Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Jobless see £1 million a year spending to help them find work

A £3 million drive has been announced in West Somerset to turn around long-term unemployment and to help people access training and education to improve their job opportunities.
The Government funding will be spread over the next three years.
West Somerset Council’s economic development portfolio holder, Councillor Michael Downes, said: “This is a welcome investment in West Somerset and we will make sure the resources are targeted wisely to get the maximum benefit for local people and the local economy.
“While much of West Somerset may appear to be a Garden of Eden to visitors, we are pleased the Government has recognised there is deprivation in the area and has taken steps to help us address the issue.
“Many people perceive deprivation as a problem of troubled inner-city estates, but these are not a feature locally and our crime rate is among the lowest in the country.
“However, we do have pockets of deprivation across a wide geographical area which are linked to low income and unemployment.”
Sixty-six local, and 21 transitional, authorities will receive a share of the Government’s new £1.5 billion Working Neighbourhoods Fund.
Funding allocations are based in part on the most comprehensive mapping of prosperity and deprivation across England.
The recently published Indices of Multiple Deprivation 2007 show that 20 per cent of men and women living in the most deprived fifth of areas are not in work.
Tourism, while a major employer in West Somerset, is seasonal by nature and many jobs do not exceed the national minimum wage.
More than 26 per cent of people in West Somerset are employed in this sector, compared to a South West average of 9.4 per cent and a national average of 8.3 per cent.
Allied industries such as the hotel and restaurant trades, where work can also be part-time and seasonal, employ 38.3 per cent of local residents compared to a national average of 23.5 per cent.
Councillor Downes said: “We also suffer from poor transport links to motorways and we have tight planning controls to protect our area’s natural beauty which makes it harder to find suitable, accessible sites for industry.
“We will work with partners and the community to support self-employed people and small businesses who will be helped to grow and in turn employ more local people.
“We need to attract suitable new businesses where possible, and assist the long-term unemployed to access training and education to get back into work.”
Council leader Councillor Keith Ross said: “This is good news for West Somerset.
“Any initiative that will help break the cycle of long-term unemployment and lack of economic growth is positive for all of us.
“It will help the local economy in the short-term, and build future prosperity so that the next generation will want to stay and work in West Somerset.
“The money will help us to develop a new approach to tackling the problem.
“We need to pull together as a community to deal with deprivation because it affects everybody.
“We are looking forward to working with local people and partners to meet the challenge.”

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