EU gives pounds 40m to fight poverty

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The Independent Online
Some of Britain's most deprived inner-city areas will benefit from a pounds 40m EU package to create more than 2,500 jobs and 8,500 training places, it was announced yesterday.

Liverpool will be the biggest beneficiary, with pounds 11.8m; Glasgow gets pounds 10.9m, Manchester pounds 6.4m, and Sheffield and Nottingham pounds 5.4m apiece.

The money was welcomed by council leaders for the boost it gives to areas plagued by high unemployment, crime and ill- health. Further grants are in the pipeline to help parts of London, Birmingham and Swansea.

All the schemes were nominated by the Government two years ago, but there have been some delays.

Liverpool council leader Frank Prendergast said he was pleased that problems between the Government and Brussels had been resolved and the money had been released. "This funding will improve security [and] health and provide jobs to combat inner-city deprivation."

On Merseyside, the grant will go towards creating more than 220 jobs and training 1,700 people in the Liverpool Central, north Huyton and Netherton areas. The Liverpool Central programme will focus on improving people's job prospects by improving their health.

Cutting crime is crucial for the strife-torn areas of Hulme and Moss Side in Manchester, which suffer twice the average unemployment rate and 15 times the number of robberies. In addition to bringing new trade to the area and boosting existing business, the plan is to cut car crime, violent crime and burglaries by 10 per cent.

Richard Leese the council leader, said: "I am delighted at this news ... We hope to be able soon to agree with Government and local partners the structures and quality projects we all want to see happen."

In Sheffield, the grant will go towards creating 400 jobs and training 500 people in the north-west inner-city area, where unemployment runs at 32 per cent following steel plant closures.

Renate Smith, the council's Europe information officer, said they were "delighted". She said involving the community was a vital part of the EU urban programme. "It is a bottom-up approach, empowering communities so people can run their own projects and carry them on when the European money is finished."

In Scotland, 200 jobs and 4,500 training places will be created in Paisley and a further 500 jobs and 500 training places in Glasgow North.

Gordon Macdiarmid, the council's deputy leader, welcomed the assistance. "Glasgow needs this continued support, and increased financial assistance ... if it is to make a positive contribution towards al- leviating the long-term problems of unemployment and the continuing erosion of its industrial base," he said.

A spokesman for Nottingham city council, where 300 jobs, 800 training places and 500 child care places will be created, said that the money was "extremely welcome".

Most European funding was provided to regions, but the urban programme was focused on much smaller areas. "It allows us to address underlying social and environmental problems that ultimately have a detrimental effect on the local economy," he commented.

A spokeswoman for the European commissioner in charge of regional policy, Monika Wolf-Mathies, said: "Britain is getting quite a good share."

Parts of Naples and Venice in Italy, Lille and Paris in France, Magdeburg in Germany and Dublin and Cork in the Irish Republic are also to benefit under the programme.