Young people to benefit from £17m seized from criminals

Michael Matheson

Groups helping some of Scotland’s most disadvantaged young people are to receive funding support of £17 million seized from criminals.

A total of 17 organisations have been awarded the money, seized from criminals operating in Scotland, in the latest round of “CashBack” funding.

The successful projects will provide opportunities in employability, sport, creativity and diversionary youth work to help raise the attainment, aspirations and ambition of disadvantaged young people across Scotland.

Justice Secretary Michael Matheson made the funding announcement at a visit to the National Autistic Society Scotland. The charity, which will use the money to support young people with autism into employment, recently revealed that less than 16 per cent of autistic people are in full-time paid work.

Mr Matheson said: “With this money we are supporting Scotland’s most disadvantaged young people to reach their full potential in life, helping them to learn new skills, boost their confidence and become responsible people.

“We have already supported thousands of young people through our CashBack initiative with £75 million committed and nearly two million activities and opportunities offered since 2008. With this latest funding we demonstrate our commitment to tackle inequality and keep young people active in their communities.

“Through CashBack we are punishing those who break the law and directing their ill-gotten gains directly back into Scotland’s communites.

“A total of 17 groups across Scotland will benefit from this money, providing support and training which could change lives.”

Director of the National Autistic Society Scotland, Jenny Paterson, said: “A significant autism employment gap exists in our society. Just 32 per cent of autistic people are in employment - compared to 47 per cent of disabled people and 80 per cent of non-disabled people.

“Cashback for Communities will play a vital role in closing this gap by funding our employment support service in Scotland, which helps autistic people to prepare for work and employers to understand the condition.

“The benefits of the funding will be felt right across Scotland: autistic people will increase in independence and confidence, employers will gain their skills and commitment, and taxpayers will save on out-of-work benefit payments.”