PROJECTS to boost tourism and youth employment were backed by the Isle of Wight Council’s cabinet last night (Tuesday).
It approved £400,000 of investment in schemes to support the Island economy, using savings of some £2.3m from the 2011/12 financial year.
Subject to full council approval next Wednesday, £300,000 will be used to extend apprenticeship schemes for young people and mentor those looking to start their own businesses, while £100,000 will be spent on marketing the Island as a holiday destination.
As previously reported, other projects include a jobs fair and Celebrate the Isle of Wight event, run in partnership with the County Show, to promote local produce.
A proposal to invest some cash in building beach huts has been scrapped, however after it was found it was unpopular in a consultation. The council now plans to lease land at seaside resorts for other parties to build beach huts instead.
Council leader Cllr David Pugh said the authority was in a strong and healthy financial position following its implementation of strict budget controls, as evidenced by the £2.3m underspend, which enabled investment in one-off economic initiatives.
The savings, however, have come at a price, including cuts to public services and job losses.
The majority of the savings — some 76 per cent in 2011/12 and 90 per cent in 2012/13 — have come from administration efficiencies, including the reduction of senior management jobs by 38 posts, an ongoing saving of some £2.3m.
In total, there have been 530 posts cut across the authority.
Despite its strong financial position, the council faced further funding reductions in the coming years and further savings would need to be made, warned Cllr Pugh.