A BOOST from the government could propel benefit claimants in the Chichester district into to work.
With long-term unemployment a ‘rising issue’ in the district, Chichester in Partnership is hoping a scheme called Choose Work can continue supporting people into paid employment.
Officers at Chichester District Council are set to apply to the department of work and pensions for a £50,000 grant to continue the scheme for the next three years.
Councillors attending a district council cabinet meeting on Tuesday, June 3, will discuss whether £30,000 from the New Homes Bonus is also contributed to the scheme.
The money will fund salaries for two part-time work experience co-ordinators over three years until 2017.
Over the past two years, 120 people have benefited from mentoring and ‘interaction’, with the work experience co-ordinator, with 47 per cent of the 49 people officially signed on to the programme finding employment. Only 14 people are still claiming Job Seeker’s Allowance and 30 companies, including Chichester District Council, have offered work placements.
A report on the findings by Amy Loaring, partnership officer, and Stephen Oates, economic development manager, said the project not only saved the public purse more than £115,000 a year but helped reduce participants’ mental health problems such as anxiety and depression.
The report said: “Such issues prevent them from getting work, but are not bad enough to receive medical assistance.”
Chichester in Partnership, which runs the project, is expecting a further 75 unemployed residents to attend a Choose Work placement.
The co-ordinators will work with the Jobcentre Plus to find businesses which can offer a minimum of two work placements each.
One co-ordinator will focussing on the rural areas of the district and the existing co-ordinator will continue working in Chichester, and the Think Family Neighbour areas.
Based on the current performance of the scheme, the partnership expects 40 per cent of people to secure employment – as the project co-ordinators will be working with ‘harder-to-reach’ individuals.
There are currently 2,580 people in the Chichester district claiming Employment Support Allowance.
In four years, between 2006 and 2010, the number of people claiming Job Seeker’s Allowance rose by more than 80 per cent.