WALES will build a new future out of the coronavirus pandemic, the Welsh Government announced today, providing £320m towards the immediate reconstruction work.
Counsel General Jeremy Miles said although coronavirus is still very much with us, part of our response must be to prevent longer-term damage being caused by the virus, especially to younger people who could be the hardest hit.
The Welsh Government today publishes Covid Reconstruction – Challenges and Priorities – which sets out eight priority areas, including short and long-term actions, to help stabilise Wales as we continue to live with the virus and to make sure we’re ready to rebuild once a vaccine or a cure has been found.
The priority areas were drawn up following an extensive conversation with the public and key sectors across Wales. #OurFutureWales received more than 2,000 responses.
The £320m package will be invested in projects and schemes in each of the priority areas over the next six months to maximise the impact of our available resources this financial year to support our recovery.
Key priorities which will be funded over the next six months include:
support for young people including additional ‘catch-up’ provision for those in years 11 to 13, expanded enrolment for extra places in further education and digital devices to help learners access their courses;
capital investment – for example, in low carbon housing, schools and primary care – to create and protect construction jobs, deliver new and more energy efficient homes and boost public services;
and tackling inequalities, with support for BAME communities who have been severely impacted by Covid-19.
Jeremy Miles said, “There’s no doubt our future will look different as a consequence of coronavirus. But that future is not fixed and we have an opportunity to shape it.
“To inform the reconstruction work we need to do, we asked people to tell us what mattered most to them in light of their experience of Covid, and this has helped shape the priorities we are setting out today for how we respond for the future.
“You told us you wanted to build a future that is fairer, where nobody is held back and which addresses the very real inequalities laid bare by the pandemic. A future where public services work for everyone, where community is celebrated, where we strive for fair work and prosperity for everyone, where our children get the best start in life, and where our natural environment is cherished.
“As with much of our response to date, these priorities can best be taken forward in partnership with others in the public, private and third sectors who we work with in the Welsh Government. And they can only be taken forward with the support of the people of Wales – whose dedication to the task of reconstruction, we are confident, will equal their commitment to tackling the Covid 19 pandemic itself.”
Finance Minister Rebecca Evans said: “The pandemic has had a profound effect on all parts of our lives; but in spite of the challenges and demands it continues to present, we are determined to maintain the progress of the last four years to keep Wales moving forward, guided by our values.
“Your ideas have given us a very clear sense of how people in Wales feel their lives have been affected by coronavirus. The priorities for reconstruction which we are setting out today reflect those concerns.
“While much uncertainty remains about our budgets beyond this financial year, I am determined to maximise the impact of our available resources to support our recovery. The Welsh Government is stepping up to provide some much needed certainty in these uncertain times.”