How ‘Welsh’ Labour and its third sector keep Wales poor



In an earlier post of assorted items one dealt with the Labour Party in Cydweli. We looked at the party’s safe house in Llys Gwenllian, the abode of the current mayor, Phil Thompson, and – apparently – a number of others who’ve stood for the party in recent elections.

I asked if this was a house of multiple occupation seeing as it has also been given as his address by Arwyn Rhys Williams, a candidate in a recent town council by-election. Though now I learn that young Arwyn is the fruit of Thompson’s loins, but uses his mother’s name.

Despite the claimed address in Cydweli Arwyn’s Facebook page seems to locate him either in Swansea or Tenby. Maybe he should update it.

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Anyway, Arwyn lost the by-election, getting just 90 votes while his Independent opponent got 369.

Something of which I wasn’t aware when I wrote my earlier piece was that when Arwyn’s dad stood for the county council in 2017 his proposer was a Lois Poynting. Who is, as we learn from her Linkedin profile (here in pdf format), one of those ‘butterflies’ that have blown into Wales to flit between the public and third sectors.

Lois probably arrived in Wales when her husband took up employment with Calsonic in Llanelli and seems to be based in Cydweli. (Ignore ‘Swansea’ on the Linkedin profile as Linkedin seems to locate everyone to the nearest city.)

That Linkedin profile also tells us that up to November 2017 Lois worked for Shared Lives Plus, an Englandandwales organisation with its headquarters in Liverpool.

Shared Lives Plus brings people with ‘difficulties’ – and this includes youngsters leaving care – into Wales to live with ‘carers’ who may also have moved from England. These new ‘families’ often live in housing association properties.

This is what Labour candidate Beryl-Ann Williams was alluding to in her election material when she talked of turning Cydweli into “an autism and dementia friendly town”. (But of course it goes beyond autism and dementia.)

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This clear reference to the work of Lois Poynting and Shared Lives Plus also highlights again the strong and mutually-beneficial relationship between the Labour Party and the third sector.

A relationship that, on the personal level, has many times become sexual.

Though what I find odd about this Shared Lives Plus project across southern Wales (which then follows the M4 to the source of many of its clients) is the low key approach. I put that down to two things: one, a certain reluctance to inform the public; two, the project has all the money it needs.

Because in different circumstances the third sector is adept at using the media to publicise various causes and then exploiting that publicity to screw money out of the ‘Welsh Government’.

Here are a couple of examples.


A few weeks ago Swansea Women’s Aid criticised a police crackdown on prostitution in the city. In fairness, Plod wasn’t dragging the girls off to the cells but offering support, a way out.

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Yet it appeared from the criticism of the police action that Women’s Aid wanted the prostitutes out on the streets, in full public view.

And this is certainly the case with the homeless, who are blessed with dozens of organisations to exploit help them, using a fraction of the hundreds of millions of pounds these organisations receive from the ‘Welsh Government’.

In Cardiff, the city council has been trying to assuage public anger over the centre of the city having so many homeless people and beggars. These don’t just sit in doorways but live in tents they’ve been given by well-meaning but misguided charities and other groups.

A few weeks back the article below appeared in Llais y Sais. It tells that in the past three years 144 people have been given one-way tickets home from Cardiff. Some to eastern Europe, one to Bermuda. (Someone left Bermuda to live on the streets of Cardiff!)

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This policy – entirely voluntary – clearly angered Shelter Cymru, one of the major players in the homeless racket. The extract below is a statement by Shelter Cymru taken from the article above.

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Let me translate: ‘The pressure we in the homeless sector have brought to bear on the ‘Welsh Government’ has resulted in legislation ensuring that all those we can attract to Wales must be looked after. This system also results in us receiving tens of millions of pounds every year, at least 80% of which goes on salaries, pensions, new cars and jollies to conferences and the like’.

The homelessness debate has raged on. Just last week, former Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood was persuaded by her friends at the Wallich – another major player in the homeless racket – to speak in the Assembly.

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Is this venerable legislation really being enforced by our constabularies (perhaps with mutton-chop side-whiskers complementing stovepipe hats?). Well, actually, no. It looks as if the saintly Leanne was misinformed by the sisters-in-greed at the Wallich.

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Proven by the information (above) received by a source in response to Freedom of Information requests to our four police forces. Of course, it could be that our police have developed a sudden fondness for this antediluvian legislation in the past few months, with this not being shown in the FoI responses, but I doubt it.

It’s just the third sector doing what it does best – exaggerating a problem, or importing it, or telling lies to keep the moolah flowing.

Homelessness made the news again on Monday when the BBC reported on a scheme from Finland called Housing First that is being introduced by the ‘Welsh Government’.

An interesting read with – I am informed – a number of important omissions.

One being that Derek ‘Del’ Clarke, quoted and pictured in the story, is a native of Dublin, in Ireland. He was offered a ticket home and a flat was guaranteed by Dublin City Council. He chose to stay on the streets of Cardiff. (One-way tickets is also how the Housing First scheme operates in Finland.)

Homelessness is an undoubted problem, an indictment of any society, but no one should be allowed to make an industry out of it, with hundreds of careers sustained by the public purse.

Yet that is exactly what has happened in Wales.


We left Lois Poynting in Cydweli, arranging transfers of people with ‘issues’ into Wales, thereby increasing the burden on our NHS and other services. Now she’s working in Pembrokeshire, and doing very similar work.

If we turn again to her Linkedin profile we read . . .

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You’ll see that I’ve highlighted two programmes. I couldn’t find anything specific to ‘Communities for Work and Communities for Work Plus’ because the Pembrokeshire County Council website tells us: Futureworks delivers the Work Programme in Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion on behalf of Rehab Jobfit, one of two prime contractors for the programme in Wales’.

(Even though Futureworks gives addresses in Cardigan and Aberystwyth I can find no mention of it on the Ceredigion council website. Does Ceredigion council know?)

So what can we learn about Futureworks and Rehab JobFit? There is only a skeletal website for the second of them, perhaps because there is no Rehab JobFit company as such, just a Limited Liability Partnership, that most dubious and opaque of set-ups. Another possibility might be that bad publicity has forced it to either pull out or change its name.

The three partners in the LLP are Interserve Service Futures Ltd of Reading, TGB Learning Ltd of Birmingham, and The Rehab Group, of Dublin. All are interlinked and may be based in Dublin for tax purposes. Strange that this should be allowed by the UK Government for which Rehab JobFit has done so much work.

Let’s now return to the Pembrokeshire County Council website; you should start with ‘Apprenticeships and Training‘ and keep turning the pages. What we read there seems innocuous enough – training youngsters, giving them skills, etc.

If that’s all it is/was, why does it have to involve a company based in England, or Ireland, with ‘Rehab’ in its name, which of course is short for rehabilitation? The suggestion made to me is that young tearaways are brought into Pembrokeshire (and Ceredigion) for ‘rehabilitation’. (Often their families are similarly relocated.)

And this may be what’s explained under ‘Background‘ where we read: ‘Community Task Force on behalf of Groundwork UK – services for young people (18-24 years) who have been unemployed 9 months or longer.  Young people developed work related skills through community projects either in the third sector or in-house.’

So who are Groundwork UK, and how do they fit into the picture? And why is the Pembrokeshire council website referencing Groundwork UK when we have Groundwork Wales? In fact, we have a Groundwork Wales and a Groundwork North Wales!

The Charity Commission provides the information in the panel below. Note that Groundwork Wales operates ‘throughout Wales’, but Groundwork North Wales operates ‘throughout England and Wales’. How do we explain this?

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Is it the old story of northern Wales being treated as an extension of north west England? And might this cross-border activity explain what is clearly a reference to rehabilitation in the panel above where we read of people changing ‘their own lives for the better’.

This is a relationship that should have been brought to an end by devolution, but if anything, devolution has made it worse. Perhaps because we’ve had twenty years of a Labour government in Cardiff so desperate not to be perceived as ‘nationalist’ that it encourages England to walk all over us. And then dresses up this cowardice as Wales being ‘welcoming’.

Maybe I’m wrong, and maybe there’s some other explanation as to why Groundwork North Wales, covering just a third of the country, has much more money than Groundwork Wales. There may also be a simple explanation for why it operates ‘throughout England and Wales‘.

If so, I’d like to hear it.

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Lois Poynting worked for a number of years for Chwarae Teg. At Chwarae Teg now we find Gill Owens, an ‘Employer Partner’. Before that Gill was at Welsh Women’s Aid. And not long before that she was Service Development Manager at Rehab JobFit LLP. All set out here in her Linkedin profile. (Here in pdf format.)

Perhaps doubling up as ‘Supply Chain Manager – S Wales’.

Poynting and Owens seem to be ships that passed in the night.

With Rehab JobFit, Futureworks, Work Programme, Groundwork and the rest we are in the netherworld where UK Government programmes and private probation companies link with community work orders handed down by local courts to allow more serious offenders – from ‘away’ – to be slipped into the system.

Where the murk also helps obscure individuals moving between the public, the private, and the third sectors, but often doing very similar work. For example, before Lois Poynting was putting up the Welcome signs in Cydweli for Shared Lives Plus she worked for (takes deep breath) Mid and West Wales Health & Social Care Regional Collaborative (MWWHACRC).

This outfit has no online presence of its own, it just crops up in assorted references. Though I was directed to this document which has Lois Poynting signing, on behalf of MWWHACRC, a deal for services to be provided by Capita, one of the UK Government’s favourite ‘delivery agencies’.

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(Though Capita’s record is so abysmal that it appears regularly in Private Eye as ‘Crapita’.)

The document to which I’ve linked appears to show a Welsh health agency outsourcing to a private company. Is this the privatisation of Nye Bevan’s National Health Service so dreaded by the bruvvers? Do they even know?

But then, what exactly is the Mid and West Wales Health & Social Care Regional Collaborative? Is it third sector? Is it private sector? Is it part of the Wales NHS? To whom is it answerable?

Answers on the usual dog-eared postcard, please.

UPDATE 17.05.2019: If we look at Gill Owens’ Linkedin Profile we see that she gives her primary occupation as ‘Property Developer and investor at St Michaels Property Development & Investments Ltd’, of Ystrad Mynach.

Yet Companies House tells us that this company has not filed accounts since May 2018 (up to 31.08.2017) and they were for a dormant company with an address in Kent. From the same source we learn that three charges have been taken out in March 2018 and January 2019 for two properties in Leigh, near Wigan.


I’ve studied the operations of the third sector for a number of years, and certain things have become clear.

A fundamental problem is that too many ‘Welsh’ third sector bodies do not limit themselves to Welsh needs or interests because by importing many of their clients they can expand their operation thereby boosting their funding and salaries.

This constant importation of clients both distorts the picture for Wales and also means that no problem is ever adequately dealt with because to do so would put many people out of a job.

Third sector operators get away with this deceit because they are shrewd and devious, able to run rings around our politicians at both Assembly and council level.

Third sector operators like to present themselves as principled and moral, but when push comes to shove, and if there’s money to be made, or personal advancement to be secured, they’ll sup with the devil.

All of which results in Wales being burdened with a monster that must be constantly fed in order to sustain thousands of unnecessary jobs sucking up an ever greater proportion of the Welsh public purse.

This monster dictates that the homeless and prostitutes must be left on the streets for all to see; with drug addicts and delinquents perceived as business assets.

The third sector’s most significant contribution to Wales is to make a poor country poorer. How much longer do we tolerate this exploitation?

♦ end ♦


29 thoughts on “How ‘Welsh’ Labour and its third sector keep Wales poor

  1. D

    Back to the Mark reckless defection. One point he is a serial defector when it is to his own advantage and pocket and two he is another of those AM’s or politico parachuted in from England. Maybe a local political faux pas by Nigel of Kent, apparently well supported by the owner of Trago Mills – where the defection was announced?.

    But we in Wales [not including me] always fall for it, except in Blaenau Gwent [Peter Law] yet next door in Merthyr and I believe the latest parachutist is Dawn Bowden who is a Bristol City fan or was according to FB or twitter. Since elected now a fan of Merthyr Town Martyrs, a club well supported by the local Council as well, or at least financially. No doubt others will be there in future elections, get elected and get in the trough.

  2. Dafis

    I commented on this issue earlier on Nation.Cymru saying that “The regional list is particularly vulnerable to the criticism because they are party lists and people vote for that party, normally. However at constituency member level it is less clear as people can be attracted to a candidate for a number of reasons. I remain unimpressed by people ditching their party mid-term and if that is allowed there ought to be some rule enforcing “independence” from any other grouping until the following election when they could stand under new colours. Would need some considerable refining to stop clever dicks from bending rules, and we well know that most politicians fall into that class of person !”

    I wasn’t thinking of our ennobled friend DET at the time of writing being more focussed on these wierdos that flit in from beyond Clawdd Offa who seem to chop and change with the seasons. However DET is a good example of why the system is defective because he has ridden a wave of nationalist sentiment in your neck of the woods. Much like the proverbial Labour donkey in South Wales Lord DET was the Plaid sheep ( or goat) in N.W Wales. He may of course argue that his success was down to his personal charisma, his reputation as a man of letters and bon viveur, but let’s be honest he had a sound if not eternally safe seat built for him and the devious shit went and dumped on the party that fed it to him. Had he been a staIwart defender of core values I could see that he would have been pissed off with how Ms Wood & Co were damaging the party but in some respects DET was an even more contaminating influence. And he will stick there until the local communities turf him out or the threat of that unhappy ending prompts a retirement to the Upper House and sundry committees and other sinecures during his senility.

    1. There were a number of things that pissed me off with DET. To start with, he’d been flirting with Labour for a while before the 2016 elections, so many people suspected he was going to jump sooner or later.

      I caught him canvassing on our street and I asked him point-blank why I should vote for him if he was going to be in the Labour Party in a very short time. He pooh-poohed the idea. But I’m convinced his mind was made up to get elected on the Plaid ticket and wait for the pretext to abandon the Red Queen. (Though there I would have to agree with him.) So he’s in the Assembly now until 2021, by which time he’ll be 74.

      I didn’t vote for him, but many people did, and many of them feel betrayed. And he knew he was going to do it.

      On the question the Brexit Party, yes its AMs have jumped from Ukip, but in this instance more than most, they could use the old defector’s argument, ‘I didn’t leave my party, my party left me’. On top of which, most of those who voted for them would probably agree with what they’ve done and will be voting for Farage’s new gang. Because the bottom line is that Ukip was the Farage party, and now the Brexit Party is the Farage party.

  3. teilosant

    I have heard it from the police that they often pick up mentally challenged/problematic people who have been given one way rail tickets into obscure Welsh towns of which they have no connection or idea of where they are, from inner city England

    1. That would be not just irresponsible burden-shifting but downright cruel on those treated in this way. If you have any more information please send it on.

  4. Dafis

    Just noticed your tweet about Brexit Party in Wales and that bug eyed cunt Reckless in particular. I’m not at all surprised by his stance after all he is a “superior” AngloBrit for whom a supremacist colonialist attitude is a natural default position. It’s a shame that he attracts such a following here in Wales but that exposes the severity of the problem.

  5. Dafis

    Earlier I said that …”The bloated Third sector is a mostly unnecessary buffer between the public sector and the intended beneficiaries of public spending. Local authorities and other government departments have ducked the issue of managing services,….”

    Today Julie James said at Y Cynulliad …….” what we want to have is a seamless pathway so that we can hand people on to the right agencies in the area. We’re very keen to make sure that we maintain local connections so people can go back to any community that they feel they have a local connection with, or indeed if they’ve made a life as part of being in the armed forces quarters somewhere else, that they’re able to maintain a connection with family and friends.”

    Right agencies ? Well how many vultures are pecking at this particularly ripe case ? This illustrates the problem with having multiple agencies all criss-crossing each others’ alleged areas of competence without any of them showing any real capacity for joined up thinking and service delivery. With a Minister like Julie James we have little chance of breaking this vicious circle.

      1. Dafis

        You are pullin’ my fuckin’ wire ! No, on reflection that just sums up the whole rotten daisy chain of mutual backscratching that stretches out of Y Cynulliad.

          1. Dafis

            Very naughty of Neil to piss on someone’s gravy train.

            While scribbling it occurs to me that there is a strange silence about. I honestly thought that by now you would have had an assortment of pumped up defenders of the third sector way of “doing business” and others who have developed a lifestyle beyond their dreams ( and ours!) drawing handsome salaries and benefits from their employments in that sector. Or is this silence a tacit acceptance that their deviant little games are now common knowledge and they just plan on spinning them out as long as Labour lasts ?

            1. The third sector can’t afford to debate the issue because facts are facts. The third sector pulls down hundreds of millions every year, most of it goes on salaries, there is obvious duplication and competition, many of their clients are brought in from outside Wales, and this has to be done because to solve the ‘problem’ they’ve attached themselves to would put them out of business.

              Which means that unless politicians put their foot down, and pull the plug, we are stuck with this third sector.

              Obviously a huge third sector has served Labour’s narrative: ‘Look at the size of the third sector! We need it because we’re so poor, and it’s how poor we are, and it’s all the Tories’ fault – so vote Labour!’ But people are waking up at last, realising that Labour has been in power in Wales for 20 years, and that’s why Labour is losing support.

              As for me, I’m sure I’m dismissed down Corruption Bay as a bitter old fantasist, making things up. And there are many people with a vested interest in accepting that explanation, even though they don’t really believe it.

            2. Brychan

              It’s also the reason why Scotland (SNP) voted Remain and Wales (Labour) voted Leave.

              In Scotland the EU support was spent on stuff that ordinary Scots need and want, especially in poor areas. In Wales it was all mopped up by posh charlatans both in the third sector and corrupt politicians, so ordinary Welsh people never saw the benefits. This can also be seen in the electoral support for the main nationalist party. The SNP have advanced, but Plaid have frozen and withered. In fact Plaid are complicit.

              SNP expel the corrupt.
              Plaid expel the ones who expose corruption.

  6. Dafis

    Off topic, I see that Change UK is already fracturing up in Scotland. Very cohesive this “new way of doing politics” !

  7. Dafis

    The bloated Third sector is a mostly unnecessary buffer between the public sector and the intended beneficiaries of public spending. Local authorities and other government departments have ducked the issue of managing services, too much like real work ?, and opted for the creation of the vast buffer state which absorbs more resources than it deploys.

    Sounds parasitic? Well it sure is. When you have 48 management teams, and expanding, with their greedy snouts in a finite trough the poor buggers for whom services are intended are going to get the shitty end of the stick. Simple really but Drakeford and all his cohorts can’t see it, won’t see it, maybe because much of the loot is going to their close accomplices either side of Clawdd Offa. Such a scam would be a source of envy to the likes of the Mafia and Camora.

  8. Can’t comment much on the homelessness issue, as you’ve pretty much said it all, but I think emphasising the fact that there are 48 separate Third Sector agencies in a small country of circa 3 million people is a bit excessive. The situation would be much better if services towards the homeless were made a statutory obligation for local authorities. At least that way much of the inefficiency of duplication would be avoided, and staff costs would plummet due to getting rid of unnecessary levels of management, whilst at the same time maybe staff who deal with the sharp end would see a significant improvement in both training, remuneration and working conditions. Housing First seems to have a huge amount going for it, not least the huge reduction of costs as well as much improved outcomes in terms of people being able to get their lives into some sort of order.

    On the Work Programme issue, there will be little control at a Wales’ national level, as Pembrokeshire council here are acting as a contractor of Rehab Jobfit, who are in turn a contractor recruited by the DWP to oversee the various contractors who oversee the Work Programme, commonly called ‘Workfare’ – basically press ganging unemployed people as slave labour to for-profit companies to exploit. It’s no accident you found it dubious and opaque, as that’s deliberate, and indeed the DWP deliberately set them up as arms length ‘black boxes’, demanding only that levels of participation be reported back. There was not even any DWP oversight that workers provided to these schemes were even covered by Employer’s Liability Insurance, and thus many on these schemes were not covered by insurance at all, because they were neither employees, (not paid) and not volunteers as many Third Sector bodies who used this slave labour tried to claim. They seem to have had some difficulty in differentiating between someone willingly choosing to do something and being forced to do it on pain of starvation and destitution. However, the Work Programme has been pretty much defunct since 2015, though it’s coming back embedded in the atrocious Universal Credit, though I’m not sure if the DWP is doing this in house this time, or using the outside agencies, which proved to be both prone to corruption, graft and inefficiency as workers were about five times more likely to find work through their own efforts than through the ‘help’ provided by these agencies. About the only thing these schemes were efficient at was in transferring vast sums of public money into the pockets of the contracting agencies. The whole scheme was extremely lucrative, and not just for those agencies contracted by the DWP but also for those hight street companies who took advantage of the free labour.

    I’m actually a little surprised that you express some surprise that the UK government allowed offshore headquartered companies to operate in this sector, but this has been very much the name of the game. Though not operating directly in this area in the UK, Maximus the huge and contraversial US based company has taken over administering the Work Capability Assessments in the UK has had a huge and contraversial role in working with the jobless in Australia, and whilst there are a few minor differences to how things operate here in the UK, this investigative TV programme will give you a pretty good picture of how the system works. In place of Maximus, simply substitute Rehab Jobfit, Interserve Working Solutions etc. The system used here in the UK is really very similar to that in Australia – worryingly so.

    Looking at the website, it seems that Futureworks is a Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion provider, based in Pembrokeshire but it does seem strange indeed that there is no mention of this on the Ceredigion council website, ever if only a redirect as it seems to be one of those joint services that are becoming ever more common in these times of ideological austerity.

    Groundworks is, despite what it says, a UK wide organisation, and is one of the most disorganised bodies I’ve ever discovered, as well as one of the most exploitative of the Third Sector bodies, more than willing to take on the slave labour provided under the Work Programme and even having the gall to call these forced labourers ‘volunteers’, many of whom will be completely unaware that their legal status will be somewhat anomalous for insurance purposes. Again, I suspect that, due to the cosy relationship that Groundwork has with the DWP contracted agencies, it makes more sense to relate at a UK level rather than locally through the Welsh Government.

    1. I shall watch the video later, I have to go out soon.

      Wynne Jones, who comments to this blog regularly, has been trying for months to establish the nature of Futureworks but nobody is prepared to give him a straight answer, or tell him who runs the thing. Maybe he’ll bring us up to date. Over to you, Wynne.

      1. Wynne

        Stop press. Hold the front page [I’ve always wanted to say that] Latest response regarding “Futureworks” from Welsh Government received yesterday copied below. .

        “Dear Mr Jones,

        Thank you for your email of 22 April to Julie James AM, Minister for Housing & Local Government regarding Futureworks. I have been asked to reply.

        The issues you have raised are a matter for Pembrokeshire Council. Each local authority is an independent statutory body which operates within a statutory framework and is responsible for making its own decisions. As Futureworks is part of Pembrokeshire Council’s Regeneration Department, accountability and governance of Futureworks lies with the Council. Where an authority is undertaking activity outside of the county council it must ensure it is acting within the terms of governing legislation.

        Yours sincerely”

        I’m afraid it does not help to clarify matters as usual. I shall be responding to the Rt. Hon. Mark Drakeford AM shortly with the usual copy to Wales Audit Office. Pembrokeshire County Council’s internal auditor has previously advised she does not have the resources to undertake an assessment. Welsh Government internal auditor has, likewise, indicated that he is not prepared to investigate. Welsh Government’s Complaints Advice Team [CAT] has advised that my concerns can not be classified as a “complaint” and therefore they are unable to undertake an assessment. As the complaints process has not been followed the Ombudsman will decline to investigate. I’m now approaching the end of a second year of correspondence trying to get answers to simple questions. Why has a third sector body [with 55 employees] been embedded within an internal department of Pembrokeshire County Council and able to open offices at Cardigan and Aberystwyth in Ceredigion using PCC corporate logo and website, giving the false impression to the public that it is part of the public sector. I do not believe that this saga will end soon !

    2. Brychan

      (a) Providing homes for the homeless is already a statutory responsibility for local authorities, it does, however, rest with ‘local connection’ criteria of persons being housed. The third sector farm and displace persons who do not rest in this category.
      (b) Your trade union general secretary (Mr Serwotka, married to Ruth) will be able to find out the situation in Ceredigion. He has a third home there. The other two being in Surrey and Rhiwbina, Cardiff.
      (c)T he MWWHACRCLDP mentioned above is a partner of CAPITA one of the very private sector leeches you refer to. See the document above, the person mentioned sponsors Labour Party candidates in Carmarthenshire. Employment schemes are predicated on asset acquisition, mainly land and buildings.
      (d) The DWP issues you mention have been mitigated in Scotland because they have a government who put the people of Scotland first. In Wales we have a lapdog to the Tories administration.

      1. Hi Brychan, re: ‘your Mr Serwotka’. I suggest clicking on my avatar and reading it when it appears in much magnified form. You’ll see that I have no love at all for the PCS or Mr Serwotka. 🙂

    3. David Smith

      When I was unemployed a while back, as part of the Work Programme I had to deal with one of these Jobfit outfits, called Cais (or as I affectionately termed it, Cunty Cais). It was essentially a duplication of my standard Dole duties, show my job search log, talk to my advisor about how things are going, and the like. When I was under JobCentreMinus wholly, there was money available to cover travel to interviews, but this responsibility was now farmed out to these other idiots. Such travel expenses were of course denied due to there being no money in their pot. It infuriated me no end that there was funding available to cover my bus fare to Bangor to undertake the fucking waste of effort every week, and of course to finance the very existence of the organisation itself, but fuck all towards this real tangible chance at actual employment. Opportunities of employment being the thing that incidentally, not once did these wastes of oxygen produce my way, thereby betraying how fucking utterly worthless they were.

  9. Brychan

    From the Housing First Guidance from the Welsh Government, you linked above, we have “Housing First (HF) is a concept which originated in the USA in the 1990s and has since been significantly promoted across Europe and elsewhere.”

    The US example was a project pioneered by a third sector body funded by the Mormon church in Salt Lake City. At first, it was a disaster. Gifting homeless people with addictions a house resulted in establishing ‘Crack Ranches” where dealers and organised crime from all over the US set up bases. The state government had to step in and limit the scheme to only include persons with specific connection to the state of Utah.

    The best European example, was in Uppsala in Sweden. Nearly 40% who were provided housing were still in residential occupancy after 5 years. It’s success was because it only allowed the scheme to be accessible to those with a correct TIN suffix (Tax ID given to all Swedes at birth/naturalisation) on their national identity card. This references the municipalities funding the scheme. Those without the correct TIN were scooped up off the street and forcibly removed to the responsible municipality.

    Currently, the EU champion of ‘Housing First’ is the city of Helsinki. Too soon to find the success rate, but one of the problems there is the number of ‘foreign national’ rough sleepers, who are specifically excluded. These are shipped back to Poland, Sweden or the Baltic states under quite draconian laws, currently under challenge at EU level.

    I find no reference to this key feature in the Welsh Government Guidance on Housing First. In fact quite the opposite. It says “Local authorities and partners will need to decide to whom they offer a Housing First approach”.

    Whilst local authorities have a ‘veto’ on offers of housing over local connection (veterans excluded from this rule). The “partners’ as you have already identified tend to be Englandandwales charities almost wholly funded by the Welsh public purse. We risk turning Wales into a nation of ‘crack ranches’, establishing cuckoo nests for county lines drug distribution, and effectively putting up a sign on the Severn Bridge saying “send your problems to Wales and we will give them houses”.

    1. On reflection, maybe I should have mentioned drugs, which is responsible for so much crime, homelessness, prostitution and other problems. But then I would have had to introduce a whole new section of the third sector and considered ‘the war on drugs’ (which I don’t believe is being fought).

      1. I think you’re only partially correct there Jac. Much of the prostitution, drugs and crime are due to homelessness and poverty. The ‘War on Drugs’ was lost many years ago, and a far more sensible and sane way of tackling it is the approach taken by Portugal, and, believe it or not, Iran.

        1. I think there’s a case to be made for them being linked. People with good jobs who do not take drugs are very rarely homeless, rarely resort to crime. And much of it is chicken and egg.

        2. Brychan

          The ‘War on Drugs’ was a soundbite from a Conservative Party conference, back in the 1990s. It’s a non-existent unicorn, a phantom of the debate. Policing has, for the last 50 years of various Tory and Labour administration been based on harm reduction. Vulnerables are given referrals, officers and paramedics carry Naloxone, and there is priority access for addicts to primary healthcare in Wales. Chaotic lifestyles is the barrier. The supply chain is the main target of policing activity but scant resources hamper the success. In this situation, a ‘Housing First’ scheme will be counter-productive. It is for this reason, in the ‘good’ example of Uppsala already mentioned, a specific additional provision was provided by the health department and monitoring. There is no mention of this in the Wales plan, even though such resources are devolved. This would involve diverting the substantial Welsh government cash that’s handed to organisation like Wallich each year across to GP practices in our major cities.

      2. Brychan

        A Housing First policy is has been rolled out across Scotland. Councils ‘run’ the scheme and it’s funded on a case-by-case basis by the Scottish Government. Edinburgh is one such council, which is an SNP/Green coalition. At issue is the ‘graveyard encampments’ and it’s a problem because of tents, drugs, anti-social behaviour, needles and human excrement. All rough sleepers of Kirk land can apply for accommodation under the ‘Housing First’ policy. Of the 23 rough sleepers present, only 5 were eligible under ‘local connection’, and only one, so far, provided with housing under the criteria.

        The council recently wrote to Police Scotland for help and this resulted in all residual occupants of the graveyards being issued with eviction notices pending criminal prosecution. These were individuals who fell into one of the three categories, (a) not Scottish, (b) no links to Edinburgh, (c) had refused social housing on offer. However, the eviction letters have now been rescinded. Drug addicts don’t want houses as that prevents them funding for and getting access to the substances to which they are addicted. So what happens to rough sleepers who refuse accommodation provided by ‘Housing First’?

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