Wales politics

Genesis Cymru Wales 2: £36m work scheme faces closure

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Media captionThe Welsh government wants to revoke £23m of European funding from Genesis Cymru Wales 2

A back-to-work scheme supported by £36m of public money faces being wound up a year early after a review found it was failing to hit some targets.

The Welsh government wants to revoke £23m of European funding from Genesis Cymru Wales 2, which the review said was "under-performing".

It was supposed to find work for people struggling to get jobs, including single parents.

Officials are looking at ways to close the scheme ahead of schedule in June.

Genesis Cymru Wales 2 was set up in 2008 to help 20,000 people into work, 15,000 of them in the deprived parts of west Wales and the valleys.

It is run by local councils and aimed at people who faced obstacles getting jobs.

Health visitors and social workers can refer people to the service, and they then meet advisers to discuss the support they need.

The scheme offers mentoring, help with childcare and assistance for people to attend training courses and interviews.

It began in Rhondda Cynon Taf, was extended to all 22 counties in 2008 and was due to continue until June 2014.

However, Education Minister Leighton Andrews and his deputy, Jeff Cuthbert, have decided to "de-commit" £23m for the programme from the Wales European Funding Office (Wefo). They have also approved preparations for its early completion by June.

Between October 2008 to September 2011, £24.3m was spent on the programme. The Welsh government says a further £11.6m claim is pending with Wefo for October 2011 to September 2012.

A spokesman said Mr Cuthbert had not yet taken a final decision about whether to close the scheme, so it was not possible to "speculate" about potential job losses.

'Testament to Labour's failure'

He said: "A recent internal review of Genesis Cymru Wales 2 has identified that the programme is under-performing in relation to some key performance outputs.

"This review has identified opportunities to improve outcomes through alternative modes of delivery, including integration of the support available through the Genesis programme within other existing employability programmes.

"As such, the deputy minister for skills has asked officials to explore fully the reasons for under-performance and to consider a recommendation for a phased, early closure of Genesis Cymru Wales 2, including potential alternative options for providing the type of support currently available through the Genesis programme."

Political opponents are seeking assurances about what will replace the scheme.

Peter Black, Welsh Liberal Democrats' finance spokesman, said: "There are some very serious questions to ask what has gone wrong, why it has gone wrong but, more importantly, what the impact is going to be on those people who rely on this fund to get the skills and support they need to get back into work.

"And the second question, of course, is what is going to replace the fund? You can't just withdraw the fund without putting something in its place."

Conservative enterprise spokesman Nick Ramsay said: "While it is welcome to see ministers evaluating their policies and closing down a failing scheme to reinvest in other job creation programmes, this is testament to Labour's failure to properly invest in job creation schemes which actually deliver for the people of Wales."

Plaid Cymru AM Simon Thomas said: "The government needs to publish detailed reasons for scrapping the Genesis Cymru Wales 2 programme, and not hide behind vague references to an internal review."

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