Wales politics

Under-threat Genesis scheme created fewer than 800 jobs

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Media captionOpposition assembly members say lessons need to be learned from the £36m scheme

Fewer than 800 people found jobs through a back-to-work scheme that faces being wound up a year early, BBC Wales can reveal.

The Welsh government hoped Genesis Cymru Wales 2 would help 20,000 people find work or get qualifications.

But only around half that number took part and only 7% of them found work.

Opposition assembly members say lessons need to be learned from the scheme which was supported by £36m of public money.

It emerged last month that ministers were considering winding up the scheme in June, instead of 2014 as originally planned.

At the time they said an internal review had found the project was "under-performing" on some targets.

Documents obtained by BBC Wales' Sunday Politics programme show 10,500 people took part.

Of them, 2,186 got qualifications, but by June 2012 only 789 were working at least 16 hours a week as a result of participating.

Getting people into those jobs cost an average of £44,735 each - the target when the programme began in 2008 was around £13,000-per job.

Run by local councils and funded from EU aid to improve the Welsh economy, Genesis helps people struggling to join the workforce, particularly single parents.

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

About 15,000 of the people it was aimed at were in the deprived parts of west Wales and the valleys.

At the outset £67m was set aside to run it. That was later reduced to £56m, but by June last year just £36m had been spent.

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).

Political opponents say it raises questions about the way Wales has spent financial aid from Brussels.

'Lessons to learn'

Welsh Conservative economy spokesman Nick Ramsay said: "I think there are some very big lessons to be learned here and what I'm concerned about is whether this Genesis problem is simply the tip of a very big and very worrying iceberg.

"We know that a lot of money has been spent from the European budget over the last 10 years and that hasn't achieved the sort of outcomes we would have wanted.

"I'm wondering now whether that has been the case because the Welsh government is not capable of spending this money properly."

In a statement, the Welsh government said: "Officials are currently exploring fully the reasons for this under-performance and are considering potential alternative options for providing the type of support currently available through the Genesis programme.

"A decision has not yet been taken on whether to proceed with the recommendation of a phased, early closure of the programme or what alternative support would replace it."

Mr Cuthbert expects to receive a report from officials in March on the future of the project.

Labour AM Mark Drakeford, who chairs Wefo's programme monitoring committee (PMC), said: "There'll be lessons to learn undoubtedly from the Genesis experience and the way we handle the whole of this final stretch of the programme and we are very anxious as a PMC that we learn those lessons because we want to make the most of whatever level of European funding Wales gets post-2013."

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