A council chief has welcomed a new £7.5m scheme aimed at helping 2,500 into work.
The Tees Valley has secured £6m of additional devolved funding from the Government and £1.5m from the Tees Valley Combined Authority.
The funding is awarded to the six combined authority areas with elected mayors, and the Tees Valley has secured one of the most ambitious and comprehensive programmes.
Hartlepool Borough Council leader, Councillor Christopher Akers-Belcher, the combined authority’s cabinet member for education, employment and skills led the development of the proposal, following direct discussions with the Employment Minister under the devolution deal.
He said: “This gives the Tees Valley a great opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to work together to find local solutions to address the most complex economic and social challenges. I am confident we will make a real difference to improve the life chances of people across the Tees Valley.”
Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “Over the last four years, the unemployment rate in the Tees Valley has halved. Our economy is growing, and more people are in work providing for themselves and their families.
“Things are getting better, but there remain stubborn barriers to work. This new investment from the Government, secured because we have a mayor, gives us a unique opportunity to address long-term unemployment.
“Today I’m calling on local support services, voluntary organisations and local councils to work together to provide the best possible support to help people back to work.”
The pilot initiative will support people aged 30 and over facing the greatest difficulties in accessing jobs.
This includes people who have been out of work for a long period, those who face physical and mental health challenges, and those who have had a claim for Employment Support Allowance rejected.
The initiative aims to support up to 2,500 people over the three-year lifetime of the pilot, move at least 25% into employment, and help the rest make significant progress towards securing work.
As a pilot programme, the combined authority will carry out a full evaluation, to understand which services are most successful, and make the case for future local investment.
Each person will have a key worker, they will be locally based, to ensure that support meets the needs of each individual.
Employers will be supported to offer valuable work experience and new job opportunities.