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Communities First – what the future holds

Published: 13/10/2017

The Community and Enterprise Overview and Scrutiny Committee will be asked to discuss a report on the future of Flintshire Communities First when it meets next Tuesday. The Communities First programme, which tackles poverty in the most deprived areas of Wales, started in Flintshire in 2002. The programme is due to end on 31 March 2018. Funding for the LIFT programme, helping the long term unemployed back into work, is also ending on 31 March 2018. The Communities 4 Work employment programme will continue to operate in the former Communities First areas until March 2020. Welsh Government will be introducing two new programmes from 1 April 2018. The first, the Legacy Fund, will offer small scale funding to enable Flintshire County Council to continue to deliver some particularly effective Communities First activities for a further two years. The second programme, the Employability Programme, will provide the management infrastructure for the Communities 4 Work programme and will fund additional support for unemployed people in deprived areas until March 2020. Flintshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Economic Development, Councillor Derek Butler, said: “Communities First has been a hugely successful programme in Flintshire, with almost 4,000 people supported and 382 people finding work, along with the Business Enterprise Network supporting 120 people and helping to form 25 new businesses – just a few of the great achievements. Many of these programmes have been working with the most disadvantaged and least engaged members of our communities. “In Flintshire this year, we have focussed on employment support, skills development, work experience and social enterprise development and the proposals by Welsh Government fit well with what we are doing in Flintshire.” Funding for Communities 4 Work and the Legacy Fund have been announced, but funding for the Employability Programme have not yet been released. These new programmes will need a similar staff ratio to what is currently in place. The roles in the new programmes may differ, though, from those within the current structure and a further restructure of the team will need to be undertaken.