PRIME Minister David Cameron has urged jobless young people in Blackpool have been urged to set up their own businesses in order to get off benefits.
Mr Cameron has announced extra government cash is being channelled into helping launch the next generation of entrepreneurs.
During a visit to Lancashire, Mr Cameron said the Start-Up Loans scheme was aimed at helping more people get off benefits by supporting them in their own ventures.
The Government has put in another £30m into the scheme, meaning £110m is available nationwide to help new businesses access affordable finance.
Blackpool has one of the highest rates in the country of young people not in education, employment and training at around 20 per cent.
While unemployment in the North West fell by 8.1 per cent in the three months before November, it went up between two and 2.5 per cent in Blackpool.
Mr Cameron, who made the announcement during a visit to the University of Central Lancashire in Preston, said he wanted to back “aspiration and all those young people who want to get on in life.”
The Prime Minister told The Gazette the scheme was among a raft of options the government had introduced to get more young people into work.
He said: “We have to make all of these pathways available to young people. We have expanded apprenticeships and we are seeing a good level of participation in higher education.
“These start-up loans are just beginning and we are creating new businesses at a rate of a 100 a week.
“For young people, who can’t find work at Job Centre Plus the youth contract is available, which includes work experience.
“With work experience, we have found half of people taking part have ended up off benefits and getting into work, so we need to expand that too.”
Mr Cameron answered questions from business leaders. Simon Peacock, from Lytham who is a director of Vlearn,org, an education provider for business students, asked why banks were not lending to small businesses.
Adam Soliman, from Poulton, who founded Charbrew Tea, said: “It’s a good idea, but businesses need to prove their concept first rather than just tick boxes and get money.”
Blackpool Council leader Coun Simon Blackburn said the loans scheme needed to be backed up by skills and training to make a real difference. He said: “Encouraging people to start their own business is great as long as it is backed by skills. But there has to be cash in the economy.”
Blackpool South MP Gordon Marsden said: “Over half of these loans so far have gone to the South East which is why the Prime Minister has made a trip to the North West to make this announcement.
“Any small business needs to have confidence in economic growth locally and we are flat lining.”
The Start-Up loans scheme – available by applying through www.StartUploans.co.uk – offers low interest loans of around £2,500.