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Funding bid to extend scheme helping young people into work

Black Country Impact has helped nearly 5,500 young people get a foot on the employment ladder since it started four years ago, new figures show.

It comes as it was revealed Dudley Council, as the lead authority, is to submit a bid for more funding to allow the popular scheme to run until 2023.

Black Country Impact offers help in securing training or a job for all 16 to 29-year-olds who are currently not in employment, education or training. Support includes supplying equipment, as well as providing free clothing, travel, and childcare depending on the needs of the individual.

Black Country Impact has forged close links with more than 100 businesses or training providers. It can offer support in a wide range of sectors, with success stories already in fields such as catering, childcare, construction, hair and beauty, retail and teaching.

It is made up of five partners - Dudley Council, Sandwell Council, Walsall Council, Wolverhampton Council and Black Country Talent Match.

Dudley Council’s ruling cabinet will hear at a meeting next week that the programme to date since August 2015 has engaged with more than 12,000 participants. It has supported almost 5,500 individuals into employment, apprenticeships or further education.

The current contract, funded by the Youth Employment Initiative (YEI) and European Social Fund (ESF), and administered by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), is due to expire in December 2021.

But the cabinet will be asked to approve plans to apply to extend the scheme until 2023 by applying for further grant funding of £15 million. The council and its partners will need to find match funding of £7.5 million to qualify for the full grant, the report says.

Councillor Patrick Harley, leader of the council, said:

"Black Country Impact is doing an excellent job in giving young people a helping hand to better themselves or get back into work.

"Looking at how many young people in the Black Country it has helped, it’s an absolute no-brainer that we would want to extend the scheme and the opportunities it brings for as long as possible.

"Subject to cabinet approval, we will be instructing officers to draw up a robust bid to allow us to secure the funding we need to keep it going.

The project is currently receiving up to £34 million of funding, made up of £17 million from the European Social Fund and £17 million from the Youth Employment Initiative. It will also get match funding of up to £8 million from the Big Lottery Fund and other partners.

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