01 March 2021

The CIPP policy and research team provide an update on this initiative to assist young people into work

Within the ‘Plan for Jobs’ (http://ow.ly/YKHx30ruFRU), unveiled by the chancellor of the Exchequer on 8 July 2020, a key measure was the Kickstart Scheme.

Research has highlighted the fact that younger people have been one of the groups most significantly impacted by the outbreak of coronavirus, in terms of employment. So, it was decided that this new scheme would help in beginning to tackle the problem.

Eligibility, and what is on offer
The Kickstart Scheme provides funding towards the creation of new job placements for those in the age group 16 to 24 who are receiving universal credit, and who have been identified as being at risk of long-term unemployment.

The scheme is available to all employers, regardless of their size, who can apply for funding for 100% of the national minimum or living wage rates (dependent on the age of the Kickstarter) for a total of 25 hours per week, for a period of six months. The government will also pay the associated employer National Insurance contributions and minimum automatic enrolment contributions. Employers have the option of paying above the minimum rates but will be required to fund any top-up themselves.

Employers have the option of staggering the start date of the job placements until the end of December 2021, which is when the scheme is intended to close, although this could potentially be extended. The scheme was initially opened in September 2020.

Originally, Kickstart Scheme applications could only be made in relation to a minimum of thirty job placements, and if a single employer could not offer this amount then they would need to locate a Kickstart gateway to assist them in applying. Kickstart gateways could include local authorities, charities, or trade bodies.

...completely new jobs and must not replace any existing or planned vacancies...

Job placements created with Kickstart Scheme funding must be completely new jobs and must not replace any existing or planned vacancies; and also not lead to existing employees, apprentices or contractors losing work or having to reduce their hours of work as a result. Additionally, each job placement must only require basic training, and must ultimately ensure that the young person becomes more employable. Therefore, they must aid the

Kickstarter in seeking long-term work, which could include career advice and assistance in setting goals. The placements could help with curriculum vitae and interview preparations, and fundamentally, develop the skills that are beneficial in the workplace.

Once a six-month Kickstart Scheme job placement has been completed, a Kickstarter may be able to move to another employment scheme. This could include an apprenticeship (http://ow.ly/1dQK30ruG0I), a traineeship (http://ow.ly/IkBI30ruG0Q), or Sector-based Work Academy Programme (SWAP) (http://ow.ly/uEE230ruG0W).

Additional support costs
In addition to the funding laid out above, employers offering job placements under the scheme will be eligible for £1,500 worth of funding per job placement. This will be towards setup costs, and to help the young person in developing their employability skills. Where third parties assist in this process, it will be down to them and the employer to establish how the money should be shared.

Changes from 3 February 2021
As of 3 February 2021, employers are able to apply directly to the Kickstart Scheme, irrespective of the number of job placements they were offering. They still have the option of utilising a Kickstart gateway, but the minimum threshold of thirty job placements has been removed, in the hope that this would make it easier for employers of all sizes to benefit from the scheme.

The government has confirmed that it will continue to apply rigorous checks on the support it provides, in order to ensure that any job placements created are of a high quality and support the aims of the scheme.
In January 2021, the Kickstart Scheme had created over 120,000 new job placements, and there were more than 600 approved Kickstart gateways, spread across multiple sectors and different areas of the country. As a result, applications for new gateways were closed at the end of January 2021, but businesses still had the option of applying to an existing gateway in order to make their applications.

What next?
At the time of writing, what we know is that the 2021 Budget, due to be delivered on 3 March, may include details of further initiatives designed to encourage employers to hire young people, but until anything official is confirmed, businesses and individuals are advised to watch this space.

The CIPP will be reporting details of the Budget and the measures introduced that will affect payroll professionals. Anything new to support the employment of young people will undoubtedly fall into that category.

Featured in the March 2021 issue of Professional in Payroll, Pensions and Reward. Correct at time of publication.