Young people leaving care in Wales will be offered the chance to participate in a basic income pilot scheme, receiving £1,600 a month for two years.
The money will be given to all 18-year-olds leaving care, and those taking part will be able to work in paid jobs on top of their stipend.
The Welsh government said the pilot would act as a “test for the stated benefits of basic income” – addressing poverty, unemployment and improving citizens’ health and financial wellbeing.
The pilot will be open to care leavers who turn 18 over a 12 month period commencing in the next financial year. It will run for a minimum of three years, with participants receiving payments each month for a duration of 24 months from the month after their 18th birthday.
Universal basic income
All local authorities in Wales can take part, and the Welsh government estimates around 500 young people could benefit from the scheme.
Welsh minister for social justice Jane Hutt said the plan was in line with her government’s “ambition to ensure the most vulnerable in our society are supported”.
“We know we’re in the midst of a cost of living crisis and we’re determined to continually look at how best to support individuals in Wales who live in poverty,” she said.
“Care leavers have a right to be properly supported as they develop into independent young adults.”
Hutt added that many young people leaving care face significant barriers in the transition to adulthood and finding a career. The pilot will deliver financial stability for “a generation of young people that need it most”.
Last year, the Welsh government announced it hoped to trial a universal basic income scheme for all adults. Almost half of representatives in the Welsh parliament signed a pledge in favour of a scheme to provide each citizen with a guaranteed sum of money to cover the basic cost of living.
The Welsh Government’s Technical Advisory Group on Basic Income, chaired by Professor Sir Michael Marmot, aired its support for the announcement.
“Whilst we may have differing opinions on how a basic income can work on a wider scale, we can all agree that any scheme aimed at helping a particularly vulnerable group should be welcomed and intend to provide the Welsh Government with the support it needs in making this a success,” it said.
Catriona Williams, chair of voices for Care Cymru, said it was critical that the pilot was a success so that “the voices of care-experienced children and young people are heard on decisions like this that directly affect their lives”.
“We look forward to working with the Welsh Government to help ensure that the pilot is successful and delivers the best possible outcomes for care experienced young people in Wales so they can thrive,” she added.