Could the Kickstart scheme support your recruitment strategy in 2021?

COVID-19 continues to impact the labour market, with continued employer uncertainty, we have seen record numbers of redundancies. With further lockdown restrictions expected, one of the hardest-hit brackets is the 16-24-year-olds.

Some of our hardest-hit sectors, leisure and hospitality, are heavy recruiters of this age bracket; and with thousands leaving full-time education with limited employment prospects the Government have stepped in and hope to generate them opportunities.

How does the Kickstart scheme work?

The Kickstart Scheme is available to employers of all size and provides funding for 25hrs per week, per employee for 6 months. The funding covers the vast majority of the employment costs:

  • 100% of the National Minimum Wage (or the National Living Wage depending on the age of the participant)
  • associated employer National Insurance contributions
  • employer minimum automatic enrolment contributions

The job placement must be new and filled by young people (aged 16-24-years-old), who are currently on universal credit; and at risk of long-term unemployment.

Kickstart scheme applicant

Eligibility criteria for the Kickstart scheme

To qualify for the scheme placements must:

  • be new jobs
  • must not be in replacement of existing vacancies or self-employed contractors;
  • be for a minimum of 25 hours per week for six months
  • must pay at least National Minimum Wage

A second applicant may take a placement after the first has completed their six-month period. Funding is only available for candidates introduced through the scheme; direct applications to the employer will not be considered.

When the scheme was first launched employers had to make at least 30 placements available between when the scheme opened, in November 2020, and December 2021. This would have ruled out many smaller employers, so on the 25 January 2021 the Government removed this requirement.

Wishing to create the biggest impact with the scheme, when the 30 minimum rule was in place businesses where allowed to pool their requirements with other companies through Kickstart gateways. These were organisations such as local authorities, charities or trade bodies that could take applications from multiple employers and make one application for over 30.

Even with the need to recruit 30 removed from 3 February 2021, it may still be worthwhile using your local gateway for support due to their experience of applying for the scheme. They are still open and willing to help; click here to find your local registered Kickstart gateway.

Funding for the Kickstart scheme

Instalments Grant sum payable Payment date/milestone
1st payment One £1,500 payment per Participant for set-up and support costs* On confirmation to DWP’s satisfaction that the Participant has started employment with the Grant Recipient.
2nd payment 100% of the Relevant Wage for 25 hours a week of work by the Participant during the first month of the job, plus the associated employer National Insurance contributions and employer minimum automatic enrolment contributions. Paid in arrears – on confirmation that Participant paid through pay-as-you-earn tax (PAYE) for the first month. This payment is expected to be in or around the 6th week of the placement.
3rd to 7th payments 100% of the Relevant Wage for 25 hours a week of work by the Participant during the subsequent second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth months of the job, plus the associated employer National Insurance contributions and employer minimum automatic enrolment contributions. Paid in arrears – approximately every month after the 2nd payment on confirmation that Participant paid through PAYE for the previous month.
* 1st Payment up to £1,500 per placement for setup costs, support and training. This includes IT equipment, software licences, uniform, PPE and admin and management time.

There will be ongoing monitoring, making sure that the funds are being spent as expected and that the employee is gaining the relevant skills pitched at the start of the application. This scheme is to provide young people with quality roles in organisations, and they are expected to help learn skills for future employment. Companies should make sure they have the resource to respond to any such data requests. The compliance checks we have seen regarding the CJRS suggest that the checks are extensive and can be time-consuming for employers, so having well-documented systems and procedures in place will support.

Employers must also commit to develop the skills and experience of each applicant, which should include supporting them in areas such as:

  • Looking for long-term work;
  • CV and interview preparation; and
  • Basic skills such as attendance, timekeeping and teamwork.

Applications for the Kickstart scheme

The scheme is live, and applications can be made through the Government website:

Sole application for 30 placements or more:

Applications where a Kickstart gateway is required:

Once your application is successful:

  1. You will be requested to provide DWP with job descriptions that work coaches at Jobcentre Plus will use to match suitable candidates for the job placements.
  2. DWP will send you the candidate details.
  3. You will then be able to interview the candidates matched to your job placements.
  4. You then select the candidate best suited to the role.

Applications will be considered by a panel who will only agree to provide the funding if the job placements meet the eligibility criteria.

The current aim is to respond to applications within one month of submission, and successful employers will receive a grant agreement detailing how much funding will be provided which they will need to sign and return before the placement can begin.

This article was written by Matthew Hector, Business Development Manager, who can be contacted for any further information.

We always recommend that you seek advice from a suitably qualified adviser before taking any action. The information in this article only serves as a guide and no responsibility for loss occasioned by any person acting or refraining from action as a result of this material can be accepted by the authors or the firm.


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