Government Launches ‘Kickstart’ Scheme in England, Wales and Scotland
23rd September, 2020
As part of the Chancellor’s ‘Plan for Jobs’ a new scheme has been launched which aims to give unemployed young people aged 16 – 24 who are in receipt of Universal Credit an opportunity to gain work skills and experience.
The ‘Kickstart’ scheme is to operate in England, Wales and Scotland until December 2021 initially, with an option to extend.
Kickstart will enable employers to take on a young person for a 6-month work placement, with 25 hours of that working week funded by the Department for Work and Pensions. 100% of the National Minimum Wage, National Insurance and pension contributions for each person employed under the scheme will be funded by the DWP. Employers will also have the option to ‘top up’ the participants’ wage.
An additional £1,500 per job placement will be available to employers taking part in the scheme to cover set up and training costs for young people employed through Kickstart.
Applications may be made through the Gov.uk webpage. To be eligible to apply directly to the scheme, the employer must be offering a minimum of 30 placements. Smaller businesses can partner with other employers in order to submit a joint application and meet the minimum number of placements. Representatives acting on behalf of a number of employers with such a joint application can receive £300 towards administrative costs for each job placement. Employer contacts have been appointed to provide advice and guidance on a national and regional basis in England, Wales, and Scotland.
Employers will be required to ensure that the vacancies on offer for a Kickstart placement meet the criteria set by the Government:
- The job placements must be new jobs and should not replace existing or planned vacancies or cause existing employees to lose their employment.
- The roles must offer a minimum of 25 hours of work per week for at least 6 months.
- Employees must be paid at least the National Minimum Wage.
- Employers should be able to demonstrate within their applications how they will help develop the participants’ skills and experience, for example, assisting them with basic job skills or supporting them in finding long term work.
Applications will be reviewed and responded to within one month. Successful applicant employers will receive a letter containing a grant agreement which sets out the amount of funding they will receive through the Kickstart scheme. That grant agreement must be returned by the employer before any work placements begin. Grants will be paid in arrears to the employer after the commencement of the work placements.
Placements will be open to unemployed young people aged 16-24 who are currently receiving Universal Credit. The roles will be offered to those young people through their Jobcentre Plus Work Coach. Only applicants referred by the DWP may be employed to take a Kickstart-funded role. Employers may interview and choose the most suitable candidates for each role on offer.
Throughout the work placement, the DWP will monitor the details held by HMRC to ensure that the participant remains in employment. They may also contact the employer and participant to review how the placement is progressing. At the conclusion of the six-month placement, it is open to the employer to offer the same role to a new Kickstart participant.
The scheme officially launched on 2 September 2020 and the first Kickstart placements are expected to begin in November 2020. A number of large companies have pledged to take part in the scheme.
Employers who elect to offer such placements should follow appropriate recruitment practices and ensure that appropriate contracts are entered into to cover the placement period.
Kickstart placements are not an apprenticeship, but young people on a placement funded via the scheme can start an apprenticeship at any time during, or at the conclusion, of their Kickstart job placement.
Given that this scheme is not designed to replace existing roles (and this is a criteria set out by Government) and bearing in mind an employer’s obligations under the Equality Act 2010, care should be taken in planning workforce restructuring and recruitment programmes to avoid inadvertent age discriminatory practices. Where such an impact cannot be avoided, employers should consider obtaining advice as to whether such a programme can meet the justification defence, being a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.
Further information about the Kickstart scheme, including details of how to sign up as an employer, can be found on the gov.uk webpage.
If you require any advice relating to the recruitment of new members of staff or any other Employment related issues then please contact Claire Brook.
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