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Creating and promoting employment opportunities across the Highlands

14th August 2013

The Highland Council is to re-launch its Deprived Area Fund to help create employment opportunities and tackle poverty, with the new Area Committees playing a key role in determining how money is spent locally.

440K of funding for each of the next 3 years will be distributed based on the location of the most deprived areas in Highland.

The funds will be distributed to the Area Committees as follows:

City of Inverness Area 160k;
Caithness & Sutherland Area 100k;
Skye, Ross & Cromarty Area 130k;
Lochaber Area 30k
Nairn, Badenoch & Strathspey Area 20k

The Fund has disbursed a total of 1.248m to deprived areas across the Highlands over the last 3 years. The money has been used to provide grants to assist 38 community led projects focussing on helping people learn new skills and get into the jobs market.

Successes include the Merkinch Workclubs with over 50 people attending two work clubs each week with 41 people moving into employment last year; the Silver Networks project set up in Balintore which brings together retired professionals with local young people; assisting Alness teenagers gain qualifications and work experience during a summer play scheme and supporting Pulteneytown Peoples Project to run monthly community markets which have supported the local economy and local people.

At the Planning, Environment and Development Committee held on Wednesday 14th August 2013 members agreed to revitalise the programme in order to align it more closely with the Councils Working Together for the Highlands Programme and other projects tackling poverty and disadvantage.

Chairman of The Highland Councils PED Committee, Councillor Thomas Prag welcomed the move that will see decision making devolved to the Area Committees so money can be targeted to where it is needed most.

He said: We have put considerable financial resources and effort into the Deprived Area Fund Programme over the last 3 years and the various successes are down to the huge engagement and voluntary efforts of hundreds of people and agencies that are working together to develop better communities. We want to keep this momentum of energy and commitment going so we have taken the opportunity to review and plan for the future. Devolving the decision making to Area Committees and the revised criteria will increase flexibility and allow the focus to be clearly on making long term progress in deprived areas and aligning our work to complement the other initiatives that are running.

As well as creating as wide a geographical benefit as possible, the Fund will give Area Committees the opportunity to determine the best use of how money is spent taking into account local issues. Tapping into this knowledge of local need will make sure the allotted money has the most impact and acts as a catalyst for social and economic change.

It is all about helping people make a difference to their lives by creating real job opportunities with prospects for the future. The aim is also to give communities support to develop and implement activities that can improve the quality of life and boost regeneration for many years to come.

 

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