Jobhunters in north Solihull have been dealt a major blow with the news that an employment project is set to close only months after its launch.
The Steps 2 Opportunities employment scheme works with the unemployed in Chelmsley Wood, Fordbridge, Smith’s Wood and Kingshurst .
But cuts to Advantage West Midlands have led to the loss of funding to the Solihull Council-run project which will shut its doors at the end of the year.
Councillor Mick Corser (Lab, Chelmsley Wood) said the closure was ‘a nonsense’.
“This is just another result of cuts that were proposed and we were told we had to make. If we are going to tackle youth unemployment - and young males are the hardest group to get into employment - then to take away mechanisms that are there to help is a nonsense.
“It’s the ‘price of everything but the value of nowt’.”
And Councillor Debbie Evans (Con, Kingshurst and Fordbridge) said the closure was a devastating blow to the area.
“It’s helped 16 people into work since May when it opened and has been highly successful and there’s another 165 on their caseload.
“They took on the cases that Connexions couldn’t help with- they really went the extra mile.”
The project team of six outreach workers, who are based at Linacre House in Fordbridge, are now at risk of redundancy themselves.
A worker, who didn’t want to be named, said: “Because of this quality service people were already recommending others through networking alone, so it was a shame that our funding was cut after such a successful start to the project.”
Jolyon Jones, UNISON branch secretary in Solihull, added: “How can this closure be justified? This project is about getting people into work. As these cuts show, they are unfair and will fall hardest on those people in greatest need.”
* One in ten people in north Solihull are out of work, well above the national average of 4.4 per cent and 3.1 per cent for the rest of Solihull.