part-time working, poor pay rates, or insecure jobs, the drive to make work pay needs to take account of a fragmented and difficult labour market and the challenges around affordable childcare, transport and other enablers.
And for those not in the labour market, the Welsh Affairs Committee report on the Work Programme confirms the challenge of supporting long-term jobseekers .
A recovering economy is an essential part of the mix. The rise in employment is encouraging but alone is not enough. The debate on the kind of recovery, including the Living Wage, is timely but we have to continue to look more widely than economic levers. This will continue to as much a social issue as an economic one. And here, the dissonance between economic recovery and continuing public austerity is unlikely to make the widely shared commitment to tackling poverty any easier.
Research shows that 1 in 5 tenants have turned to doorstep lenders in the last year – #povertyinwales
As universal welfare reforms roll out across Britain, Wales Co-operative Centre Financial Inclusion Project Manager Jocelle Lovell discusses the changes.
A recent survey has highlighted that in Wales nearly two fifths of private and portfolio landlords were not prepared for upcoming changes in Welfare benefits and the subsequent effect it may have on their rental income.
Startlingly, a separate pilot conducted by the Wales Co-operative Centre and Caerphilly County Borough Council suggests that private sector tenants are just as poorly informed and prepared as their landlords.
Welfare reform will affect the way that all claimants, including those currently receiving housing benefits, receive their payments. Each household will receive the benefits they are entitled to in one single payment that will be monthly in arrears
Many tenants of both private and social landlords will still say that they don’t pay rent as they have never been in receipt of the money and have never had to make a physical payment. There are also many tenants who are digitally excluded, and have no means of accessing the online services that will help them manage better or do not have the skills to do so.
Budgeting is an issue for tenants who are currently used to receiving payments on a weekly or fortnightly basis. Many tenants existing within a cash economy may soon find themselves in difficulty.
People who are already in or living close to the poverty line often don’t want the temptation of having the rent money in their pocket. Most people faced with the choice of paying rent or feeding or clothing their children will ensure their children’s immediate needs are met first.
The Welfare Reform and Universal Credit changes will be rolled out over the next few years. It is our belief that if more resources are put into pro active methods of engagement with ‘at risk’ tenants now it would be far more effective and offer better value for money to the public purse that dealing with crisis intervention at a later date.
Following a piece of work carried out in partnership with Caerphilly County Borough Council, early findings suggest that four out of five tenants are still unaware of exactly how the reforms will affect them. At least half of the tenants surveyed to date had no access to on-line facilities.
Working in partnership with staff from the local authority we were able to explain the effects of the reforms to each tenant. Wherever possible, tenants were advised on applying for additional funding and referrals were made to other advice and support agencies in the area, including foodbanks. Of the tenants visited over half had struggled to pay bills such as rent and utilities and one in five had turned to door step lenders in the past year. Each of the tenants faced different challenges – paying bills, paying rent, buying food, or buying clothing for their children, but most were already struggling with their finances.
We need a range of solutions to meet the needs of different people. Nobody should be forced into using a product or service that isn’t appropriate for them.
One of these solutions could be a Credit Union Rent Account as it offers peace of mind to the tenant that their rent will be paid and also removes the temptation to use the rent money to make up short falls elsewhere. Of the tenants visited 80% wanted to explore the idea of a Credit Union Rent Account as they felt it was the best way to protect their tenancy.
The Wales Co-operative Centre’s Tackling Homelessness through Financial Inclusion project is working with local authorities and landlords across Wales to promote this simple model.
In light of the changes to Welfare Reform and the cuts to public sector funding, there has never been a more important time for public, private and the third sectors to work more collaboratively in supporting people and tackling poverty.
‘Tackling Poverty’ has moved to the top of the Welsh Government agenda in recent months, precipitated by the flat lining economy, the biggest shake-up to the benefits system in 60 years, public spending cuts and rising living costs. These events have a social impact on families and communities in Wales as people lose their jobs or have their pay frozen while prices continue to rise. Poverty is often the consequence.
The Wales Co-operative Centre manages a number of projects which aim to prevent poverty, help people out of poverty and mitigate the impact of poverty. Our work promoting financial inclusion and supporting social enterprise is highly relevant to this agenda. We are also the lead delivery partner of Communities 2.0, the Welsh Government’s digital inclusion initiative, which helps the poorest people in the most deprived areas become better off through improved skills, improved chances of finding a job and access to all the services they need.
From Monday 28 October – Friday 8 November we will be running a social media campaign, Tackling Poverty Fortnight, to raise awareness of our work. Each day we will publish a blog highlighting a different case study, or providing our perspective on current policy. Our blogs will we published here on the Centre’s blog and on the Communities 2.0 blog. We will also be using the twitter hashtag #povertyinwales.
We very much hope that people will join the campaign by reading and sharing our blog posts. Please get in touch if you want to meet to learn more about the Centre’s remit on tackling poverty.
Social media and marketing expert Natalie Reynolds has won an award for innovation at today’s South Wales Evening Post Women in Business Awards 2013.
Natalie is a founding member of the marketing co-operative consortium That Useful Company which was set up last year with assistance from the Wales Co-operative Centre.
The new company allowed the co-operative’s members to work together on marketing projects and contracts under the umbrella company whilst still remaining specialists in their own fields.
It was Natalie’s idea to find a way of formalising several informal collaboration relationships into a consortium to be able to bid for larger contracts than they could attract as sole traders or as small businesses.
Since its launch in 2012 the co-operative has expanded rapidly, necessitating two office moves and the creation of several jobs.
The co-operative consortium has won a number of marketing contracts where businesses get the benefit of working with specialists across a number of marketing areas including social media, web, design and strategy.
Natalie said, “ I am hoping that even more people will start thinking of working in a similar way as I believe it will help support micro-businesses in the Welsh economy”.
Sarah Owens who helped Natalie and the other members of the co-operative to set up the new business was delighted with the news, “This is such a well deserved award. Natalie and her colleagues have worked so hard to make this co-operative consortium a success and it is great to see them as they reap the benefits. Working together in a formal co-operative consortium is a great way of small enterprises accessing work they couldn’t access by themselves and is an approach that can work across any sector in Wales”.
To find out more about That Useful Company, visit www.thatusefulcompany.co.uk
To find out more about working together in a co-operative consortium, visit http://www.walescooperative.org/working-with-other-businesses