The Kickstart Scheme: a cheatsheet for employers

  • Recruitment
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Peninsula Group, HR and Health & Safety Experts

(Last updated )

Read how you can add a raft of talented young people to your workforce—without paying a penny towards their wages!

The government’s new ‘Kickstart Scheme’, which rewards employers who create job placements for 16 to 24-year-olds, is now open.

And as a result, thousands of UK business owners are rushing to apply.

Here’s how you can add a raft of talented young people to your workforce—without paying a penny towards their wages.

Firstly, what is the Kickstart Scheme?

It’s a £2 billion investment to help 16 to 24-year-olds on Universal Credit find work in a tough post-lockdown jobs market.

The idea is that the scheme will allow young people to build their skills in a real workplace. Once their placement is over, they’ll have a better chance of finding long-term work thanks to their new-found job experience. 

Ministers now want business owners to create six-month work placements to populate the scheme.

For employers who take part, the government will pay 100% of the placement workers’ wages (to the national minimum rate), plus National Insurance and pension contributions, for 25 hours a week.

Employers can also claim £1,500 for training and support, plus uniform and other setup costs.

It all sounds great so far. But there are a few catches you need to be aware of…

Who can apply?

Firstly, any employer can get involved, regardless of your business’s size. But your placements must:

  • Last a minimum of 25 hours a week, for six months
  • Be paid at least the National Minimum Wage for the workers’ age
  • Not require lengthy training before the worker can start

The roles you create need to be new and cannot replace existing or planned vacancies. They mustn’t cause your current workers to lose their job or get fewer hours, either.

Unfortunately, if you’re creating fewer than 30 placements then you can’t apply directly to the government for the funding. You need to partner with other organisations to create a combined total of 30 roles before applying.

You could partner with:

  • Similar employers
  • Local authorities
  • Trade bodies
  • Registered charities

You can contact your region’s Department for Work and Pensions office for help finding firms to team up with.

When you’ve found your partners, you’ll then need to choose a representative to apply for the grants.

How can my representative access the funding?

Once your representative has grouped at least 30 roles, they can apply to the Kickstart Scheme on your behalf.

The application needs to include basic information about your business and the new job roles. You should show that your company is in a good financial position and that the jobs you’re creating are quality placements.

You must also mention how you’ll help develop your placement workers’ careers, like:

  • Teaching them key skills such as attendance, timekeeping and teamwork
  • Improving their CV and training them for job interviews
  • Supporting them in their search for long-term work

Government officers will then review the application to make sure it meets the rules of the Kickstart Scheme. After that, it’ll go to a panel for approval.

You should hear a decision around one month after you applied.

How can I make sure I secure the funding?

The government has said that the Kickstart Scheme is not a competitive process, and applications will be accepted if they meet the criteria.

But employers who get their claims wrong risk lengthy delays—or even rejection from the scheme.

So, before you begin your application, make sure you speak to an HR adviser at Peninsula.

Our clients get expert advice on how to submit a powerful Kickstart Scheme application.

And even if you’re not a Peninsula client, you can still claim a free advice call to give yourself the best chance of securing fully-funded placements.

Speak to an HR expert now on 0800 028 2420.


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