Small Business Minister Nigel Griffiths today launched new funding for two projects designed to encourage enterprise and employment amongst offenders and ex-offenders.

Small Business Minister Nigel Griffiths today launched new funding for two projects designed to encourage enterprise and employment amongst offenders and ex-offenders.

 

The £1.8 million boost from the DTI's Small Business Service (SBS) is part of a cross-government effort to bridge the gap between prison life and a positive life on the outside. The two projects are designed to give offenders and recently released ex-offenders the opportunity to support themselves by developing enterprise skills and setting themselves up in business.

 

Today's initiative builds on a joint statement launched this week at Askham Grange Prison by Home Office Minister Paul Goggins on behalf of four Whitehall departments. The statement outlines the Government's commitment to reducing re-offending by giving more offenders a second chance through self-employment.

 

The SBS has approved two projects for Phoenix Fund support, designed to support enterprise in disadvantaged and under-represented communities.

 

Business in Prisons, a project within the women's estate of 18 prisons and a further 17 male prisons, run by the Dukeries Training Agency.

 

In Credit, a Stevenage-based initiative to establish a network for women recently released from prison and wanting to set up their own enterprises.

 

Announcing the funding, Nigel Griffiths said: "The costs of re-offending to society and to victims are enormous. For a significant number of offenders and ex-offenders, self employment is the best way out of the cycle of re-offending. That's why I'm glad that the SBS is backing projects like 'Business in Prisons' and 'incredit'."

 

"Recent research shows that being in employment reduces the risk of re-offending by between a third and a half. I'm determined to see Government support helping prisoners develop the basic skills they need. By giving them sound support and advice to build on their own imaginative ideas we can benefit offenders, their communities, victims and society."

 

The SBS has also today published a new booklet, 'Unlocking Potential' (PDF file 1.92 MB), which highlights the current provision for enterprise available in a number of prisons. Available online at: http://www.sbs.gov.uk/phoenix/servingandex-offenders.php the publication highlights the different approaches that prisons and their governors have taken to enable offenders to develop the business skills needed to become self-employed. The case studies include projects from all over the country and will act as a source of information and reference for policy-makers as well as for prisoners and staff involved in enterprise activity.

 

The booklet is one part of a co-ordinated approach across several government departments to give more offenders a second chance. Working together with a number of stakeholders, the SBS, National Offender Management Service as well as Home Office, DWP and DfES, are looking to address key areas such as the quality of available provision in prisons and the links between prison, external employment and business support. They'll also look at the issue of access to finance for ex-offenders looking to start up in business.

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