The government has announced Kickstart changes – we take a look at the scheme changes and the impact for SMEs.

From 3 February 2021, employers who want to offer any number of job placements can apply directly to the Department for Work and Pensions.

Previously, only employers offering 30 or more job placements could apply directly – those offering fewer placements had to partner with other organisations and apply through a group representative, known as a Kickstart Gateway.

This change means existing Kickstart Gateways will continue, and SME’s can continue to apply through them but SMEs can also take part in the scheme will by applying directly to the DWP from 3 February.

Wayne Thomas, partner at Bates Weston comments:

“This is good news for SMEs. We were concerned at the outset of this scheme last September, that SMEs would find it more difficult to access the scheme. According to a recent government report, SMEs account for 99% of all UK businesses and employ over 16.6million people, so any changes that make it easier for them to participate in a youth employment scheme has to be a positive step.”

As a reminder, the Kickstart scheme provides funding to create new job placements for 16-24 year olds on Universal credit who are at risk of long term unemployment. Employers of all sizes can apply for funding which covers:-

Employers can pay higher wages and for more hours but the funding will not cover this. Employers can spread the start date of the job placements up until the end of December 2021.

As the Kickstart scheme is primarily aimed at developing the skills and experience of young people, helping them to find work after completing the scheme, there is £1,500 per job placement available to the employer for set up costs, support and training.

To date the scheme has created more than 120,000 placements. For more details of the scheme, the criteria for a qualifying placement and how to apply, please see the latest government guidance.