Anger over ‘disgraceful’ sum of money to help Hartlepool youngsters find work

Robbie Payne
Robbie Payne

COUNCILLORS have reacted angrily over the low number of young people who could benefit from a new pot of funding aimed at helping youngsters into education, training or employment.

Hartlepool has the third highest level of unemployment among young people in the country and councillors say the town should be receiving more help to prevent 14 to 19-year-olds from becoming long-term NEET or not in education, employment or training.

Hartlepool Borough Council’s regeneration services committee met to discuss a new bid for funding which could benefit at least 79 young people. But officers said they had hoped to be given scope to recruit 390 young people.

A report showed that if the funding bid for around £166,000 is successful then 79 youngsters would benefit. But the numbers elsewhere would be 249 in Darlington, 199 in Middlesbrough, 140 in Redcar and Cleveland and 355 in Stockton.

Patrick Wilson, the council’s employment development officer, said: “When we received the tender specifications to say there was only 79 in Hartlepool, it was rather disappointing.”

Labour councillor Kevin Cranney said he was “disappointed” while Labour councillor Rob Cook described the allocation as “absolutely disgraceful”.

Independent councillor Keith Fisher added: “The numbers are disgraceful” and called for information on how they are allocated.

Labour councillor Robbie Payne, committee chairman, said on the plus side, at least 79 youngsters would benefit.

The tendering opportunity from European Social Fund (ESF), and co-financed by the Skills Funding Agency (SFA) and Education Funding Agency (EFA), is to target 14 to 19-year-olds NEET or at risk of becoming NEET.

The tender, which covers the North-East, states contracts will be awarded at a sub-regional level covering Durham, Tyne and Wear and Northumberland and Tees Valley.

Hotspot areas for NEETs in town include the Brus, Manor House and Stranton areas.

The indicative funding available across Durham, Tyne and Wear and Northumberland is £5,281,553 and £2,173,618 in the Tees Valley.

Damien Wilson, assistant director of regeneration, said it is a payment by results project.