Funding help to boost jobs

Ged Hall
Ged Hall

NEW funding pots aimed at getting unemployed people back into work have been backed by senior councillors.

The Department for Work and Pensions has announced three new national funding streams – which total more than £230m – which councils across the country can makes bids for.

The three programmes are the Flexible Support Fund (FSF), the Innovation Fund and the European Social Fund’s (ESF) Family Provision.

Hartlepool Borough Council’s cabinet committee met to discuss the new programmes and although there are no specific details of bids as yet, senior councillors have backed plans to make bids in the future.

Labour councillor Robbie Payne said: “We shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth.

“Anything that will help the work force in Hartlepool we should be going for.”

Labour councillor Ged Hall added: “These are significant funds that we may be able to access in some way.”

Damien Wilson, the council’s assistant director for regeneration and planning, said: “We will continue to explore all avenues for bringing funding into Hartlepool.”

The £200m ESF Family Provision fund aims to help family members back into employment.

Eligible families must have at least one family member receiving out-of-work benefits and a history of worklessness.

The programme is voluntary and providers will be paid depending on how many people get into work.

The two-year contracts will run until 2011 and 2013 with £200m available across 12 areas.

The Innovation fund, which is a £30m pot for the whole of the UK across the next three years, is aimed at supporting young people aged 14 and over.

It aims to improve youngsters’ employment prospects by supporting disadvantaged 14 to 17-year-olds to take part in education or training.

The fund, which will support eight to 12 contracts, would also provide help for those aged over 18.

The Flexible Support Fund is a £1.8m pot of money available for Durham and Tees Valley JobCentre areas up to March 2012, with the possibility of a further 12-months funding in 2013.

The FSF is aimed at young people who are facing “barriers” to unemployment.

Further reports will be presented to the cabinet committee once officers have more information about the funding pots. At this stage councils are just asked to show an expression of interest in the funding streams.