Sandwell jobs project faces closure amid cash shortage
An employment project in Sandwell which has helped hundreds of youngsters find work and training could end next year if further funding is not found.
Sandwell Council’s guarantee programme has helped get 700 people aged between aged between 16 to 24 off the dole since it began in 2014.
The scheme offered 12 months work or training with an employer and has led to 486 apprenticeships and 214 jobs.
The programme also supported vulnerable youngsters including looked after children, care leavers and those with disabilities and mental health problems.
Chris Ward, in a report to the economy, skills, transport and environment scrutiny board, said the council has now had to stop recruiting youngsters because funding is due to run out in March next year.
Saying since 2014 the number of unemployed youngsters in the borough has decreased by 2.9 per cent compared to a 0.9 per cent drop in the West Midlands, he said: “The significant decrease means that Sandwell is closing the gap regionally and nationally in terms of the number of 18-24 year-olds that are claiming benefits.”
In comparison to the Department of Works and Pensions’ Future Jobs Fund programme, which cost £6,000 per job and lasted only six months, the Sandwell guarantee scheme was, he said, value for money at an average £2,481.
As part of the scheme, the council paid 50 per cent of the national minimum wage for those who took up the job offer.
But Mr Ward says that subsidy makes it difficult to find external funding to allow the programme to carry on.
The scheme has cost Sandwell £1,737,044 and if it was to continue it would cost £300,000 and £400,000 a year.
Councillors will discuss the report’s findings at their meeting on Thursday(10).
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