Kickstart Scheme

By Andrew Willis
04 Feb 2021

The Kickstart scheme was announced by the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, in July 2020. The scheme was unveiled as part of his “Plan for Jobs”.

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. Employers who take on scheme participants will receive funding from the Government. This funding will cover some employment costs—including wages.

The Kickstart Scheme

Which employers can apply for funding?

The scheme is being run across several industries in England, Scotland and Wales. It’s open to all employers who meet the minimum requirements for offering the scheme. The Chancellor has urged every employer, big or small, to hire as many “Kickstarters” as possible.

What does the scheme consist of?

Under the scheme, employers can offer six-month placements to participants in ‘new’ jobs. The job placements must be roles that are in addition to the current workforce.

In addition, employers are expected to develop the skills and experience of the participant. This includes things such as:

  • Looking for long-term work
  • Advice on their career and setting goals
  • Support with CVs and interview preparations
  • Attendance
  • Timekeeping
  • Teamwork

Applications for funding need to include details on how this support will be provided.

The Kickstart Scheme is not an apprenticeship. The Government confirmed that participants can move on to become apprentices at any time, during or after, their Kickstart placement.

What does the funding cover?

The scheme covers 100% of the relevant National Minimum Wage for 25 hours’ work per week. It will also cover your National Insurance contributions and your minimum auto-enrolment pension contributions.

Employers are able to top up the payment or offer a higher number of working hours. However, the excess will not be covered by the funding.

The Government also pays 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.

Employers who take part in this scheme can hire a second Kickstart participant into the same placement. However, you must wait until the first participant has completed their 6 months.

What are the eligibility requirements for the scheme?

To be eligible for the scheme, you must:

  • Be an existing company/organisation with a track record of fiscal competence
  • Offer a vacancy/vacancies which are new and not a replacement of an existing job, or cause current staff to have a reduced workload
  • Be prepared to offer at least 25 hours a week to participants, for at least six months, who are paid at the appropriate NMW for their age group
  • Demonstrate at application stage what employability support you will provide to participants. This must cover the transferable skills needed to continue into gainful employment, training or education
  • Demonstrate that the jobs you are offering are quality placements. They must be both “meaningful” and “suitable” – that will benefit the participant in future
  • Show how you plan to monitor the progress of participants. They must be compliant and meet the quality requirements for the scheme. These should cover participants’ safety, employer liability insurance, risk assessments for the vulnerable, and Disclosure and Barring Services for 16/17 year olds
  • Show how publicity activities, such as branding, will comply with the DWP publicity requirements.

What is a Kickstart gateway?

Prior to 3 February 2021, employers who could not provide a minimum of 30 placements could still take part in the scheme. However, to do so you would have to combine with other small companies via a Kickstart gateway.

A Kickstart gateway is an organisation that has successfully applied for funding through the Kickstart Scheme. These organisations can represent employers who want to apply to the Scheme. Kickstart gateways can be any type of organisation.

From 3 February onwards, employers in this situation no longer need to apply for funds via a gateway. If you wish to use the scheme, you can do so directly. You are still free to use existing gateways if you wish.

How do employers apply directly for funding?

To apply directly, employers can use a portal on the Government website. To complete the application, you will need:

  • The Companies House reference number or Charity Commission number
  • The organisation address and contact details
  • Details of the Kickstart Scheme job placements and their location
  • Supporting information to show that the job placements are new jobs and meet the Kickstart Scheme criteria
  • Information about the support you can give to develop employability skills of young people.
  • Once the application is received, it will be decided on by a panel and a response given within a month.

If the application is successful, you must sign and return a ‘grant agreement’ before placements can begin. You must also send job descriptions for each role to the DWP. Once this is done, they will consider them and match suitable candidates. Finally, they’ll pass details of those matched to you.

You can then hold interviews to decide who to employ.

Expert support

If you need guidance on any part of the Kickstart scheme or hiring process, get expert advice today. Our team of HR and employment law experts are ready to take your call on 01455 858 132.

About the Author

Andrew Willis

Andrew Willis is the senior manager of the Litigation and Employment Department and assumes additional responsibility for managing Croner’s office based telephone HR advisory teams, who specialise in employment law, HR and commercial legal advice for small & large organisations across the United Kingdom.





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