What is the Government’s Kickstart scheme and how can it help with recruitment?

It’s been a tough year for young people – and for employers too. Fortunately, support is at hand from the Government, thanks to its innovative Kickstart paid work placement scheme.
So what does your company need to know about Kickstart? How can you apply, and what’s the timetable? And how might job placements affect your commercial insurance policy? Read on for our guide!

What’s the aim of the scheme?

Kickstart is a Government scheme to help young people avoid long-term unemployment. It funds employers to create new six-month paid job placements for people aged 16-24, and provide recruits with employability support.
The scheme was launched in the summer of 2020 by Chancellor Rishi Sunak to help the large numbers of young people whose employment prospects were damaged by the Covid-19 pandemic.
While official figures have fluctuated a great deal over the course of the pandemic, the number of people aged 18-24 in employment in January to March 2021 was 8% lower than the same quarter the previous year – that’s a drop of 310,000 jobs.
Kickstart aims to boost the creation of hundreds of thousands of jobs across the UK over two years. It is not to be confused with Kickstarter, a crowdfunding platform!

What does the Government provide?

The Government has set up a £2bn pot to fully fund job placements so that employers are not left out of pocket.
It pays Kickstart recruits 100% of the National Minimum Wage or National Living Wage (depending on their age) for 25 hours per week, plus employer National Insurance contributions and minimum automatic enrolment pension contributions.
The scheme also provides employers with £1,500 per job placement. This is to cover associated set-up costs, such as equipment and software. It also covers the cost of providing employability training.
Therefore, it could be a great way for your business to recruit new talent – with no obligation to provide a long-term job, and at no financial cost to your organisation. If your company is seeking to get back into financial shape after the pandemic, it might be just the boost you need.
Plus, you’ll be offering a step up to the next generation, many of whom have found it impossible to get on the career ladder during the pandemic.
 Three stacks of coins increasing in size on a window ledge

Which applicants are eligible?

The scheme aims to help young people at risk of long-term unemployment. Therefore, applicants must be aged between 16 and 24, and in receipt of Universal Credit.
They can live anywhere in the UK, and have any educational background. They don’t need to have extensive training – these are envisaged as starter jobs, to get people on the path to career success. So all applicants need is enthusiasm and a willingness to work and learn!
Job centre work coaches will talk to young people in receipt of Universal Credit about the scheme, and point them in the direction of opportunities in their area.

Which companies are eligible?

The scheme is open to all types of organisations. So whether you’re a limited company, a charity, a local authority, a trade body or any other type of business, you can apply.
And it’s open to all sectors, so whether your organisation operates in construction, hospitality, health, arts and culture, leisure, the motor trade, retail or anything else, your application will be welcomed.
Originally, the scheme was open only to companies which could offer a minimum of 30 placements, making it sadly out of reach to smaller businesses.
However, this has now changed, and there is no minimum. So even if you have just one position to offer, it’s worth making an application – you will be offering a valuable hand-up to a young person at this unprecedented time.

What job placements are covered?

Job placements must be for six months, and for a minimum of 25 hours per week. You can offer the placement to a second recruit after the first recruit has completed their time with your company.
It’s important that they are new posts: you must not replace existing or planned vacancies, or reduce the hours you offer to existing employees or contractors. There should be no prior training required.
Beyond those criteria, you can set up job placements in any area of your business and apply to the Kickstart scheme.
While the posts are fully funded by the scheme, you are still the official employer. That means you have certain legal obligations, such as having employer’s liability cover as part of your insurance for commercial businesses.

How long is the scheme running for?

Kickstart began in September 2020. Job placements must begin by 31st December 2021, ending six months later. So if you’re interested in joining, there’s still time to apply – but you’d best get going now!
Currently, the scheme is due to be wound up when those last job placements end in June 2022, but many organisations want it to be extended to December 2022 at the earliest.
The Employment Related Services Association (ERSA) recently published an open letter to the Chancellor calling for an extension to the scheme.
David Hinton, Director of Impact and Innovation, Supply Train CIC and Kickstart Gateway said: “Young people want and need to work, but many haven’t had the opportunity to do so. We see so many enthusiastic, determined candidates that have either been stopped in their career tracks by the pandemic, or need the right kind of employability support to make the breakthrough into work.
“Kickstart is opening new vacancies and accessing funding to enable that, and long must it continue. Being supported into work has a hugely positive impact on young people’s mental wellbeing and is an injection of fresh ideas and outlook for any employer.”
 A more senior office worker showing a new starter something on a computer screen

What support must you offer your Kickstart recruits?

The Government will pay your Kickstart recuits the minimum wage and associated benefits for their age group. If you wish, your company can offer above this amount, but the surplus will not be covered by the Government.
Mostly important, your company is obliged under the scheme to help your recruits gain the skills they will need to find long-term work.
Many of these will be gained on the job, i.e. technical know-how, plus essential employment skills such as time-keeping and attendance.
Additionally, you should offer them training in employability skills such as interview techniques and CV writing.
And you can also provide them with invaluable career guidance based on the insights you have gained into your profession and sector.
If you’re impressed by your recruits, you can promote them internally to a new role, or move them onto an apprenticeship. So the scheme can be a great way for your company to attract and nurture new talent.
Don’t forget that your recruits are your employees. So you need to ensure they are given appropriate health and safety training and equipment, and that they are covered under your commercial insurance policy.

How can your organisation apply for the Kickstart scheme?

You need to apply online for a Kickstart Scheme Grant for Employers.
You’ll be asked for information about the job placements you wish to offer, and where in the UK they will be based. If your business has any type of official registration, with Companies House or the Charities Commission, you’ll need to provide details.
You’ll also need to supply further information to confirm that your proposed placements are new roles, and that none of your employees or contractors have been made redundant or had their hours reduced to make way for new recruits. For most potential employers, this is the trickiest part of the application process.
In addition, you will need to explain how you will offer recruits support in obtaining employability skills.
Once you’ve submitted your application, you’ll be contacted by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) within 30 days. It’s not a competitive process – rather, the DWP wants to start discussions with you to ensure that the scheme will work for both you and your recruits.
If your application is rejected, you don’t have the right to appeal. However, it might be possible to revise your application and resubmit it, depending on the grounds for rejection.

What are Kickstart Gateways?

There’s no denying that the application process can be confusing, especially for smaller businesses. If you feel a bit out of your depth, you can turn to a Kickstart Gateway for support.
These are organisations which have been approved by the DWP to act as intermediaries, offering assistance to businesses like yours.
You can apply through them for a Kickstart grant, rather than to the scheme directly. The Gateway will help you put your application together, which is particularly helpful when it comes to proving that the placements you want to offer are genuinely new roles.
If your application is successful, the Gateway will then manage the grant for you. This includes passing on funding from the DWP so that you can pay your recruits. Kickstart Gateways receive £360 per placement to cover their admin costs.
They will also offer you further support to ensure the placement is a success. These services vary between Gateways, so it’s best to shop around to find the one that can offer your organisation what you need.
For example, many Gateways will help you by providing employability training to the young people on your placements. Others will assist in recruitment, perhaps by advising you on how to target people in hard-to-reach groups.

How has the scheme been received?

According to the ERSA, employers have been “overwhelmingly positive” about the scheme.
One satisfied employer is Futureworks, Pembrokeshire County Council, which has created 200 job placements under the programme.
Its Performance and Quality Coordinator, Alison Moore, said: “The best aspect of Kickstart is seeing and hearing about the young people in their roles. They are full of enthusiasm and keen to learn new skills. Employers have been feeding back really positive experiences and finding the young people really helpful in a range of different areas.
“The process of being able to see young people through the application / interview stage and on into their work also allows a unique opportunity to see where their strengths and weaknesses lie in terms of employability skills so we can build this into the employability development sessions.”

What other employment schemes are there?

Kickstart is part of the Government’s ‘Plan for Jobs’. There are several elements to this plan, so perhaps one of them might be suitable for your organisation?
Apprenticeships last for 12 months, and combine on-the-job training with off-the-job learning. They are available at different levels, from junior positions right up to Master’s degree equivalents.
T Levels are a two-year qualification for 16 to 19-year-olds, with each T Level equivalent to three A levels. They include 45-day industry placements, which are a great way for employers to build a pipeline of new talent and find prospective apprentices.
Sector-based Work Academy Programmes (SWAPs) are designed to offer placements of up to six weeks and a guaranteed job interview to people who are out of work.
Traineeships are for young people, with employers offering at least 70 hours of high-quality work experience.
Remember: always make sure that you know what your obligations are under any programme. As a bare minimum, you’ll need to provide a safe workplace, so make sure you’re covered by your commercial insurance.

Get a quote from Insurance Choice Commercial today

Taking on an apprentice, trainee or Kickstart recruit is a great way to boost your business and give the next generation a helping hand.
As a responsible employer, you also need to ensure that everyone’s protected while working for you, so commercial insurance that includes employer’s liability is a must.
Insurance Choice Commercial arranges policies to suit your business needs and budget. Benefits can include cover for buildings and contents; business interruption; professional indemnity; vehicles; stock and equipment; and much more.
We work with a panel of trusted providers to bring you a range of policies and we can offer flexible payment solutions, including paying in monthly instalments.
Contact us today for a commercial insurance quote.

Policy benefits, features and discounts offered may very between insurance schemes or cover selected and are subject to underwriting criteria. Information contained within this article is accurate at the time of publishing but may be subject to change.