Can the “kickstart” scheme work for businesses big and small?

by | Sep 11, 2020 | News

Back in July, the government announced a new “Kickstart” scheme aiming to tackle youth unemployment through a commitment to subsidise six months of wages for 16-24 year olds with limited skills/ experience who would otherwise struggle to get into employment. Throughout July and August, the Keep Britain Working team received many enquiries from businesses asking for more information on the scheme, as many employers found themselves unable to make any plans to take on Kickstarters until they had further information. 

The government officially launched the scheme on 2nd September and applications are now being accepted from employers or groups of employers. However, there is some concern from smaller businesses about how they can participate in the scheme as the government will only accept applications for 30 Kickstarters or more. Smaller businesses have been advised to partner together on their Kickstart bid in order to meet the 30 placement eligibility criteria. However, larger businesses may also need to do the same, as taking on 30 new trainees right now could be challenging even for a big employer. 

What are the conditions for a “Kickstart” placement? 

The intention of the scheme is to create new jobs for young people, hence the Kickstart placements must not replace existing or planned vacancies or cause existing employees or contractors to lose or reduce their employment. 

In terms of the roles themselves, they must:

  • be for a minimum of 25 hours per week, for 6 months
  • be paid at least the National Minimum Wage
  • not require extensive training prior to starting the job placement

Whilst the first placements are intended to start in November, the scheme has longer term intentions meaning that once a job placement is created, it can be taken up by a second person once the first successful applicant has completed their 6-month term.

What funding is available? 

As well as funding 100% of the relevant National Minimum Wage for 25 hours a week, the government will also pay for associated employer National Insurance and minimum auto-enrol pension contributions. There is also an additional £1,500 per placement available to help businesses with setup costs, support and training for the Kickstarters. 

How can businesses apply? 

As part of the application process, businesses will need to detail how they will help the participants to develop their skills and experience, in particular: 

  • supporting them to look for long-term work (including career advice, setting goals and CV/ interview preparations)
  • developing basic competencies, such as attendance, timekeeping and teamwork

As previously mentioned, the government will only consider applications for a minimum of 30 Kickstart placements. Businesses looking to make 30 placements can apply directly here. If a business is unable to offer this many job placements, they can partner with other organisations (similar employers,a local business or retail park, local authorities, trade bodies and registered charities) to submit a joint application. To help with the associated administrative costs of bringing together employers, £300 funding is available to support a representative applying on behalf of a group. You can find out more about becoming a representative for a group of employers here or contact your local or national Kickstart Scheme employer contact for help getting a representative.

Why put a minimum on the amount of placements? 

The Department for Work and Pensions has said that the minimum of 30 is ‘about making the process as efficient as possible so we can quickly get young people into placements – assessing a separate bid for every single vacancy would slow us down.’ Some have also speculated that the limits will encourage businesses to take on more kickstarters where they can and thus create more opportunities for young people.

How many jobs will the scheme create?

It’s still too early to tell. Whilst there is no limit of the amount of kickstarter grants available, ultimately, the amount of job creation will depend on businesses’ appetite to participate in the scheme. Whilst there was a lot of positive reception when the scheme was first announced in July, since the unveiling of the finer details in September, smaller business owners have voiced concerns that the scheme is overly complicated for them to get involved in. With SMEs employing 60% of the workforce and accounting for 99% of all businesses in the UK, it seems that partnerships and collaboration will be paramount to making the scheme work for both young people and businesses across the UK.

Share your thoughts

At Keep Britain Working, we’re really keen to hear from businesses on what they think about the scheme, what they’re planning on doing and whether there are any issues preventing them from taking part. We’re keen to hear your story and put businesses in touch with other businesses with similar concerns to problem solve together. Get in touch with us at

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