Agenda item

Communities for Work


That the Committee supports the progress made in delivering the employment programmes.


The Chief Officer (Planning, Environment and Economy) introduced a report to provide information on the Enterprise and Regeneration service and to update Members on the delivery of the Welsh Government (WG) employability programmes in Flintshire.


In response to a previous request, the Service Manager - Enterprise and Regeneration circulated a briefing note and gave an overview of the roles and current activities within each service area following a recent restructure.  A diagram of the new structure indicated that the majority of teams were externally funded.  A number of positive outcomes were reported such as support given by the Social Enterprise team to a social business recognised at the recent Flintshire Business Awards along with the Regional Economy team’s success in securing £9m of funding for digital connectivity.  A report on work by the Programme Development function on an approach to delivering social value through procurement activity would be scheduled for the Committee’s meeting in March.


In welcoming the information, Councillor Dolphin raised concerns about the length of time taken to fill the vacant post to support town centre regeneration.  The Service Manager explained that resources had decreased over time along with external funding support.  The needs of town centres were changing in response to economic challenges nationwide, and officers would need to consider a new strategic approach to target resources effectively.  A full report on town centres would be received in March/April.


These concerns were shared by Councillor Hutchinson who said that the impact was evident across all town centres, where smaller shops were at most risk.


Whilst giving assurance that the Council’s limited resources would be used in the most effective way, the Chief Officer (Planning, Environment and Economy) said that the main challenge to high streets was the significant shift in the retail market across the UK over which the Local Authority had little influence.


This view was shared by Councillor Butler who pointed out that the offer in each town centre was different.  He said that everyone had a duty to support their local shops and that the Council was doing everything in its power to increase footfall such as encouraging landlords to make available empty accommodation above shops.


Councillor Palmer said that before appointing a Town Centre Manager/ Regeneration Officer, the right terms of reference should be agreed to ensure that they were not vilified for not doing the job within the current climate.


Councillor Shotton referred to the impact of internet shopping and asked about WG business rate relief.  The Service Manager explained that this funding was automatically given to eligible businesses.  On tourism, he said that a programme of work was underway to improve visitor infrastructure in coastal areas.


Other Members acknowledged town centre regeneration as a widespread issue which also presented problems for Town Centre Managers.


Sharon Jones, the Delivery Manager of Communities for Work and Communities for Work Plus, was in attendance to give a presentation on the employability programmes in Flintshire to support participants into employment and self-employment.  The Committee was shown a short video which illustrated the support given to apprentices participating in the Wates Construction ‘Building Futures’ project.


The Communities for Work programme was restricted to eligible postcode areas and offered intensive mentoring support for people who had been unemployed for a long time to help them return to work or further education.  For those who did not qualify, Communities for Work Plus offered a range of wraparound support to anyone in Flintshire who needed help returning to employment.  The Legacy Fund, which sat under the Enterprise and Regeneration Service, focussed on supporting the Business Entrepreneurship Network and social enterprise sector.


During the presentation, explanation was given on the range of pathway projects which aimed at equipping individuals with relevant skills and experience to enter the labour market.  The presentation also highlighted success stories and previous participants of the programme who were now acting as mentors.  Performance in 2018/19 was on track including some areas already exceeding targets.


Councillor Butler gave a reminder that all three programmes were reliant on grant funding from WG and he commended the dedication and enthusiasm of the team in achieving excellent outcomes.


The Delivery Manager advised that the Communities for Work programme was funded until 2020 and that verbal confirmation had been received on the continuation of funding for the Communities for Work Plus programme until 2020.  However, it was unlikely that grant funding for the Legacy Fund would continue beyond 2020.


In response to a query, information was shared on the programme of pathway projects to support the care sector by working with specific providers and the Health Board.  It was explained that projects were targeted at areas of need or at the request of a business.


Councillor Dolphin asked that parts of the presentation not included in the report be emailed to Members (eg  tailored pathway projects to link with forthcoming job vacancies).


During the debate, Members praised both Managers and their teams for their achievements on the three programmes.




That the Committee supports the progress made in delivering the employment programmes.

Supporting documents: