HIGHLAND Council is to relaunch its deprived area fund to help create employment and tackle poverty across the region.
A total of £440,000 in funding is to be made available each year for the next three years to allow the new area committees to play a key role in determining how the money is spent locally.
The city of Inverness area committee will receive £160,000, Caithness and Sutherland £100,000, Skye, Ross and Cromarty £130,000, Lochaber £30,000, and Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey £20,000 each year.
Councillor Thomas Prag, chairman of the council’s Planning, Environment and Development Committee, said: “We have put considerable financial resources and effort into the Deprived Area Fund Programme over the last 3 years and the various successes are down to the huge engagement and voluntary efforts of hundreds of people and agencies that are working together to develop better communities.
“We want to keep this momentum of energy and commitment going so we have taken the opportunity to review and plan for the future.”
He continued: “Devolving the decision making to Area Committees and the revised criteria will increase flexibility and allow the focus to be clearly on making long term progress in deprived areas and aligning our work to complement the other initiatives that are running.
“As well as creating as wide a geographical benefit as possible, the fund will give Area Committees the opportunity to determine the best use of how money is spent taking into account local issues. Tapping into this knowledge of local need will make sure the allotted money has the most impact and acts as a catalyst for social and economic change.”
Councillor Prag added: “It is all about helping people make a difference to their lives by creating real job opportunities with prospects for the future. The aim is also to give communities support to develop and implement activities that can improve the quality of life and boost regeneration for many years to come.”