Friday, 1 November 2013

Lancashire's free travel scheme to help young jobless extended

Young people in Lancashire who are not in employment, education or training will continue to travel free on public transport, until March 2017.

In February 2012, as part of its investment into economic development and growth, Lancashire County Council allocated £1 million a year for five years to provide support for the travel costs of young people to help them into education, employment and training.

Later that year, the cabinet agreed to introduce a scheme to offer free bus travel within a specific travel area to all young people between the age of 16 to 18 who are not in education, employment or training, NEET. The scheme also included young parents and young carers in the same age bracket.

The county council then decided to extend the scheme until August 31 of this year.

At a meeting of Lancashire County Council's cabinet earlier this month, it was agreed to further extend the initiative until 31st March 2017.

Cabinet members also decided that:

  • Young parents and young carers classified as NEET who currently participate in the scheme will receive an additional three month's free travel on entering full time employment, training or education from this November until 31 March 2017.
     
  • The current scheme will also be extended to include young people between the age of 16 and 18 who are on an apprenticeship scheme organised by the county council
     
  • Options will be looked at to extend the scheme to include young people on apprenticeships that have not been organised by the county council
"The main idea behind the scheme is to support the many other county council initiatives to reduce the number of young people who aren't in employment, education or training," explained County Councillor Marcus Johnstone, Lancashire County Council's cabinet member for environment, planning and cultural services.

"Employment officers tell us that the cost of travelling on public transport can be a real problem when placing young people with a prospective employer. This scheme will provide significant financial help to young people and will also allow them greater flexibility in choosing the location of their placement.

"I would like to thank members of the Lancashire Youth Council's steering group which has played a considerable role in shaping the scheme. In particular, they came up with the excellent idea to change the scheme so that it now includes three months additional support for those young people who've taken up a job."

Before they receive the free travel, young people have to attend an interview with staff from the young people's centres during which their application is processed. This scheme makes sure staff from ! the young people's service have one-to-one contact with members of this group and to support them getting into education, training and employment.

During the first nine months of the scheme, 3,631 passes have been issued to a total of 1,004 qualifying young people at an estimated cost of £268,080. Of these participants, some 28% of these young people have gone into training, education or employment.

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