Top business in dire need
by Nadia Sam-Daliri A skills training centre hailed as a shining example for other businesses across the UK says it is in dire financial straights. LEAP, Local Employment Access Projects, in Hazel Road, Kensal Green has been helping Brent
by Nadia Sam-Daliri
A skills training centre hailed as a shining example for other businesses across the UK says it is in dire financial straights.
LEAP, Local Employment Access Projects, in Hazel Road, Kensal Green has been helping Brent's unemployed back into work since 1993.
But the group, mainly funded by the London Development Agency (LDA), only has enough money left to last until June.
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Eugene Blavo, LEAP's director of operations, is fearful he will have to start sending away some of the growing numbers coming through the doors as the recession deepens.
Mr Blavo said: "We're in a dire funding situation. Our drop-out rates for courses are usually about 50 per cent but now people are desperate to get on and we can't cope with the numbers. We've done a lot for the community and were hailed as setting a good example of how skills can lead to jobs."
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Stephen Timms, London's child poverty minister, launched his Child Poverty Pledge at LEAP last year, praising the group for getting families out of the cycle of joblessness.
For the last three years, the group has received money from the LDA's Opportunities Fund.
An LDA spokesman said: "It's competitive. There are no guarantees for funding and it would be unfair on other groups if there were. We see more return by investing in skills support than regeneration projects like building so the amount we're investing in skills support has actually been more than ever."
Brent Council has never funded LEAP and will not be stepping in this year.
Town Hall bosses were told in November they will only receive �4million instead of the originally allocated �8.2m for employment schemes.
Cllr Paul Lorber, leader of Brent Council, said: "I cannot see the logic of removing funding for employment just as the country enters a recession. I'm worried that this will impact directly on Brent residents as economic conditions worsen."
LEAP employs about 20 paid staff and runs free dance, drama and youth club nights as well as skills training.
The LDA has provided �4.1m to LEAP since 2000.
The results of their new bid are due later this month.