Updated Kickstart Scheme – everything you need to know

The government’s £2 billion Kickstart Scheme has been in place since September 2020.  The government’s aim is for the Scheme to support young people to develop new skills, which will help them move into sustained employment after they have completed their job placement.  Thousands of jobs have already been created under the Scheme.

In this article, our Employment Law experts explore what employers need to know about the Kickstart Scheme and how to apply.

What is the Kickstart Scheme?

The Scheme is aimed at helping unemployed young people get a foothold on the career ladder by funding six-month job placements for 16–24-year-olds.

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

The Scheme is available in England, Scotland, and Wales, and referrals to the Scheme will run until December 2021.

What funding is available?

Funding will cover 100% of the relevant National Minimum Wage/National Living 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 setup costs and the costs of training and support, but this 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, apprentices or contractors to lose or reduce their working hours”.
  • 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/National Living Wage for their age group.
  • The placement must only require basic training.
  • Placements can start up until 31 December 2021 and the employer will get funding until 30 June 2022, if a young person starts their job on 31 December 2021.

Who can apply?

When the Scheme was launched, employer’s direct applications had to be for a minimum of 30 job placements. Whilst an employer could choose to partner with other organisations, this did create barriers for a lot of small to medium businesses.

However, there is no longer a minimum number of placements required for the employer to make a direct online application to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) under the Scheme.

What is a Kickstart gateway?

As well as accessing directly, an employer can choose to access the Scheme through a Kickstart gateway. These help an employer get a Kickstart Scheme grant and may also offer employability support to the young person on the Scheme.

A Kickstart gateway will already have (or will be waiting on) a Scheme grant agreement. It can then add more employers and job placements to this grant agreement. The Scheme wages and costs are paid to the gateway, for it to pass on to the employer.

Kickstart gateways can be any type of organisation. The DWP has performed due diligence checks on these organisations. Employers can find a Kickstart gateway here.

How to apply

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. This could include support: “looking for long-term work, including career advice and setting goals, support with CV and interview preparations, developing their skills in the workplace”
  • Supporting information to show the Scheme criteria are met (hours, pay etc)
  • Information about the employer, including how many employees they have, and any recent redundancies and recruitment

A panel will consider applications to ensure they meet the Scheme criteria, and the government aims to give an outcome within one 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 by JobCentre Plus. It would then interview these referred candidates and decide who to employ.

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.

Tips on applying under the Scheme

  • The guidance states that checks are made to ensure the employer is “established, reputable and financially solvent”. These checks will include considerations of whether the business has existed for a while; whether it has regularly submitted accounts; and whether it has enough liquid assets to cover its debts.
  • You will want to show how the placement will give a meaningful experience of work, for example setting out clear duties, responsibilities and goals or showing how the person will be part of a team, from which they can learn.
  • You must confirm that the job placement is a new, additional role.
  • You should set out how the job placement will increase the young person’s chances of finding work after the placement, including detailing the real workplace skills and tasks you intend to teach.

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.

The 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, the DWP may contact the employer or employee to check the support they’re receiving to make sure 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 two working days.

How Citation can help

If you would like the guidance of our HR and Employment Law team about making the best use of the Kickstart Scheme in your business, just call our advice line on 0345 844 4848

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