A PROGRAMME which helps unemployed people get back into work has been given an extra £1million to expand.

The Routes to Work Scheme, which was set up to tackle high levels of economic inactivity in the Tees Valley, was launched in 2017 and was due to wind down from next September.

However, Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said he was giving the scheme an additional £900,000 to keep it operational until March 2022.

The£7.5million scheme has so far engaged with almost 3,000 people and helped 573 unemployed over-30s get back into work.

It has been expanded to cover anyone aged 16 and above.

As well as providing additional resources to offer personal support to a wider eligible group of people looking to get back into work, the funding will ensure existing staff levels are maintained to support the programme.

The programme's initial target was to engage with 2,500 people and get 275 back into employment by March 2021.

Mr Houchen said: “Routes to Work does a fantastic job of targeting people who need help most, giving hundreds of people the self-belief, skills and training they need to get back into work and have a rewarding career, which is more important than ever before as we continue to deal with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

“My absolute priority is to support people and businesses through this difficult time, which is why I’m pleased to be able to expand the scheme to all ages, so we can support even more people and get them into good quality, well paid, local jobs – a key part of my plan for jobs."

“Whether through Routes to Work, the Government’s Kickstart Scheme or my Emergency Apprenticeship Fund, we’re making no one in Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool is left behind.”

For more information about the Routes to Work programme, visit teesvalley-ca.gov.uk/routes-to-work