Can You Use the KickStart Scheme?

The Kickstart Scheme was announced in July 2020 and is aimed at creating new high-quality jobs to help 16-24-year-old unemployed people on Universal Credit. The aim is to provide opportunities for young people to enter the workplace, especially as many of those in this age bracket may have lost their jobs as a result of the 2020 coronavirus pandemic.

The scheme is being run across several industries in England, Scotland and Wales and is open to all employers who meet the minimum requirements for offering the scheme. This scheme will cover participants’ expenses for six months if employers take them on into new roles.

The scheme will be delivered by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) and will be open until December 2021 – with the option of it being extended. It consists of a young person being taken on and asked to work a minimum of 25 hours work per week, being paid the National Minimum Wage (NMW), at the least, and provided key training in skills that will help them to progress in their career. In addition:

  • The Government covers 100% of relevant NMW for 25 hours per week, as well as National Insurance contributions and employer minimum auto-enrolment pension contributions
  • Employers are free to top up this payment if they wish
  • The Government will also pay employers £1,500 towards set up support and training for those on the Kickstart placement
  • This payment can also be used to pay for uniforms and other costs necessary
  • Employers who take part in this scheme are permitted to hire a second Kickstart participant into the same role after the first participant has completed their six months placement.

Whilst the Kickstart Scheme is not an apprenticeship, the Government has expressed that participants can move on to become apprentices at any time during or after their Kickstart placement.

The first placements are likely to be available from November 2020 and employer applications for the scheme are now open. The assessment criteria being used to determine if your application for a grant under the scheme has been successful applies to the whole of the UK.

The minimum eligibility requirements for you to be considered for the scheme are as follows:

  • applications should be for at least 30 vacancies which should be new and not a replacement of an existing job, or cause current staff to have a reduced workload
  • you must be prepared to offer at least 25 hours a week to participants, for at least six months, who are paid at the appropriate national minimum wage for their age group
  • you must demonstrate at application stage what employability support you will provide to participants to give them the transferable skills needed to continue into gainful employment, training or education, such as teamwork, organisational or communication skills
  • you must also demonstrate that the jobs you are offering are quality placements – meaningful and suitable – that will benefit the participant in future
  • you must show how you plan to monitor the progress of participants to the satisfaction of the compliance and quality requirements for the scheme – covering participants’ safety, employer liability insurance, risk assessments for the vulnerable, and Disclosure and Barring Services for 16/17 year olds
  • you must also show how publicity activities, such as branding, will comply with the DWP publicity requirements.

As an eligible employer you should be able to demonstrate how you will help your new employees to develop their skills and experience in areas such as:

  • support to look for long-term work, including career advice and setting goals
  • support with CV and interview preparations
  • supporting the participant with basic skills, such as attendance, timekeeping and teamwork.

If you are unable to achieve the 30 job placements minimum criteria, particularly smaller businesses who only want to offer one or two placements, you can partner with other organisations to reach the minimum placement requirement. If you fall into this category, you will be asked to make an offer for 30 or more placements as a combined bid from several businesses (similar employers, Local authorities, trade bodies, or registered charities) through an intermediary such as a Local Authority or Chamber of Commerce.

Applications can be submitted via the government website and details of the scheme can be found here. If you need help with your application, or thinking about roles that you can create within your business, please do call me on 0118 940 3032 or click here to email me.