Rishi Sunak announced the Kickstart scheme as part of his Plan for Jobs in July. The £2 billion scheme aims to create hundreds of thousands of high quality six month work placements for young people who are most at risk of long term unemployment. Yesterday the government announced further details. Although most welcome the scheme, and there is a direct application process for those offering a minimum of 30 placements, there was concern that it was not clear how smaller employers could take part.

In response to these concerns the government’s guidance was updated to include Kickstart scheme employer contacts. Employers are now asked to email specific information to a dedicated Kickstart DWP contact and can expect to be contacted within 2 working days.

Here is a summary of the scheme to date, its eligibility criteria and what employers who choose to take part can expect to happen once they have applied:

The Kickstart scheme

The scheme aims to:

  • Create new 6-month job placements for young people aged 16 – 24, who are currently on Universal Credit and at risk of long-term unemployment
  • Develop skills and experience to help young people find work after completing the scheme
  • Provide funding for placements of 100% of relevant National Minimum Wage for 25 hours a week, plus associated employer National Insurance Contributions and employer minimum automatic enrolment contributions. There is also a £1,500 per job placement available for set up costs, support and training. Funding is available following a successful application process. Direct applications have to be for a minimum of 30 placements. You can partner with other organisations to reach the minimum number and if you are the group representative, you can get £300 of funding support to help with costs of administering your group of employers. The group representative will check that job placements are eligible for Kickstart and submit an application for funding on the groups behalf. To find a group, contact your local or national Kickstart Scheme employer contact.

Kickstart eligibility criteria

For a job placement to be eligible for funding under the Kickstart scheme it must:

  • Be a new job, not replacing an existing or planned vacancy
  • Not cause existing employees or contractors to lose or reduce their employment

Each role must

  • Be for a minimum of 25 hours per week for 6 months
  • Be paid at least National Minimum Wage for their age group
  • Not require extensive training before placement begins
  • Develop skills and experience to support
    • Looking for long term work, including providing career advice & goal setting
    • Help with CV and interview preparations
    • Encourage basic skills such as attendance, timekeeping and teamwork

What next?

If an employers application to take part in the scheme is successful, employers should be notified within 1 month, receiving a letter with a grant agreement. Once signed, the employer will then provide job descriptions and details of their own application process to the DWP. Candidates will be matched to the placement and will contact the employer. Employers recruit a candidate into the placement, but will only get the funding if they appoint a young person that is introduced via the scheme.

The Department for Work and Pensions will check HMRC information to confirm that the young person is on the employer’s payroll and is being paid through PAYE and the DWP will pay the grant in arrears.

Having considered the Kickstart details, Wayne Thomas, partner at Bates Weston comments:

“The principal here is admirable. Seeking to help young people get into work. What is unclear to date, is how SMEs are able to access the scheme. At the moment direct applications for funding can only be made if the employer is offering a minimum of 30 placements. Smaller employers are able to band together and submit a group application, but there is scant detail so far on which trade organisations or charities may be offering to step into the group organiser role.

In a change from yesterday when SMEs were being asked to contact their local Jobcentre Employer Partnership Team, employers are now being directed to dedicated Kickstart employer contacts at the DWP. The East and Central Midlands contact is eastmidlands.kickstart@dwp.gov.uk. We hope that the communication issues can be resolved so that the SME community can play its part.”

For more details of the scheme please check the government guidance.

Update 9 September 2020

East Midlands Chamber  is acting as a registered intermediary for businesses who wish to participate in the Kickstart Scheme. Please register your interest here.