Flexible Support Fund helps people find work through local schemes
The Department for Work and Pensions’ £75m Flexible Support Fund has funded 250 groups across the country helping jobseekers into work, as ONS figures show 820,000 more people are in a job compared with 12 months ago.
Youth unemployment has also tumbled by 206,000 over the last year, the largest annual fall since record began 30 years ago.
The fund, introduced in 2011, can be used for anything that may help a claimant prepare for work, including additional training, childcare and travel costs.
Employment minister Esther McVey MP said: “Every day, Jobcentre Plus work coaches are helping jobseekers to get the training, skills and work experience they need to find jobs and get on their career ladder. Through this fund we can help even more jobseekers tackle particular issues that might be holding them back – whether that’s covering the cost of a driver’s licence, or childcare while someone goes for an interview - and funding innovative schemes for grassroots organisations.”
Money has gone to nearly 250 not-for-profit organisations that have set up innovative schemes to help give people the employment skills they need.
Cornwall-based Active Plus is one such scheme where military veterans have designed bespoke activities, such as confidence building, re-skilling and interview techniques, to support those who have left the services move into civilian jobs. Around 700 people who have been on the scheme have gone into employment or work-related activity.
Tim Cox, CEO and founder of Active Plus, said: “Active Plus has four divisions that help people of all ages. Whether it’s supporting a vulnerable young person into work or helping older people into their communities. We look to bridge the gap between those looking for people to work for them and those looking for work, our schemes deliver leadership, communication skills and help in every way to benefit the changing labour market.”
In Bexley, Enviroment Plus run a beekeeping support programme aimed at young people with a history of drug and alcohol abuse and at risk of being involved in gang activity. The course provides training in environmental health, customer service and computer literacy.
The School of Hard Knocks, based in London, is a charity that uses sport to help women from disadvantaged groups, including those from ethnic minority backgrounds and women affected by gang culture, to build confidence, motivation and discipline.
Jack Lewars, Director of Operations at the London School of Hard Knocks said: “The School of Hard Knocks works hard to re-engage youth and tackle a number of issues including youth unemployment alongside crime and health. We use sport and competition as a way of developing skills that people over the age of 19 can use to take steps into employment. The Flexible Support Fund has helped us expand and run a number of courses so that we can help more disadvantaged young people. Sport is a great way of teaching responsibility, motivation and team work whilst engaging young people beyond traditional methods.
“The DWP Flexible Support Fund has been fantastic in helping us to grow our services. We have a great relationship with colleagues in Jobcentre Plus. We work with over 30 Jobcentres, everyone is a little bit different, but all are passionate about helping their customers get the support that they need to get back to work.”
The latest job figures show that there more than 30 million people in work, 820,000 more than a year ago. The number of unemployed stands at two million, or 6.4%, the lowest rate since late 2008.
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