The causes of social, financial and economic exclusion are both diverse and complex: low skills, lack of opportunity, low levels of ambition and confidence, and an absence of positive role models, not to mention poverty, poor housing and transport, and geographic isolation.
But the impact that this exclusion has on communities across the UK is clear. In deprived inner cities, depressed coastal communities and rural areas, there are higher crime and anti-social behavior rates, increased drug and alcohol misuse, greater health issues, increased numbers of long-term unemployed and a general decline in the social fabric.
Social and financial exclusion has been exacerbated by the recession, particularly in the case of NEETs, older people, and those furthest from the labour market. It is unsurprising therefore that such individuals are perceived as ‘hard to reach’, let alone engage and support, and they are often written off in terms of economic development.
The Outset service was developed in 2009 to prove such perceptions misguided. The service offers enterprise coaching, personal development and business start up training to help unemployed and disadvantaged people from a range of backgrounds to become economically active through self-employment.
An Outset service, running in a city, county, or pan-LEP geography, not only results in hard outputs – more jobs created, more and better businesses built, and quantifiable increases in GVA – but also delivers outcomes such as economic and social inclusion, skills uplift, culture change, and pipeline creation for local finance and workspace suppliers.
It builds on a decade of best practice in reaching and supporting disadvantaged clients and under-represented groups, and has been proven to change cultures, combat poverty, generate wealth and transform lives. A growth strategy without such an inclusive and innovative service will miss a significant opportunity for LEP-wide job and wealth creation.
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In the last four years, the Outset service has engaged more than 20,727 individuals, supporting the creation of over 4,176 new businesses and 4,625 new jobs; and the service continues to demonstrate its value and impact on both an economic and social level.
Outset is estimated to have saved over £22 million in benefits payments throughout the UK, with these new enterprises contributing £4 million in taxes, and at least £16 million GVA to the economy. This represents a return of nearly 200% to the public purse.
Not to mention the strong social return delivered through the programme, reducing social and financial exclusion, strengthening deprived communities and helping people escape poverty.
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