Yesterday, I had the chance to talk to officials at the Welsh Assembly about the potential to run Community Allowance in Wales. It was really great to talk to a knowledgably official who was looking for opportunities to make a difference now for people currently out of work and the communities they live in.
Devolution enables Wales some flexibility in tackling some really difficult problems with the Welsh economy and finding creative, sustainable ways to develop new jobs. It was really interesting to hear how the voluntary sector and the Welsh Assembly are working together and their plans for the future. WCVA and DTA Wales have long been strong advocates for Community Allowance and their support has been key to securing a meeting with Leighton Andrews MP (Welsh Minister for Education and Skills) in December and my meeting yesterday.
Unfortunately welfare reform itself and the ability to tackle the benefit trap is not devolved and is a common problem across the UK. Sadly this means attempts to develop new jobs that benefit communities and people who are unemployed are blocked by a benefit system that penalize people who work for under 16 hours. While we wait for Universal Credit ( and the debates continue on how much people will or won’t be better off) – we continue to follow up opportunities, like this one in Wales, where so many of the pieces are in place – a government determined to develop the jobs and opportunities for unemployed people and the communities they live in, communities who need a whole range of jobs doing now and the community organizations that could create the jobs that meet the need. So watch this space – I left the meeting with a page of actions, fortunately shared with colleagues at WCVA and the Welsh Assembly and a really good feeling that the Welsh might just have the answer.
Join the campaign to grow community jobs and lets stop trapping people and communities http://locality.org.uk/projects/community-allowance/