Kickstart Scheme – A Guide for Employers

2 weeks ago

In July 2020, Rishi Sunak announced the Government’s “plan for jobs,” with yet further Government investment being ploughed into helping the economy in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Amongst the announcements was that of the “Kickstart Scheme,” designed to prevent young people at risk of long term unemployment from meeting that fate.

But what is it, what are the benefits for employers and how do you get involved.

We’ve done the research and will continue to update this piece as more information is made available.

What is the Kickstart Scheme?

In short, it’s a £2 billion investment by the government to try and prevent young people in a difficult jobs market from becoming reliant on Universal Credit over the long term.

Essentially, the Government wants employers to create 6 months work placements for those aged between 16 and 24 and at risk of long term unemployment.

The Government is going to pay employers directly to the tune of the minimum wage, National Insurance contributions and pension contributions (based on a 25/week placement).

So, the idea is that a young person at risk of long term unemployment gets a placement and some valuable experience/training while the employer gets additional resource that the Government foots the bill for. 

In their own words:


The government will introduce a new Kickstart Scheme to fund the direct creation of high quality jobs for young people at the highest risk of long-term unemployment. It will give young people the chance to build their confidence and skills in the workplace, and to gain experience that will improve their chances of going on to find long-term, sustainable work.

Which employers can apply for the Kickstart Scheme?

The Government is encouraging all businesses to apply to take on a young person for 6 months. We’ve been given no excluding criteria at all right now. In fact, in his speech, the Chancellor was clear:

And I urge every employer, big or small, national or local, to hire as many Kickstarters as possible.

Rishi Sunak - Chancellor

So it appears that it will be very open to businesses irrespective of size, meaning micro businesses will certainly be eligible and Sunak promised no cap on the number of placements. 

It’s possible (given that they refer throughout to “employers” that only businesses who already have employed someone may be able to apply. But this remains to be seen.

How do employers apply for the Kickstart Scheme?

We don’t yet have an application portal at the time of writing (1st August). But during his speech, Sunak said employers would be able to apply “next months” so we assume more information will be available soon.

Do you have to employ Kickstarters after the 6 months?

No. It doesn’t appear that there will be any such requirement. The wording of the documentation we have seen so far and of Sunak’s speech implies it’s more about setting these Kickstarters up with the skills, confidence and work experience to help them secure work later.

Though I’m sure you’d be able to offer permanent roles to them should you wish.

Who does the Government pay?

The Government is going to pay the employer directly to the tune of a minimum wage, National Insurance Contributions and Pension Contributions for 25 hours per week.

Bear in mind that the Kickstarters will all be aged 16 to 24 and as such the minimum wage varies.

What do employers have to offer?

There is no formal documentation on this at the time of writing. But placements of this nature aren’t intended just as free labour, of course.

You should be offering training, real work experience and helping these young people to build their professional skills.

Are there any negatives?

Yes, of course. Given the people this scheme is designed to helped are all likely to be new to the workforce (possibly just out of school, college or university), they’re not likely to have much work experience.

Don’t forget to consider just how much time and resource you’ll need to put into mentoring, training and supporting this individual. 

So do weigh up carefully if this is something that’s right for your business and have a clear idea from the outset as to what skills you can equip them with.

Are all 16 to 24 year olds on Universal Credit eligible?

So, we don’t get know. The Chancellor said this is for 16 to 24 year olds on Universal Credit “at risk of long term unemployment.” It isn’t yet clear whether that means all 16 to 24 year olds on Universal Credit or whether other criteria will apply.

Can you interview prospective Kickstarters?

Again, we don’t know. It seems fair to assume so and also to assume some degree of a say over what skills might be useful in a Kickstarter. When you take Apprentices on, you can specify and interview.

What happens if it doesn’t work out with a Kickstarter?

It’s a fair assumption, much as is the case with Apprentices, that you’ll be able to terminate the placement. But again, lots is still to be confirmed.

Further Resources

There’s a lot still to be confirmed and we will update this post when we have it. In the meantime, additional resources:


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Kickstart Scheme – A Guide for Employers

In July 2020, Rishi Sunak announced the Government's "plan for jobs," with yet further Government investment being ploughed into helping the economy in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic.Amongst the announcements was that of the "Kickstart Scheme," designed to prevent...


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