In summer 2020, the Chancellor announced a new employer initiative aimed at creating six-month paid work placements for young people who are at risk of long-term unemployment – the Kickstart Scheme.
Read this factsheet to understand the Kickstart Scheme and what it means for your business. From which jobs are eligible for the scheme, to additional financial support available for your business if you host a ‘Kickstarter’, discover the answers to the top questions businesses are asking.
What’s the latest information and insight?
In January 2021, the government announced important changes to the Kickstart Scheme. Employers who wish to host fewer than 30 placements are no longer required to apply via a Gateway organisation, and applications for new Gateways have now closed.
The Kickstart Scheme covers England, Scotland, and Wales (with funding due to be made available for a similar scheme in Northern Ireland). For each Kickstart job, the government will cover the cost of 25 hours a week at the relevant National Minimum Wage in addition to pension and National Insurance contributions. Employers will also receive £1,500 per placement for wraparound support for the young person, including personal development and employability skills. Read the government’s latest guidance for employers.
The scheme is currently due to run until December 2021 with the possibility of an extension. The CBI has been working closely with DWP and the Treasury since Kickstart was announced and will maintain a process of continuous feedback as the scheme progresses.
Is the Kickstart Scheme right for my business?
The Kickstart Scheme is open to businesses of all sizes and across all sectors – anyone can apply.
The CBI recognises that this is an incredibly challenging time for many employers. While some may not be in a position to host young people in additional roles right now, others may benefit from increasing their headcounts over the next few months. This could be to meet increased business demand in some areas, or to contribute to wider priorities around diversity and inclusion, or social mobility, within their organisations.
Kickstart: frequently asked questions
1. What’s the eligibility criteria for new jobs created under the scheme?
The government wants to encourage businesses across all sectors to apply to the scheme. However, there are a few stipulations which employers need to adhere to in order to receive the wage subsidy. The Kickstart Scheme job placements must:
- Last six months
- Be at least 25 hours per week (employers can top-up wages if the role is over this)
- Include support for young people to help them get work after they finish their Kickstart Scheme job (if not taken on longer term following the placement)
- Be ‘additional’ – this means the job would not exist without Kickstart Scheme grant funding and must not replace existing/planned jobs or cause existing employers or contractors to reduce their employment.
Outside of these criteria, the employer can choose to create additional roles in any part of their business. However, it is worth keeping in mind when scoping potential new roles that this might be the first paid job a young person on the scheme has ever had. These jobs only need to last 6 months and you are under no obligation to provide a full-time role for the young person once the placement has ended.
When applying to the Kickstart Scheme, you will be asked to provide some details about the types of roles you are planning. You will also be asked for further information to show your job placements are just for the Kickstart Scheme e.g. will not replace existing or planned vacancies, cause existing employees/contractors to lose or reduce their employment, and in what region they are likely to be based in (more details in question 2 below).
Once you submit an application, DWP will aim to get back to you within 30 days to discuss your application further. It is important to note that it is not a competitive process and an expression of interest is the start of a conversation between your organisation and DWP on how best you can support.
2. How can my organisation evidence that these new jobs are ‘additional’?
For those organisations applying directly, you will be asked to provide supporting evidence how these roles are additional within your organisation. You can do this by submitting the following information:
- Any changes to your workforce in the last six months and why (for example redundancies and changes to hours worked by existing staff)
- The number of people affected by changes to your workforce in the last six months as well as the size of your overall workforce
- The kinds of roles, functions and average salary of those who were made redundant or who had their hours reduced in the last six months
- If you would be able to create these job placements without Kickstart Scheme funding and what funding source you would use
- What recruitment you have completed, started or paused in the last six months, including how similar these vacancies are or were to the roles you are creating for the Kickstart Scheme
- If the job placements will be similar to existing or planned roles or the roles previously done by those made redundant or with fewer working hours, why you are using Kickstart Scheme funding to create similar roles
- If you’ve engaged with any relevant trade unions and any advice they have given.
If you are applying through a Kickstart gateway, they can support you to evidence this (please see question 3).
Initial feedback from DWP suggests that issues evidencing additionality are a major cause of delays to applications,
3. My organisation can provide additional roles and wants to take part in the Kickstart Scheme – how do we apply?
The government application process features two pathways for employers who wish to host Kickstarter placements: a direct application to DWP or an application through a Gateway organisation.
Apply to host any number of Kickstart placements directly.
If your organisation wishes to apply to host Kickstart placements through an intermediary Gateway organisation, the government has published a full list of registered Gateways. The Gateway will act on your behalf and apply for a Kickstart Scheme grant for you.
- Gather information from you about the job placements you would like to offer
- Use this information to submit an online application on behalf of a group of employers
- Pass on the relevant payments made by DWP to you (for example the young person’s salary).
They may also:
- Share their expertise with you to help you onboard and train young people employed through the scheme, for example supporting those with particular disadvantages or working in certain sectors
- Provide employability support directly to young people employed through the scheme.
Local authorities, charities and Chambers of Commerce have signed up to act as intermediaries for organisations looking to provide fewer than 30 placements. A full list of registered gateway organisations across England, Scotland and Wales are now available.
If your organisation plans to take on more than 30 ‘Kickstarters’ independently, you can apply directly.
4. How do I find a Kickstart gateway?
A full list of registered gateway organisations across England, Scotland and Wales is now available. All you need to do is drop them an email or give them a call if you are interested in partnering with them. If you need further support you can contact your local DWP Kickstart representative.
Each Gateway is likely to offer a different package of services, so it is worth contacting multiple Gateways before making a final decision.
5. How do I become a Kickstart gateway organisation or employer representative?
The government has now closed applications for new Gateway organisations.
6. What is meant by wraparound support and who can provide it?
By creating Kickstart Scheme job placements, you are helping young people who are at risk of being unemployed in the long term. Alongside the wage subsidy, as an employer you will also receive £1,500 per placement to set up support and training, as well as helping pay for uniforms and other setup costs.
Employability skills developed through the scheme could include:
- Travelling to work.
Kickstart participants may also need help with:
- CV and interviews
- Looking for long-term work.
You could provide this support yourselves or work with an external provider, such as a local college or charity. If you are applying via a Kickstart Gateway, the Gateway may be able to provide employability services on your behalf.
7. My organisation has submitted an expression of interest – what happens next?
Your application will be reviewed to check it meets the requirements of the Kickstart Scheme. It will then go to a panel for consideration. This is not a competitive process, but the Kickstart Scheme will only provide funding when the job placements meet the criteria.
DWP aims respond to your application within one month, but this can take longer if DWP requires additional information from your organsiation. However, DWP has received a high volume of applications from both Gateways and individual businesses, the result of which is that some applications – particularly those made by Gateways – are taking longer to process than anticipated. DWP expects that the time taken to process applications will improve as the Scheme continues to roll out.
If your application meets the requirements of the scheme, you will receive a letter with a grant agreement. This agreement will include what your company has agreed to provide, and how much funding you will receive from the Kickstart Scheme.
If your application does not meet the requirements of the scheme, DWP will provide feedback. You can submit a new application with further information. There is no limit to the number of times you can apply for funding, however there is no legal right of appeal.
After you have agreed and signed your grant agreement, you will need to provide job descriptions for each of the job placements, including what candidates need to do to apply. If you have applied through a Gateway, they will send the job descriptions to DWP. DWP work coaches will then match suitable candidates to the job placements, and you will be able to interview the candidates matched to your job placements. As the employer, you can choose who to employ but you will only obtain funding if you appoint a young person that DWP have introduced.
You will receive initial setup costs when you have confirmed the young person has started work, is enrolled on your payroll and is being paid through PAYE. DWP will use information from HMRC to check that the young person is still employed and will pay the grant in monthly arrears. DWP may contact you or the young person during the job placement to check what employability support has been offered. This is to make sure the young person has the best experience from the scheme.
If you applied through a Gateway, DWP will send the funding to the Kickstart Scheme gateway and they will be responsible for sending the funding to you. You need to tell your Kickstart gateway when the young person starts their job placement. They can then send you the £1,500 setup costs.
8. Our application was rejected – what do we do next?
DWP should provide you with information explaining why your application was rejected.
Applications that fail to meet the financial due diligence standards cannot be resubmitted except through agreement between you and an approved Gateway Direct where they will act as the employer on your behalf.
However, applications that have not supplied sufficient evidence that the jobs are additional or that the employability support will be of sufficient quality can revise their application and resubmit.
Early feedback from DWP indicates that a lack of information demonstrating that the jobs are additional and insufficient detail on the wraparound employability support that will be provided to the Kickstarter are common themes among rejected applications. If this is the case for your application, you may be able to review your application and apply again through:
- the same Kickstart gateway
- a different Kickstart gateway
DWP has published tips for a successful Kickstart application, which you can find here.
9. What impact are further lockdown restrictions having on the rollout of Kickstart?
DWP continues to process Kickstart applications and job descriptions for approved placements. Employers whose placements have been approved can postpone them to a later date due to further lockdown restrictions but can also begin the placements if they wish to do so.
- The government’s dedicated Kickstart website
- CBI @10am webinar ‘Everything you need to know about Kickstart’
- Summary of CBI’s member consultation on Kickstart with Mims Davies and DWP officials
- CBI SME Policy Briefing on ‘helping businesses step up for young people’