HR Expert: Kickstart Scheme

A client wants to take advantage of the Kickstart Scheme because they heard in July that the Government would pay them to take on 16-24-year-old “Kickstarters”. Is this correct, and what are the other details the client needs to know – including the number of participants they can hire?

The Kickstart Scheme was indeed announced by the Chancellor in July 2020 as part of his “Plan for Jobs” initiative. It is aimed at creating new high-quality jobs to help 16-24-year-old unemployed people on Universal Credit who are at risk of long-term unemployment. Applications opened on 2nd September 2020 and will be open until December 2021, with the option of it being extended. The first placements are likely to be available from November 2020.

If your client is to take on participants, they will receive funding from the Government to cover some employment costs, including wages.

The Government will pay employers £1,500 towards setting up support and training for those on the Kickstart placement. This payment can also be used to pay for uniforms and other necessary start-up costs. The scheme will also cover 100% of the relevant National Minimum Wage (NMW) for 25 hours’ work per week, as well as employer National Insurance contributions and employer minimum auto-enrolment pension contributions.

Currently, the hourly NMW rates are:

  • Ages 16 – 17: £4.55
  • Ages 18 – 20: £6.45
  • Ages 21 – 24: £8.20

Employers will be able to top up the payment, but the excess will not be covered by the funding.

With regards to the number of “Kickstarters” your client can hire, the published list of minimum requirements stipulates that at least 30 placements must be offered, which should be new and not a replacement of an existing job or cause current staff to have a reduced workload. Other minimum requirements include:

  • being an existing company/organisation with a track record of fiscal competence
  • being prepared to offer at least 25 hours a week to participants, for at least 6 months, who are paid at the appropriate NMW for their age group
  • demonstrating at application stage what employability support employers will provide to
  • participants to give them the transferable skills needed to continue into gainful employment, training, or education
  • demonstrating that the jobs they are offering are quality placements – both “meaningful” and “suitable” – that will benefit the participant in future
  • showing how they plan to monitor the progress of participants to the satisfaction of the compliance and quality requirements for the scheme
  • showing how publicity activities, such as branding, will comply with the DWP publicity requirements

If your client is unable to offer 30 job placements, they can partner with other organisations to reach the minimum placement requirement. A representative of the group must then be nominated, who will check that all job placements are eligible for the scheme and submit the application on the group’s behalf. Applications can be made via the government website.


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