A HOUSING association's training and employment service which has served 9,300 young people across the Bradford district has closed due to worsening results.
The Accent Group, based in Shipley, has delivered opportunities for trainees, mainly in construction, via its 'Accent Foundation' from a dedicated training centre on Barkerend Road for more than a decade. It has now decided this service will end once all current contracts are delivered, likely to be by the end of the year.
The association has said it is closing the service, which was linked to the Government’s Work Programme, because very few of its own residents have accessed it, and it was becoming more difficult to find permanent jobs or apprenticeship opportunities for those who did.
It added that this has, in turn, made it harder to meet the terms of the training contracts, particularly those involving funding dependent on successful results.
Maggie Punyer, an Accent board member and chairman of its Regeneration and Community Partnerships Board, said: “We are sorry to have reached this decision but, as was the case with the Work Programme which we left least year, we are finding that the payment by results funding structure is making it unviable without a significant subsidy from Accent and, ultimately, our residents."
She said the group was now developing a new training service, developed via consultation with its residents, designed to teach skills in IT, money management and gardening and home maintenance.
One of the most high-profile schemes involving the foundation was a partnership with property repair and maintenance specialist Milnerbuild in 2010, which saw 12 trainees offered apprenticeships as part of a scheme to improve 300 Accent-owned homes.
Accent said it was joining a number of other housing associations which have either stopped, or are planning to stop, their involvement in the Work Programme, and Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, Bradford Council's portfolio holder for employment, skills and culture, said the scheme had "failed to deliver" on many levels.
"Any loss of provision for training and employment in the district is a reason for regret," she said.
"It's a fresh blow to hear that housing associations, who are ideally placed to help people get jobs, are being forced to walk away.
"Bradford Council is committed to funding additional employment support for people over and above the Government's Work programme, which will not be affected by this news.
"Our 'Get Bradford Working' programme is the largest local authority scheme in the country, and never has it been more needed than now."
Alongside Bradford Council, Accent's other partner in the training programme was fellow social housing landlord, Incommunities, whose spokesman said: "We already operate our own construction training facility, 'The Training Terrace', where accredited and trade-qualified trainers provide on-site training for trades operatives, apprentices and trainees.
"As such, the closure of the Accent service will not affect our aim of increasing and improving construction skills across the district."