Home-Start Cymru reacts to Welsh Government’s 2024/25 draft budget
In response to the release of Welsh Government’s latest budget, announced by Finance Minister, Rebecca Evans on Tuesday, Home-Start Cymru urges Welsh Government to enlist deeper intervention for vulnerable families.
The Welsh Government budget sets out spending decisions for 2024 to 2025, with the aim of improving the lives of those in Wales. These spending decisions determine the extent and type of support available to families across this period and provide a vital vision for public and community services.
Although we welcome dedicated provision towards funding practical and financial support for families, such as the maintenance of the Discretionary Assistance Fund and the strengthened Childcare offer and recognise the positive impact this will have for many families, we are deeply concerned about the lack of dedicated support for asylum seeker families who are ineligible for most of this support.
While delivering direct support to refugee and asylum seeker families on the ground, Home-Start Cymru has grown increasingly concerned about the number of asylum seeker families we are seeing waiting lengthy amounts of times to receive their official refugee status. In the interim, families are ineligible for most of the impactful and essential support and are relying upon the generosity of charities. Although we recognise the limit to Welsh Governments powers to shorten this process for asylum seeker families, we urge Welsh Government to acknowledge the increasing number of asylum seeker families in crisis because of this shortfall by providing dedicated intervention for babies, children, young people, and families investing in early intervention services to ensure vulnerable families do not reach breaking point.
Additionally, we welcome Welsh Government’s commitment to protecting the pupil Development Grant and continuing impactful schemes that address poverty for families in Wales. We fear however this will simply not be enough for many families who have had to face a dramatic cut to the school essentials grant and are facing regular disruptions to free school meal supplementation during school holidays. This, coupled with the impact of reprioritising of multiple funds dedicated to early intervention support, will prevent families from getting the right support at the right time, and will have a negative impact on wellbeing, increasing families’ likelihood of needing specialist support in the longer term.
Jayne Drummond Chief Executive said: “Our volunteers work tirelessly to support families facing cost of living set backs, and the lack of provision to support families with children in school settings in the draft budget following the cut to the school essentials grant, as well as the lack of commitment to dedicated support for asylum seeker families in crisis, is an area of specific concern for us,”
Drummond continues; “At Home-Start Cymru, we understand the significant impact that financial hardships can have on families, especially during the winter season, which is why we are working to raise awareness of various Government schemes as well as our own support services. Our volunteers are trained within our Financial Initiative Programmes and can support those looking for assistance and guidance”.
Lynne Powell, National Volunteer Recruitment and Development Manager for Home-Start Cymru comments; “One of the unique aspects of Home Start Cymru’s approach is the practical help we provide to families in their own home. Our volunteers often make phone calls and assist with applications on behalf of families to ensure they are accessing the support they are entitled to. We are seeing an increasing number of calls from families finding it difficult to stay on top of their bills.”
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