Rishi Sunak presented his Plan for Jobs on 8 July 2020. The Kickstart Scheme forms part of that plan in a move to create hundreds of thousands of new, fully subsidised jobs for young people across in England, Scotland and Wales, but only if certain eligibility criteria are met.
What is the scheme?
The Kickstart Scheme is available to employers to fund the creation of new 6-month job placements for young people (aged 16-24-years-old) who are currently on universal credit and at risk of long-term unemployment. The placement must be for a minimum of 25 hours a week paid at least at the applicable national minimum wage level. The placements are not apprenticeships but like apprenticeships support those participants to develop their skills and experience to help them find work after the placement has ended.
Funding is available to any and all employers to cover 100% of the relevant national minimum wage for 25 hours per week, plus National Insurance contributions and employer minimum automatic enrolment contributions. In addition, £1,500 per job placement will be available for setup costs, support and training.
Who is eligible for the scheme?
The scheme is open to any organisation, no matter what the size. However, in order to qualify for funding, an employer must be able to provide a minimum of 30 job placements or, if they are unable to accommodate that number of placements, partner with another organisation to provide the minimum number together. Representatives applying on behalf of a group of employers can obtain £300 of funding towards administrative costs of bringing those partnered employers together.
The minimum requirements to apply for funding are:
- job placements must be new jobs and must not be in replacement of existing vacancies or self-employed contractors; and
- roles must be for a minimum of 25 hours per week for six months, paying at least the relevant National Minimum Wage and should not require people to undertake extensive training before beginning.
Employers must commit to develop the skills and experience of each applicant which should include:
- supporting them to look for long-term work;
- supporting them with CV and interview preparation; and
- supporting them with basic skills such as attendance, timekeeping and teamwork.
Once a job placement is created, it can be taken up by a second applicant after the first has completed their six-month period.
The application process
A group of employers can band together to offer the required minimum of 30 job placements. In order to apply for the scheme, the group must nominate a representative to submit the application. The representative will also check that the job placements are eligible for the Scheme.
Representatives must have sufficient experience in managing partnership agreements as well as financial and government processes for the application to be considered. For assistance in sourcing a suitable representative, employers can get in touch with one of the local or national contacts listed here.
The scheme is now live and applications for groups and individual organisations can be done online via the gov.uk website. Employers will also need to provide job descriptions for each of the placements.
Applications will be considered by a panel who will only agree to provide the funding if the job placements meet the eligibility criteria. The current aim is to respond to applications within one month of submission and successful employers will receive a grant agreement detailing how much funding will be provided which they will need to sign and return before the placement can begin.
There is no appeal process for unsuccessful applications, however, there is no limit to the number of applications that an employer can make, and so employers will have the opportunity to tweak the proposed job placements as needed.
Candidates will be matched to the respective job placement through a central system accessed via Jobcentre Plus. Those candidates will then get in touch with the employer directly in order to apply and the employer can interview for the most suitable candidates and choose which one(s) to employ.
All grants will be paid in arrears once the DWP have verified that the young person is employed and is being paid through PAYE. The first placements under the scheme are likely to be available from November 2020 and the scheme will initially run until December 2021 with the potential for an extension if the scheme proves effective.
Points to consider
Employers should be aware that funding will only be available for candidates that are introduced to the employer through the scheme. Direct applications are not expressly prohibited but will not be considered part of the scheme and therefore will not be eligible for funding.
Future auditing has not been mentioned in the guidance provided to date and is unlikely to expose the similar fraud issues associated with the Job Retention Scheme, however, DWP may contact either the young person or the employer to check that employability support has been offered during the placement. Employers should therefore ensure that they have the resource to offer such support and that those providing it are suitably qualified to do so.