European Social Fund Boost Helps Council to Fund Work Clubs And Business Start-up Programmes

More funding allocated to shrink unemployment figures

Central Bedfordshire
Council is making it easier for local people seeking employment or skills training to access a package of support services by encouraging local providers to work together.

It comes as part of an extra £1.4m in
European Social Fund (ESF) money which the council will use to
fund work clubs; business start-up programmes for those who are unemployed and economically inactive; ‘Get Into Work’ programmes; and support adults with mental health issues back to work.

It means that the employment and training programme that the council developed in 2007 using £4.9m of European Funding will be able to continue and grow up until 2015. The programme supports a range of projects including assistance for young people not in education, employment and training; support for unemployed adults to start a business; a manager and leaders programme for small and medium sized enterprises and targeted work to address basic skills needs.

Cllr Nigel Young, Executive Member for Regeneration and Business, said: “We want to continue to improve the lives of those living and working in Central Bedfordshire. We arranged for 15 local providers to meet this week so that they can work together, pass forward referrals and offer a complete package of support with the ultimate aim of getting unemployed people back into work.

“In the first half of the current programme, the council smashed national averages for outcomes from the funding. For example, an external evaluation found that nearly half of adult participants progressed into employment compared to a sixth nationally. This extra £1.4m means that we can continue to give funding to programmes like this, through to 2015, that makes a very real difference to people’s lives.”

Nolan Johnson works for CAN Partnership, an agency for young adults in Bedfordshire trying to overcome substance misuse. He said: “It is vital that we work closely with the council and other organisations in Central Bedfordshire to help individuals understand the help that’s available to them. I myself accessed these services a couple of years ago and without knowing the various training and support available to me, I would not be where I am today.”