Following engagement with a number of experts, stakeholders and care leavers, the Welsh Government has outlined plans to extend support for care leavers through a Basic Income pilot in Cymru.
The pilot will enhance the support available to young people as they leave care and assess the impact that has on them. It will provide a test for the stated benefits of basic income, such as addressing poverty and unemployment and improving health and financial wellbeing.
All young people leaving care who turn 18 during a 12 month period, across all local authority areas, will be offered the opportunity to take part in this pilot. The pilot will begin during the next financial year and we anticipate over 500 young people will be eligible to join the scheme.
The pilot will run for a minimum of three years with each member of the cohort receiving a basic income payment of £1600 per month for a duration of 24 months from the month after their 18th birthday.
The Welsh Government involved care leavers directly in the development of the pilot as well as working with professionals in Local Authorities and have also established a Technical Advisory Group, chaired by Professor Sir Michael Marmot, bringing together experts in basic income and support for care leavers to inform the development and evaluation of the pilot.
Outlining the reasoning behind the pilot, Minister for Social Justice Jane Hutt said: “Our Basic Income announcement today complements the Welsh Government’s ambition to ensure the most vulnerable in our society are supported. We know we’re in the midst of a cost of living crisis and we’re determined to continually look at how best to support individuals in Wales who live in poverty.
"Care leavers have a right to be properly supported as they develop into independent young adults. It’s also important to note that this policy is underpinned by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), emphasising our commitment to strengthening the rights of children and young people in Wales.
"Yet, too many young people leaving care continue to face significant barriers to achieving a successful transition into adulthood. Our Basic Income pilot is an exciting project to deliver financial stability for a generation of young people that need it most.
"The pilot will build on the existing support offered to looked after children in Wales and ensure young people who take part in this pilot get all the support they need to give them the best possible chance to make their way in life and the transition out of care better, easier and more positive.
"We are fully committed to supporting those living in poverty, ensuring they receive adequate financial support so that everyone in Wales can live happy and healthy lives.”
Emphasising the importance of the pilot to care leavers, Catriona Williams OBE, Chair of Voices from Care Cymru said "We are grateful to the Minister for the time she spent with young people from across Wales on Saturday to listen to their views about the Pilot. It is critical for it to succeed that the voices of care experienced children and young people are heard on decisions like this that directly affect their lives. We look forward to working with the Welsh Government to help ensure that the Pilot is successful and delivers the best possible outcomes for care experienced young people in Wales so they can thrive."
The Welsh Government’s Technical Advisory Group on Basic Income, chaired by Professor Sir Michael Marmot said: “The Technical Advisory Group for the Welsh Basic Income Pilot want to put on record our support for this policy. Whilst we may have differing opinions on how a basic income can work on a wider scale, we can all agree that any scheme aimed at helping a particularly vulnerable group should be welcomed and intend to provide Welsh Government with the support it needs in making this a success.”
Finally, outlining the importance of measuring the results and ensuring the continued support for care leavers in Cymru, the Minister stated: “The pilot is specifically being designed to enable participants to receive more than just a basic transfer of cash; support will also be offered that is designed to build up their confidence to negotiate the world outside of care.
"This extra support will include, for instance, financial well-being training and signposting to all available support provided by Welsh Government and other partner organisations.
"I want to thank all the stakeholders, experts and partner organisations that have made this a reality. We’re committed to delivering for the people of Wales and ensuring we support the most vulnerable in our society.
"Our basic income pilot delivers for young people leaving care in Wales and emphasises our commitment to tackling the scourge of poverty.”