The Welsh Government’s Foundational Economy Challenge Fund has been doubled to £3 million and is now open for applications, First Minister Mark Drakeford has today announced.
The fund is aimed at developing Wales’ regional economy, to make sure prosperity is shared more evenly across Wales.
It will offer support of up to £100,000 for experimental projects to test how Welsh Government can best help to nurture and grow the foundations of our local economies, and it will test what approach works best, with lessons learnt then being shared across Wales.
The foundational economy provides those basic goods and services we all use every day. Care and health services, food, housing, energy, construction, tourism and retailers on the high street are all examples of the foundational economy.
The First Minister said:
“Many of our regional communities are telling us the way the economy has developed feels uneven to them and they feel left behind.
“When I became First Minister, I made a commitment to address this – it’s important in all the debate about the impact of Brexit that we don’t lose sight of what led many people in Wales to vote to leave the EU and what action needs to be taken to address their concerns.
“The foundational economy is made up of those goods and service in our communities that we use every day – by focusing our efforts on supporting these parts of the economy we can help keep money in communities, create better employment conditions and increase prosperity across Wales. By doubling the fund available we expect to see these benefits felt more quickly and more widely.”
These foundational industries and organisations aren’t small parts of the economy. Estimates suggest they account for 4 in 10 jobs and £1 in every 3 that we spend. In some parts of Wales this basic ‘foundational economy’ is the economy.
The Deputy Minister for Economy and Transport, Lee Waters, said:
“This fund is about empowering business and public services to try out new ways to address challenges faced by employers and employees in the foundational economy or people who rely on its services.
“I want to raise the profile of the foundational economy and to stimulate debate and learning on what works so we can scale up and spread good practice to benefit all communities in Wales. Ultimately this about building wealth and well-being, particularly in some of our less advantaged communities.”
These challenges include:
- the recruitment, retention and skills of the workforce
- the delivery structures and design of services
- ways of boosting the impact of local purchasing
- and ways of involving citizens in the design of services.
Applications for the Fund are open for 8 weeks from 14 May to 12 July 2019.
Anyone interested in applying should register their interest by calling 0300 060 3000
By registering, people will be able to attend a surgery with the fund administrators to discuss their project idea in June.