Hundreds start up businesses
Hundreds of unemployed people in the East of England have started up businesses with cash provided through a government scheme which will now be expanded as a result.
The New Enterprise Allowance sees jobseekers aged 18 or over offered mentoring to develop a business plan. If it is viable they are then offered a weekly allowance worth �1,274 over 26 weeks, plus access to a �1,000 loan to set up their firm.
Between August 2011 and May this year in the East of England 1,170 people started with a mentor, with 420 then going on to set up a business.
But the figures suggest fewer people in the region, around one in three, are moving from mentoring to setting up a company than in the rest of the UK, where the average is one in two,
Employment minister Mark Hoban said: 'It is slightly below the national average. The mentor is there to push people to think about their business plan; whether it is viable or not and to ask what the market is.
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'Some don't move on because the business plan doesn't stack up, meanwhile others actually find employment elsewhere while being mentored.
'But [the lower figures in the East are] something we need to understand from working with job centre plus. It's certainly not down to a lack of entrepreneurial zeal in the East of England though.'
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Mr Hoban said the successful take up of the scheme around the country meant that the government would now increase the number of places available nationally by 33,000.
Furthermore, he explained that in areas like East Anglia, which have pockets of deprivation amidst more affluent places, the government was working through Jobcentres to ensure the scheme was available to people in every town and village.
The minister added: 'These are people that want to take responsibility for looking after their families and see self-employment as a way to do that. It's an attractive route in that it gives some flexibility.
'It gives people the opportunity to realise their full potential and do something they've always dreamed of.'