Half a million pounds could be set aside to boost employment opportunities in County Durham.
Councillors will be asked next week to assign the cash to projects that will help young people into work and support others wishing to start their own business.
Members of Durham County Council’s Cabinet will also discuss allocating an additional £10,000 to each of the county’s 14 Area Action Partnership (AAP) to continue supporting local schemes which assist people affected by changes to the welfare system.
All of the proposals are part of the council’s wide-ranging efforts to deal with the impact of welfare reform on the people of County Durham. The funding would come from cash provided by the Government for welfare assistance.
Cllr Simon Henig, Leader of Durham County Council, said: “It is still too early to fully understand the impact of welfare changes in County Durham but we continue to monitor how residents are affected and how we can best support them.
“While we are able to offer direct financial assistance in some cases, we have also been able to support people in a number of other ways through our AAPs and by working in partnership with other organisations.
“By helping people find practical and longer-term solutions in response to welfare changes, we aim to limit the need for short-term, emergency support.
“We also want to support existing support schemes as well as initiatives that fit with the ultimate aim of welfare reform of encouraging people into employment.”
It is estimated that about 95,000 households in County Durham will be affected by welfare changes.
The council is involved in a number of schemes to cut home energy costs, is working with housing providers to help people access debt advice and other services and is actively promoting and supporting voluntary schemes such as credit unions and food banks
The county’s AAPs have also initiated new projects during 2013 in response to welfare reform, including a pilot project to boost learning and skills in East Durham, budgeting and money management short courses and the creation of Welfare Champions who can offer advice and support on benefit changes.
As part of the proposals, to be discussed by Cabinet on Wednesday, 12 February, the council also wants to set aside additional cash to continue supporting people affected by welfare changes over the next couple of years.