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Flagship childcare programme threatened by withdrawal of funding by Welsh Government

January 14, 2013 9:30 AM

Welsh Liberal Democrats in RCT have expressed concern over news that flagship Welsh Government scheme Genesis could have its funding pulled as it has failed to meet expected targets.

The Genesis project was established in Rhondda Cynon Taff in 2002 with a European funding grant of £2.7 million. It was intended to provide help, advice, guidance and support for people looking to access work, training or learning opportunities, thus lowering unemployment and improving economic activity. A major aspect of this was the provision of childcare.

In 2005 it was announced that the project had been so successful it was to be rolled out across Wales with the help of a further £12.5 million. However, following a recent review it has been announced that the Welsh Labour Government are considering pulling the funding.

RCT Welsh Liberal Democrat campaign manager Karen Roberts is also Chair of the Cwmclydach Development Trust which runs a day care nursery. She says the knock on effects across RCT could be severe:

"Genesis directly run a number of day care establishments all across Rhondda Cynon Taff, and also commission places in many privately run nurseries. The provision of free child care enables parents who would otherwise have no-one to care for their children to attend training courses to help them become more employable. It is open to any parent or carer of a dependent child who is out of work or working less than 16 hours and is entitled to work in the UK.

"If the funding for this project is withdrawn by the Labour Government then what will happen to these nurseries? Many who are already struggling may go out of business altogether. This would make it more difficult for people to find child care near to their home or place of employment, and of course put staff out of work.

"There are also questions around what happens to those people who rely on help from Genesis to get the training, skills and support they need? What if anything is going to be but in its place? This is of course public money and we need to ensure it is being spent properly, but the decision to pull it completely needs to be carefully looked at."

Welsh Liberal Democrat Councillor Mike Powell says it raises more questions about the way in which the Labour Government are using European funding

"Yet again we are talking about schemes paid for with European funding failing to achieve what they set out to. This is another example of projects which begin well and have the potential to make a real difference in Wales but which appear to fall by the wayside.

"Genesis has produced some excellent outcomes here in RCT and across Wales in the past, but there is a need for some openness and transparency as to what the problems are. Is it a lack of monitoring, or is it a case of some schemes losing track of their original purpose and growing in ways which mean they then produce less tangible outcomes?

"Why is it suddenly that the Genesis project is seen to be failing - where has the monitoring and evaluation been over the past eight years? This is another example of Labour's failure to effectively deliver any long term economic development in Wales."