Public sector leaders in Suffolk have given their backing to a major financial boost to help more young people in Suffolk get into education, employment or training.
Published in partnership with Suffolk County Council
An extra £200,000 has been agreed by Suffolk’s council leaders and the Police and Crime Commissioner, with a further £200,000 agreed in principle for a second year. This is on top of £600,000 committed by Suffolk County Council - £1 million in total.
Currently in Suffolk 7% of 16-18 year olds are not in education, employment or training (NEET) and 12% of the county’s 66,000 16-24 years olds are unemployed. Suffolk’s youth unemployment position is in line with the national picture, but Suffolk continues to be challenged by significant volumes of young people who are wasting their talent and potential and are not able to enjoy the benefits that work can bring.
The investment will support the delivery of local projects to reduce the number of young people who are NEET or unemployed, including innovative programmes to prepare young people to benefit from local Apprenticeship opportunities. Suffolk County Council will work with district and borough councils, local education providers and the voluntary and community sector to develop the programmes.
Cllr Jennie Jenkins, independent chair of the Suffolk Public Sector Leaders group, said:
“Young people in Suffolk are full of potential and talent, but without the right support to fulfil that potential, there is a real risk of it being wasted. Indeed, in some cases it’s almost certainly what will happen.
“That’s why Suffolk Pubic Sector Leaders have given their backing to this vital programme.
“We want Suffolk to thrive and that starts with giving our young people the best possible foundations on which to build their futures.”
Regeneration and infrastructure projects identified
A host of significant regeneration and infrastructure projects have been identified following Suffolk being invited to pilot a new Government approach to funding local areas.
Suffolk has successfully applied to be part of a scheme, one of only 10 in the whole country, which is allowing it to keep an extra £10.4 million worth of money collected from local businesses in Suffolk in 2018/19. Business rates money is normally passed to Central Government. The one-year pilot, known as the ‘Business Rate Retention’ programme, allows Suffolk to retain 100% of growth in local business rates, to invest in projects that boost economic growth and support communities in Suffolk.
Cllr Nick Gowrley, Leader of Mid Suffolk District Council, said: “As part of the pilot scheme to retain more funds raised by Business Rates, we have an opportunity to invest those funds in really exciting areas throughout Mid Suffolk. This money will go into regenerating our high streets, such as the redevelopment of the former NatWest in Stowmarket, it will go into developing our tourist attractions, including Needham Lake and it will go into providing the opportunities our young people need, with provision of Youth Support offers at the Mix. We have a chance to use this money to improve our district for everyone, and will be creating some big opportunities over the coming years.”
Cllr John Ward, Leader of Babergh District Council, said: “The additional funds kept in the district from Business Rates retention can make a big difference to Babergh. We’ve recently spoken about our plans for Sudbury, and just this week we’ve been exhibiting the plans for Angel Court in Hadleigh: those are just two of the projects this money will be used to deliver. We’ll be looking at plans to invest in SMART Grid energy and other infrastructure for some of our key sites, and how we can keep up the pace in delivering more affordable housing across Babergh, as well as the regeneration of our town centres. As part of this pilot scheme we’ll be making every penny kept in Babergh go further, and I can’t wait to get started.”
The next steps are for each potential project to be developed in more detail with projects to start later this year.