The UK Government Minister for Scotland and exports Malcolm Offord arrived in the Outer Hebrides on Tuesday 29 August for a three-day visit to see how UK Government funding is benefiting local communities, growing the economy and creating opportunities.
The Minister visited a range of government funded projects and met with Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and business leaders to discuss the current needs of the islands and future funding.
Lord Offord visited the Stornoway Employability Hub to discuss how UK Government funding is being used to increase the employability of individuals in the Western Isles. With the emphasis on encouraging upskilling, employability and training, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar were allocated a total of £1.86 million under the UK Shared Prosperity Fund as well as a further £388,000 for the Multiply programme over a three-year period.
Multiply funding can be used to support the improvement of numeracy levels of any individual with a Mathematics qualification lower than National 5 or equivalent. Anyone requiring additional information on the support should contact Comhairle nan Eilean Siar at: email@example.com.
Minister Offord met with staff from Skills Development Scotland, Developing the Young Workforce and Western Isles Employability, who are based in the Town Hall, to talk about the work they do in providing employment opportunities throughout the islands.
He also visited the newly resurfaced all-weather pitch at Smith Avenue, a project that received £198,000 in UK Government DCMS financial support via the Scottish Football Association. The funding allowed for the renewal of the playing surface to support continuing frequent use by schools and a large number of community sports groups.
Lord Offord was able to observe the facility in use and met with Sport & Health and education staff as well as representatives of local community sports clubs that use the pitch.
Minister Offord said:
“I had a fascinating three days on Lewis learning about some of the projects to benefit from UK Government investment. It was inspiring to hear all about the good work being done on employability to boost the economy, to encourage people into work and to consider career changes.
“It was great, too, to see first-hand some of the community initiatives progressing. The refurbished pitch near the Nicolson Institute will benefit local sports clubs and schools - it’s a tremendous asset for the area.”
Council Leader Paul Steele, Chair: Policy and Resources Committee, said:
“It was great to see Lord Offord visit such a range of projects during his recent visit to the Western Isles. From the services provided by the employability hub, Government funding is being used to provide real opportunities.
“While government funded projects are providing good outcomes it is important to note the challenges currently facing the Western Isles. To support economic growth and encourage people to live in the Western Isles we must see targeted Government support and protection from future service and infrastructure cuts. I hope that the conversations had during this visit have outlined the future needs of the islands and will lead to a real impact on future funding decisions.”