A JOB-BOOSTING scheme launched across Taunton Deane has brought 66 jobs to the area.

Under the initiative, companies bringing ten jobs or more to the district will receive £1,000 per job, up to a maximum of 100 jobs - a payment of £100,000.

Taunton Deane Council set aside £300,000 for the scheme, but only around one-fifth of that fund has been capitalised on by employers.

Ministry of Cake in Taunton took on 40 people and Rigid Containers in Wellington bolstered their ranks by 26 people.

When the County Gazette ran the story 12 months ago, council bosses hoped the scheme would help contribute to a job creation target of 11,900 over the next 15 years.

Despite a small number of applicants so far, the scheme is still open and MP Jeremy Browne said he hoped other businesses will take advantage of the scheme.

He said: “It is good to have imaginative new ideas for helping to create local jobs so it is disappointing that this initiative has fallen short of what was expected.

“Overall employment has fallen so some employers may feel that they can get ahead without the help of this scheme.

“Businesses in Taunton Deane who are interested should contact the council but otherwise the money can be clawed back to help the overall finances at a time when money is already tight.”

The scheme did come under fire from the TaxPayers' Alliance who said handing out grants to businesses who make the right applications and 'jump through the right hoops' isn't the best way to create a strong economy and opportunities for residents.

But Ministry of Cake managing director Chris Ormrod said the application process was easy to understand and unusually quick to sort out.

He added: “We used the grant on detailed training and integration programmes for our new starters and they have certainly started well as our sales over the Christmas period were 30% ahead of last year.

“At all stages throughout the process, Taunton Deane Council was outstanding to work with and I'd regard them as one of the most business-friendly local councils that I have encountered." Cllr Norman Cavill, who holds the economic development portfolio, said they still are in talks with other companies.

He added: “This initiative has been well received and created a good deal of interest.”

Employers interested in joining the scheme should contact Hattie Winter in the council's economic development team.