Kickstart scheme drops minimum threshold of 30 jobs

03 February 2021

The kickstart scheme has had a reboot today (3 February 2021) as the government opens the flagship summer statement initiative to employers of all sizes. The scheme which has been underway since September has already created more than 120,000 kickstart jobs for young people.

In this article I will review the scheme and highlight other employment options for young people. 


Research has highlighted the fact that the coronavirus outbreak has disproportionately impacted the employment of younger people. Those in certain age brackets are much more likely to have been placed on furlough through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) or actually lost their jobs at some point over the course of the pandemic.

The government has implemented a number of measures designed to encourage employers to take on younger people, and to ensure that they enter into meaningful work, which, it is hoped, can subsequently place them in fulfilling careers.

Kickstart scheme

One of the key measures introduced was announced within Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Plan for Jobs, which was delivered on 8 July 2020 – the kickstart scheme.

The scheme provides funding towards the creation of new job placements for individuals between the ages of 16 and 24, who are in receipt of Universal Credit, and potentially facing long-term unemployment.

Under the scheme, the government will pay 100% of the National Minimum Wage (NMW) or National Living Wage (NLW) (dependent on the age of the participant) for 25 hours a week, covering a period of six months. In addition, they will also fund the associated employer National Insurance (NI) and minimum employer auto enrolment (AE) pension contributions.

Job placements created using kickstart funding must be completely new jobs and must not replace any existing or planned vacancies. Nor must they mean that existing employees, apprentices, or contractors lose work or have to reduce their working hours.

They must only require basic training and should ultimately result in the young person becoming more employable. Job placements should assist in:

  • Looking for long-term work. This could include providing career advice and setting goals
  • Support with CV construction and preparation for interviews
  • Developing skills in the workplace

All employers can apply to the scheme, irrespective of their size, and the scheme will be open until the end of December 2021, although this could potentially be extended. Employers have the option of staggering the start date of job placements up until the point at which the scheme is intended to close.

Initially, employers were required to make applications for a minimum of 30 job placements, and in scenarios where they were not providing this amount, they would need to locate a Kickstart gateway to assist them in applying.

A kickstart gateway could include a local authority, a charity, or a trade body. However, to ensure that smaller employers were reaping the benefits of the scheme, this minimum threshold was removed from 3 February 2021, meaning applications can be made to any number of job placements.

Any employers offering job placements under the scheme are also eligible for £1,500 worth of funding per placement. This is in relation to any setup costs and costs associated with supporting the young person in the development of their employability skills. Where external businesses assist in this, it is up to themselves and the business offering the placements to determine how the money is shared.

The guidance has been updated to make clear that an organisation signed up to the scheme should not claim other government funding for that young person, , including reimbursement of Statutory Sick Pay or payments under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme or Job Support Scheme.

Once the six-month kickstart scheme job placement is complete, the young person may be able to transfer to another employment scheme. Some of which are covered below.


A traineeship is a skills development programme that includes a work placement and can last for any period ranging from six weeks up to one year. It is commonly accepted, however, that most will last for less than six months.

They assist 16–24-year-olds, or 25-year-olds with an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan to prepare for an apprenticeship or job, where they do not have the relevant skills or experience. In the Plan for Jobs, it was confirmed that employers who make new work placement opportunities available could be entitled to an incentive payment of £1,000 per learner, up to a maximum of ten learners. An application form relating to this is available online.

Further information on traineeships is available here.


An apprenticeship is a genuine job, which is accompanied by an assessment and skills development programme. It offers individuals the opportunity to ‘earn while they learn’, and to gain beneficial skills and knowledge in a specific job role.

In the Plan for Jobs, it was confirmed that, from 1 August 2020 up until 31 March 2021, those businesses employing apprentices will receive a £2,000 payment for apprentices between the ages of 16 to 24, and £1,500 for apprentices aged 25 and over.

Further information on apprenticeships is available here.

The end goal

It is clear to see that there is a real focus on, not just getting young people into work, but on encouraging them into jobs that will significantly improve their career prospects for the future.

Each of the measures detailed place emphasis on the requirement for employers using the schemes to ensure that they develop the workplace skills of individuals. Hopefully, this will result in young people embarking on fulfilling career paths that they will continue on in their futures.

This article was originally written for  Accounting Web.