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Success for wage subsidy scheme

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A WAGE subsidy scheme supporting Copeland’s businesses and residents is being hailed a success.

Copeland Work and Skills Partnership is incentivising employers to take on new recruits with the support of a wage subsidy. Eighty-two per cent of businesses involved have retained staff originally taken on as part of the 26-week programme that is run exclusively in Copeland.

Supported by DWP and Cumbria County Council’s Community Learning and Skills team, the scheme - the latest phase of the Copeland Work and Skills Programme run by Copeland Council - offers a contribution of up to £2,500 towards wage and training costs of taking on a new recruit.

Small and medium sized companies employing fewer than 50 staff can qualify for a subsidy, which is granted to employers able to offer a minimum of 16 hours’ work per week.

Graphskill in Cleator Moor has recruited staff using the incentive. Manager Martin Statter said: “If you have a genuine opportunity to offer a job, the wage subsidy programme offers some financial assistance to help towards the initial training costs we normally have to absorb. I have found the whole process to have been well organised, professional and the simplicity of the administration was like a breath of fresh air.”

One of the beneficiaries of the scheme is Aaron Spedding, who has been retained by his employer Maxwell Flooring following the 26-week programme. Aaron said: “I am enjoying learning new skills and have gained more confidence in myself. I am learning how to install different flooring types whilst getting trained by master installers.”

The scheme has supported a wide variety of businesses, ranging from security to family support services. This includes businesses based at home. As part of a recent review of the programme outputs linked to Covid-19, the Partnership is to increase the number of wage subsidies from 30 to 50 continuing to extend its support.

Sue Shepherd, Employment Advisor at Whitehaven Job Centre, said: “This is a fantastic incentive which we are very happy to be involved with.  The scheme helps smaller businesses to expand and recruit extra staff, which in turn, has a positive effect on our unemployed register especially when the jobs turn into sustainable employment!”

Workplace training support is provided by Cumbria County Council Community Learning and Skills team, and individuals are referred to the programme by DWP. The Partnership is keen to hear from employers who either have a new vacancy or a vacated position that is part of their business operations. 

Ann Garside, Community Development Worker from Cumbria County Council Community Learning and Skills team, said: “The scheme has been fantastic to be involved with. It has been really rewarding working with so many different organisations offering training and support to their new employees recruited through the programme.”

This wage subsidy offer is one of a number of ways the Work and Skills Programme – jointly funded by Copeland Community Fund and Sellafield Ltd - is providing support through the challenges brought by Covid-19. Through the Programme’s Employability Fund, partnership members have the option of purchasing IT equipment so unemployed residents can access online learning as part of their journey towards employment.

For further information, contact Copeland’s Work and Skills Programme Team on chris.pickles@copeland.gov.uk or carol.pugh@copeland.gov.uk.

Aaron Spedding