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Written Statement - Communities First Clusters Launch

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Carl Sargeant, Minister for Local Government and Communities

Tomorrow I will be announcing the launch of the first Clusters in the new Communities First Programme.  I have approved funding for 4 Clusters in Caerphilly, 4 in Cardiff, 1 in Gwynedd and 1 in the Vale of Glamorgan.   In addition, the First Minister has approved funding for 2 Communities First Clusters in Flintshire.  The funding approved for these Clusters is just over £19million up to March 2015.

These 12 Clusters represent nearly a quarter of the programme that I expect to take shape over the next few months.   The Welsh Government has received applications from 52 eligible areas.  Taken together these cover all of the communities eligible for inclusion in the new programme.    Further announcements about other Clusters will follow over the coming weeks and I expect the new programme to be substantially in place early in 2013.


The changes being made to the Communities First programme follow a major consultation in 2011 and have received strong support from many stakeholders. The aim is to create a Community Focussed Tackling Poverty Programme that focuses on supporting the most vulnerable people in our most deprived areas. 


Tomorrow’s announcement gives real substance to the new programme.  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.

Projects in Gwynedd include an Employment Service and volunteering programmes to develop skills. These are working to create and promote employment opportunities in different sectors including industry and outdoor activity. Flintshire have identified key work to be undertaken in areas such as Social Inclusion for Older People, Family Learning, work with NEET’s, Financial Literacy and Community Cohesion. 


In Cardiff projects include work on Digital Inclusion, Food Co-ops and improving basic skills. As well as looking at increasing the skills base and employment opportunities of the area, the Vale of Glamorgan has prioritised health projects including community health projects, improving mental health and increasing physical activity. Caerphilly Clusters have identified key work to be undertaken with NEET’s, improving employment and income and work to improve the health of the community.


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 to be used to deliver projects in local communities rather than being spent on administrative costs. 


Community Involvement will remain central to the programme. We want to see more local people becoming actively involved in Communities First and so each Cluster will develop a Community Involvement Plan to ensure that this happens. The Clusters must demonstrate that an increasing number of local people have the opportunity to contribute in a variety of ways. Regional Boards will also be developed to support the Clusters and the Lead Delivery Bodies. It is intended that community representatives will have a strong voice on the Regional Boards ensuring that the community focussed nature of the programme is not lost. It is essential that the community continues to be engaged and empower under the programme.

Many existing CF Partnerships will continue, but each Cluster will now have the flexibility to develop informal structures that best suit the local circumstances. While there will still be strong support for the communities in each , the move to fewer, larger areas will mean that some resources can be shared between communities. 


The changes take into account the recommendations of the Wales Audit Office and Public Accounts Committee reports published in 2009 and 2010. In particular, the new arrangements will provide a much clearer and more consistent picture of how the programme is contributing to the creation of more Prosperous, Healthier and Learning Communities. 


There is a robust new monitoring framework for the programme.   We will be gathering and making public key information about the work and achievements of the Clusters and the programme as a whole.   There is a designated Lead Delivery Body for each Cluster to ensure good governance and strong community involvement.   My officials will work closely with Lead Delivery Bodies and Communities First Regional Programme Boards will also oversee and support their work.


We are also putting in place strong links with other Welsh Government programmes so that CF Clusters are able to benefit from a range of initiatives being developed with other Welsh Government departments and agencies.   In consequence I expect to make further announcements in the future about additional funding which will benefit Communities First areas and support the work of the Cluster teams in the areas launched tomorrow and others.


More information about Communities First is on the Welsh Government website at
www.wales.gov.uk/communitiesfirst