Council in Euro grant funding bid

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HARTLEPOOL Borough Council has thrown its hat in the ring to benefit from a European grant aimed at getting young people back into work.

In August this year, the European Commission announced it would be distributing £4m to develop a Youth Guarantee Scheme in areas with particularly high levels of youth unemployment.

Latest figures revealed that 1,405 young people in the town aged between 18-24 were claiming Jobseekers Allowance in September this year, the highest in the last five months.

It means 16.9 per cent of 18-24 year olds in the town are claiming the benefit, significantly higher than the North-East and national average.

Council bosses appreciate youth unemployment in parts of Greece, Spain and other parts of Europe is even higher, but submitted an application for the funding ahead of the deadline last month.

If successful, the funding would contribute towards attempting to reduce the number of young people in Hartlepool who are not in education, employment or training (NEET), and will target young people who are at risk of becoming NEET on leaving school.

Speaking at a meeting of Hartlepool Borough Council’s cabinet, Damien Wilson, assistant director (regeneration and planning), said: “At this stage it’s just bidding and we are putting a bid in because it’s the thing to do, but we are up against the whole of Europe.

“We will be up against places in Spain and Greece where youth unemployment is 50 per cent and above.

“It’s an uphill struggle, but we do think we have a unique case.”

The council’s application was submitted ahead of the October 22 deadline, and bosses are expecting to be notified of the results by the end of January, next year.

Fifteen projects are expected to benefit from the scheme.

If the funding was to be secured, which Mr Wilson admits is a “long shot”, council teams will meet to review the contract and consider any wider implications of delivering the project.