Barring any new announcements, the furlough scheme to support employers through lockdown will finish at the end of October. In the interim the Chancellor has announced two new schemes to encourage employers to take on new staff. The first of these was the Apprentice bonus scheme previously covered in these pages. The second is the Kickstart scheme.

This scheme is intended to encourage employers to take on 16-24 year olds who are currently on Universal Credit. This is because this group is considered at risk of long-term unemployment. Because this is intended to reduce unemployment, jobs created under the scheme cannot replace recent redundancies or reduce the hours of existing employees. Employers will also have to provide evidence that they are providing support and training to eligible employees. The available grant covers the following

PICTURE: Brooke Cagle/Unsplash

• 25 hours a week at the National Minimum Wage Rate applicable to the employee for the first six months of employment. This is also the minimum number of hours an employer must provide. 

• Associated National Insurance and Pension costs on top of the gross wage

• A one-off £1,500 grant per employee to cover set up costs. This is intended to cover things like required training for new starters and uniforms.

The initial setup grant will be paid once an employer reports an employee has started with them. The remainder of the grant will be paid in arrears once payroll reports are submitted to HMRC showing that the individual is still employed. The DWP, who have responsibility for the scheme, will also ocassionally check in with employees to confirm that they are receiving the required support and training as part of their job. 

When the Chancellor initially announced this scheme, he described it as being for businesses “big or small, national or local”. This claim has been somewhat undermined by a late amendment to the scheme. In order to qualify, at least 30 job placements must be created. Whilst this would exclude many businesses that would benefit greatly from this scheme, there is an alternative way of applying. 

If an individual company cannot provide that many places on their own, they can get together with others to provide the placements as a group. There are already a number of organisations, described as Kickstarter Gateways, set up to facilitate this. Details of these groups can be found here. (tinyurl.com/KickstartGateway). It is possible to set up your own group, but the person chosen to represent the group has to meet certain criteria for this. The main requirements if that they have demonstrable experience of managing such partnering arrangements and that they have robust systems in place to ensure they do so properly. Further details of these criteria can be found here. (tinyurl.com/KickstartRep).

More details of the scheme, including a link for sufficiently large individual employers to apply, can be found here. (tinyurl.com/KickstartDetail)


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