Initiative could boost employment

PUBLISHED: 07:21 26 June 2006 | UPDATED: 11:05 22 October 2010

Yarmouth has been asked by the government to bid for funding from an "innovative and ambitious" new scheme to boost employment.

Yarmouth has been asked by the government to bid for funding from an "innovative and ambitious" new scheme to boost employment.

The seaside resort is just one of a handful of the most deprived cities and towns in the UK to be targeted for the funding, the brainchild of three cabinet members.

Work and pensions secretary John Hutton, education secretary Alan Johnson and communities secretary Ruth Kelly have written to leaders on Yarmouth Borough Council asking them to bid for the initiative.

"This is a genuinely bottom-up approach," they wrote. "We want to know how you could make better use of existing resources to improve outcomes for priority groups. Above all, we want you to be innovative and ambitious."

The aim of the scheme is to get more benefit claimants, lone parents, disabled people, older people and minorities into work.

The cabinet ministers said that only towns and cities with the lowest employment rates were being considered, with about 40 being asked to apply. Over the past few years, the government has been pumping money into Yarmouth in a bid to revive the town, which has some of the worst deprivation rates in the country.

In 2003, £16.3m was granted by Europe, the Lottery and local government to regenerate the town centre and seafront in a scheme known as Integreat.

Last year, the town's Port Authority was given the go-ahead to build a £43.5m outer harbour with £12m from public funds.

The government last year also recognised the level of deprivation in Yarmouth and Lowestoft by making them one of 21 areas in Britain to be given an urban regeneration company.

In February, it awarded Yarmouth £8.7m as one of 10 towns in the UK given a pilot local enterprise growth initiative (Legi) grant to help create start-up companies and increase business sense in the town.

In April, £4.4m was awarded to revamp an area of seafront properties in the town which tourists brand a no-go area.

Last night, Peter Wright, Yarmouth's economic development officer, said: "We've proved how ambitious we can be already with our Legi bid. It also showed that we're not at all frightened of being innovative. We are discussing what approach we could take to this new scheme, but before we bid for it we'll have to decide whether it might divert attention from schemes, such as Legi, which we're already implementing."

The deadline for applying for the grant is next Monday, with the project expected to start in the chosen towns by the end of the year.

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