Government releases details of new Kickstart scheme

On Wednesday 2 September, the government finally published details of the Kickstart scheme announced by the Chancellor earlier in the summer. In this article, we explore the details of the scheme and cover all the important points that employers need to know ahead of the scheme’s launch.

What is the scheme?

The scheme is aimed at helping unemployed young people get a foothold on the career ladder by funding six-month job placements.

Under the scheme, the government will directly pay employers to create these placements.

The scheme is available in England, Scotland, and Wales.

What funding is available?

Funding will cover 100% of the relevant National Minimum Wage for 25 hours a week, plus associated employer National Insurance contributions and employer minimum automatic enrolment contributions.

There is also funding available of £1,500 per job placement to cover the initial set up costs and the costs of training and support.

Funding is only available where an employer has made a successful application to the scheme.

Eligibility requirements

  • The worker must be aged between 16 and 24 years old and must be currently in receipt of Universal Credit.
  • The job must be for six months.
  • The employer must be able to show that it is a new job, additional to existing roles within the business. The guidance says the placement must not “replace existing or planned vacancies or cause existing employees or contractors to lose or reduce their employment”.
  • It should support the worker in acquiring the skills and experience they will need to find work after the placement comes to an end.
  • It must be for at least 25 hours per week and must pay at least the National Minimum Wage for their age group.
  • It must not require the worker to undertake extensive training before starting the placement.

Who can apply?

One of the surprising elements of the scheme is that applications must be for a minimum of 30 job placements. While this would seem to put it beyond the scope of most small to medium businesses, the guidance says that if you can’t offer this many placements, you can partner with other organisations to reach the minimum number.

Partnering with other organisations and applying through a representative

You can do this either through:

  • a group of employers nominating a representative to submit applications for the group or
  • registering your interest with existing representatives such as trade bodies, chambers of commerce etc

Currently applications are only being accepted from representatives who have:
  • experience of managing partnership agreements with third parties
  • robust financial and governance processes to manage the application

As part of the application process, the DWP will assess the suitability of the representative.

The guidance states that further information will be provided at a later date on how groups who do not have the experience referred to above can become representatives.

Representatives can get £300 of funding to help with the admin costs of bringing together the applications of several employers.

How to apply

If an employer is creating at least 30 placements, they can apply online directly.

If they are creating less than 30 placements, they will need to apply through a representative of a group of employers who together are creating a minimum of 30 placements.

The application must include the following:

  • Companies House reference number or Charity Commission number
  • The employer’s address and contact details
  • Details of the placements and their location
  • Information on the support they can give to help participants develop their skills and experience, including: “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”
  • Supporting information to show the scheme criteria are met (hours, pay etc).

A panel will consider applications to ensure they meet the scheme criteria and the government aims to give an outcome within 1 month of application.

If the application is successful, the employer will receive a letter enclosing a grant agreement which confirms how much funding they will receive under the scheme and setting out what the employer has agreed to provide. The employer must sign this agreement and return it before any placements can begin. The employer must provide job descriptions for each of the placements including how candidates should apply. The employer will then be contacted directly by candidates who have been matched to the placement. Although it’s up to employers who they employ, Funding will only be received if it’s a candidate who’s been introduced to the business by the Department of Work and Pensions.

There is no appeal process if the application is unsuccessful, but employers can submit a new application with additional information and there is no limit on the number of times you can make an application.

How is funding paid?

The set-up costs will be paid when an employer has confirmed that the person has started work, is enrolled on their payroll and is being paid through PAYE. DWP will pay the grant in arrears, using information from HMRC to check that the person is still employed.

How will the scheme be monitored?

During the placement, DWP may contact the employer or employee to check the support they’re receiving to ensure the employee is getting the best experience from the scheme.

Can you take on successive workers for the same role?

Yes, the guidance makes it clear that once a placement has been created and a first successful applicant has completed the six-month term, the employer can take on a second worker on the placement.

How to get more help with the scheme

Employers can get additional help by contacting either their local employer contact or the national employer contact if the business is located across several regions.

The guidance states a reply should be received within 2 days.

Citation’s help is only a phone call away

If you’ve got any questions on how the Kickstart scheme works – or how you can make it work for your business – our HR and Employment Law team are only ever at the end of the phone. Just give our 24/7 advice line a call on 0345 844 4848.

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