People and businesses hit by the pandemic are being urged to find out more about support on offer as the latest initiative gets off the ground.

With latest statistics issued today showing five per cent of the Staffordshire population are claiming out-of-work benefits, the county’s economy leader Philip White said it is essential that employers and employees know where to go for support. While the county’s percentage figure remains the same, there has been a slight decrease in the number of claimants. Regionally the figure stands at 7.4 per cent and nationally 6.6 per cent.

The latest initiative encourages businesses to take on six-month work placements for 16 to 24-year-olds which will be funded by the Government. The national Kickstart scheme will be locally coordinated by the Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce. Businesses will also receive additional funding to improve people’s skills while on a placement. Employers wanting to find out more about taking on 30 placements or less should email: kickstart@staffordshirechambers.co.uk  Businesses wanting to offer over 30 placements should apply directly to the Government. 

Information on the Kickstart scheme and all other support programmes can be access through the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Growth Hub team at www.stokestaffsgrowthhub.co.uk or by calling the advice line on 0800 111 3002.

Staffordshire County Council’s deputy leader and cabinet member for economy and skills Philip White said:

“Today’s figures show that we must continue our drive to support people and businesses through these difficult times – however Staffordshire is proving its resilience in the circumstances. The county has actually seen a slight numerical decrease in claimants where there has been a rise both regionally and nationally.

“As we head into what will be very challenging winter months for communities and our economy, we want to make sure people and businesses can access the support they need. At the end of this month the national Job Retention Scheme will be replaced by the Job Support Scheme which we welcome in providing continued backing to those who need it.

“We’re now urging employers to get involved in the Kickstart scheme, which will be locally coordinated by our chambers of commerce. This can make a huge difference to young people entering employment and give them the grounding they need for their careers. It can also be rewarding for companies receiving the energy and determination of young people keen to make their mark.

“Working with our partners we have put in place a strong package of support for people and businesses and would urge them to find out more through our Growth Hub team.”

The Covid-19 support package put in place by the county council  includes a £500,000 emergency grant scheme for micro businesses, a £360,000 fund for start-up businesses, a PPE starter pack programme that has supported nearly 2,000 micro businesses and cancelling delayed rent payments at enterprise centres.

This is in addition to the £143million made available to businesses by the Government through district and borough councils for small businesses, a countywide redundancy task group made up of 20 organisations and the national Job Retention Scheme.

Information about all programmes is available at www.stokestaffsgrowthhub.co.uk

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