The Welsh Government’s Foundational Economy Challenge Fund which aims to drive prosperity throughout Wales is being almost trebled to more than £4 million.
Economy Minister, Ken Skates made the announcement as part of a major speech to the business community about Brexit and the choice it represented for Wales’ economic future.
The Welsh Government initially announced its Foundational Economy Challenge Fund in February as part of its response to Brexit.
The fund aims to test new ways of nurturing and growing the everyday parts of Wales’ economy, and is part of the Welsh Government’s work to reach out to those communities across Wales who are feeling disengaged and left behind.
The Foundational Economy is made up of the everyday goods and services we all use and need.
Care and health services, food, housing, tourism and retailers on the high street are just some of the examples of the foundational economy which improve people’s experiences of everyday life.
In May, it was revealed the Foundational Economy Challenge Fund was being doubled to £3 million.
Today’s news means an additional £1.077 million to support innovative and experimental projects that explore ways of nurturing and growing the Foundational Economy and help develop regional economies so that prosperity can be shared more evenly across Wales.
The fund offers applicants up to £100,000 to reverse the deterioration of employment conditions, stop the leakage of money from Wales’ communities and reduce the environmental cost of extended supply chains. It will also work to ensure that lessons learnt are shared across Wales.
The fund was announced by Deputy Economy Minister, Lee Waters in February. Today he has revealed details of the first three successful projects to be allocated funding with more than 40 projects still to be announced.
- Swansea County Council is being awarded £27,000 for a project to help small construction firms bid for local authority contracts – a first step towards supporting other public bodies to give more of their work to SMEs.
- Circular Economy Wales is being awarded £100,000 to create a ‘Mutual Credit System’ based on the model in Sardinia that allows companies to trade with one another with credits instead of cash that must be re-used within the regional economy.
- The Gower Gas and Oil project is being awarded £81,478 for a scheme that will provide work placement experience for young people, targeting individuals at risk of falling out of the education system into unemployment.
Deputy Minister for Economy and Transport, Lee Waters said:
“The Foundational Economy is absolutely vital both as a source of employment as well as its role in supplying the essential goods and services we all need and enjoy.
“Our Economic Action Plan sets out the direction for a broader and more balanced approach to economic development focused on making communities stronger and more resilient. The Foundational Economy Challenge Fund is fundamental to this and I’m pleased to announce we are almost trebling the amount available to projects which can make a real difference to people throughout Wales.
“This boost in financial support is in response to the high level of interest and quality of the applications which were submitted and we will be making further announcements shortly on all of the successful bids.
“There is little doubt that these are challenging and uncertain economic times, which are in the main due to the UK Government’s shambolic handling of Brexit, but as a Welsh Government our determination and commitment to support our communities, be they big or small, in all parts of Wales is unquestionable.
“I want our Foundational Economy to continue growing and provide more opportunities so all communities can benefit particularly those in less advantaged areas. Increasing the amount available through the Fund is a clear demonstration of that.
The original £1.5 million for the Foundational Challenge Fund was secured as part of a 2 year budget agreement with Plaid Cymru.