Wednesday, 4 February 2009

THANET WORKS PLANS EXAMINED

Thanet district Council press release

Plans to help get people off benefits and back into work, using more than £4 million of government funding, have been discussed by members of Thanet District Council’s watchdog body.

Members of the Overview and Scrutiny Panel were given a presentation about the Thanet Works programme, the name for the money that Thanet is receiving from the Working Neighbourhoods Fund. The money, which lasts until April 2011, is aimed specifically at areas with higher levels of unemployment and Thanet is the only part of Kent to qualify for the funding.

The presentation explained to members that the money is to be used to come up with innovative ways to tackle the problems that people face in getting work and the issue of low skill levels. Thanet Works involves a number of organisations, including employers, Jobcentre Plus, Thanet District Council, the Learning and Skills Council and Kent County Council and focuses on four main groups of people. The money is targeted at school leavers, those who will be leaving school soon, people on out of work benefits and those who are employed, with no or few qualifications.

Questions from the Panel covered a range of issues, including how partners would be held accountable for delivering results, how success will be judged and how local people and organisations can become more involved with the programme.

Chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny Panel, Cllr. Bob Bayford, said: “Thanet Works is an initiative that has a tough job ahead of it, particularly in the current economic climate. It’s an important programme and one that needs to succeed in order to help people across Thanet to get into work. Perhaps one of the most frightening statistics that we heard during the presentation we were given is that almost a quarter of children in Thanet live in households that have no adults in employment. Figures like that highlight that this is a major issue and that’s why we spent a long time finding out more about the project and offering suggestions and questioning how it will work. We’ll also be keeping a watching brief on the programme to ensure that it does deliver what it is setting out to do.”

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