A scheme designed to boost innovation by tapping into the creative talents of jobseekers has resulted in 6,830 businesses being established in the south east.
The New Enterprise Allowance (NEA) was established five years ago by the Jobcentre, and provides jobseekers who want to start their own firm with access to Government funding and ongoing expertise from dedicated mentors.
As a result, new ventures have been launched across a wide range of industries and sectors, including manufacturing, design, fashion and leisure, by people of all ages.
Figures revealed almost two thirds of those participating in the scheme are male, while just under 70 per cent are aged 25 to 49, with 21 per cent classed as disabled.
The high level of start-ups comes at a time when figures also show the number of workless households at a record low in the region.
Households in which no one works have dropped to 323,000 – down by 17,000 in the past year, and by 66,000 since 2010.
The Employment Minister, Damian Hinds, said: “We are determined to create a society for everybody, not just the privileged few, and I’m delighted that so many people across the south east have seized the opportunity to be their own boss.”