Birmingham Jobs Fund to benefit from £2 million boost

Proposals to make an additional £2 million available to enable more employers in Birmingham to take on young people are set to be approved by Birmingham City Council’s cabinet.

The Birmingham Jobs Fund offers incentives to employers who take on young people in either apprentice or non-apprentice roles. Since its launch in April 2013, the Birmingham Jobs Fund has helped more than 2,000 people into work.

The offering was originally bolstered by the Government’s Wage Incentive Scheme, until this was withdrawn by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in August. This prompted Birmingham City Council to draw up plans to ensure that the necessary support would still be available to those who needed it the most.

Measures agreed by Cllr Tahir Ali, Cabinet Member for Development, Transport and the Economy, and Cllr Penny Holbrook, Cabinet Member for Skills, Learning and Culture, included maintaining the existing non-apprentice incentive of £2,275 and capping the apprentice incentive at £1,500, as well as reducing the eligibility period for the non-apprentice incentive from six months to the first day of unemployment for those living in the seven wards with the greatest number of unemployed young people – Sparkbrook, Bordesley Green, Washwood Heath, Aston, Nechells, Soho, Lozells and East Handsworth.

Given the success of the Birmingham Jobs Fund so far, cabinet members are now being asked to approve making available a further £2 million to continue and develop the incentive in 2015/16, enabling the council to meet its target of helping a further 1,500 job starts for 16 to 24-year-olds – meaning a total of 4,000 young people will have been helped into work over a three-year period.

Cllr Ali said: “Since its inception, the Birmingham Jobs Fund has been a tremendous success, helping more than 2,000 unemployed young people into work. However, youth unemployment remains a major problem in Birmingham so we remain committed to continuing to build on the success of the Birmingham Jobs Fund and helping more of our young people find employment.

“Although it was extremely disappointing when the Government withdrew the Wage Incentive Scheme last year, I am pleased that we were able to work quickly to ensure that the excellent work done so far to help our young people was not disrupted.â€

A renewed partnership with the Department for Work and Pensions, Birmingham and Solihull District, is being developed to assist this process.

Cllr Holbrook said: “The continuation of the Birmingham Jobs Fund is a key part of the council’s Youth Promise, which pledges that all young people aged 14 to 25 in Birmingham will be able to access employment, education and training opportunities within four months of leaving school, college or employment.

“I am delighted that we are in a position to be able to boost what has already been a very successful scheme and play a key role in shaping the future of our city through the opportunities we are able to provide for our young people.â€

Cabinet will consider the report and make its decision at a meeting on February 16.

-ENDS-

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