An initiative which has aided 500 families in North of Tyne to recover more than £1m in unclaimed benefits has been granted permission to continue by the North of Tyne Combined Authority.

An almost £2.5m budget has been approved, allowing the scheme to push forward with its poverty prevention and educational improvement programmes in partnership with employers and schools.

This extension ensures continued support for 281 schools while the North of Tyne Combined Authority transitions to a new organisation this May.

Since the programme began in 2022, 500 families have benefited, with one securing £11,000 in back payments for their disabled child.

Jamie Driscoll, North of Tyne Mayor, said: “We’ve invested £4.3m so far on tackling child poverty and improving education in the North of Tyne and we are the only Combined Authority in the country to do this. Why?

“Because the good jobs of tomorrow are not going to be taken up by kids who are too hungry to learn today. We cannot afford to leave people behind. "

Councillor Karen Kilgour, North of Tyne Combined Authority Lead for Education, Inclusion and Skills, said: "Extending the programme today is the right thing to do and will help us continue to work with our partners to tackle an issue felt by so many families in our region."