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Minister for Social Justice and Chief Whip Jane Hutt has praised the progress and uptake of the basic income pilot scheme after meeting care leavers taking part in the programme.
The Basic Income for Care Leavers in Wales pilot provided care leavers turning 18 between 01 July 2022 and 30 June 2023 with the opportunity to receive £1,600 (before tax) per month for a period of two years.
During the 12-month enrolment period, which ended on 30 June this year, 635 young people leaving care in Wales joined the pilot.
The provisional uptake rate of 97% is higher than that of other opt-in basic income schemes worldwide.
The scheme has been heavily criticised by the Welsh Conservatives for allowing unaccompanied asylum seeking children to be eligible for the payments.
A Welsh Government source said the number of young asylum seekers leaving care every year is “a very small proportion of those taking part in the pilot”.
An evaluation of the programme will now get underway to consider how the pilot has been implemented and what the effects and cost of it have been.
Following analysis of these aspects, there are plans for a series of thematic reports to be published over the course of the four-year research programme.
It is expected to be several years before the evaluation will be completed.
This is due to the fact the research plan will track the impact of the pilot on their lives now, as well as the next few years as they continue into adulthood.
Minister for Social Justice and Chief Whip Jane Hutt, who attended a basic income pilot scheme event at the Future Inn in Cardiff on Wednesday (October 25), along with the First Minister and Deputy Minister for Social Services, said the early feedback from speaking to those taking part in the pilot scheme was positive, but it would take years for the impact and outcomes on the cohort to be fully assessed.
“We have heard fantastic feedback so far from those enrolled and are delighted with the record-breaking uptake, but we are still at the early stages of the pilot scheme and it will take years for the true impact on their lives to be assessed,” she said.
“It has been a pleasure to meet many people who have benefitted from the Basic Income for care leavers in Wales pilot scheme today and hear from them the differences the payments are making to their lives now and their future plans.
“We are now focusing our efforts on supporting young people with their transition off the pilot and learning about the affect it has had on their lives.”
Deputy Minister for Social Services Julie Morgan, speaking at the event taking place during Care Leavers Week, said: “The Welsh Government is committed to supporting care leavers as they make the difficult transition into adulthood.
“We understand it will take time to see the impact the pilot scheme will have had on those on it, but we are optimistic we will see the positive differences it has made to their lives and the opportunities it has presented to them that they would otherwise not have been able to enjoy.”