A new scheme to give budding market stall traders who are unemployed a chance to start their own business has been launched in Harrow.

The Xcite Markets initiative, launched by Harrow Council, gives anyone in the borough who has been unemployed for less than six months and receiving Jobseeker’s Allowance, lone parents and those on income support the support to test their idea.

The programme gives the would-be traders access to markets to try and sell them, with start-up support, expert advice and financial planning guidance also available.

The idea behind the scheme is that it could move people from Jobseeker’s Allowance to the New Enterprise Allowance, launched by the Government last year to give start-up funding for viable business plans submitted by unemployed people.

The council has assured those who want to participate that they can remain on benefits while taking part in the Xcite Markets scheme and will not lose their Jobseeker’s Allowance if their plan is not successful.

Portfolio holder for economic development, Councillor Keith Ferry said the idea was a way to “open up new opportunities” for those looking to get back into work.

He added: “With high unemployment rates and the country still in recession, things are tough.

“This Xcite programme is a great initiative to help those who have been out of work and want to get back on their feet.”

For more information, call Victoria Isaacs on 0208 736 6538 or click here .