As an official Kickstart Gateway, we hope to answer any questions you may have about the scheme. You can find answers to the most frequent enquiries from prospective and existing partners below.
About the Kickstart Scheme
- What Is the Kickstart Scheme?
The Kickstart scheme is a government-funded operation, whereby £2 billion of funding has been set aside to create 300,000 new roles. These roles are to be filled by people between the ages of 16-24 and in receipt of Universal Credit. It spans a six-month paid work placement and requires skills training on the part of the employer.
- When Did Kickstart Launch and How Long Will It Last?
Kickstart officially launched on 8 July 2020, following an announcement from Chancellor Rishi Sunak as part of the Plan for Jobs. The first job placements through larger organisations began in November 2020, while Gateway applications commenced in January 2021.
The scheme is scheduled to end in December 2021. There is a strong possibility that the scheme may be extended, and businesses are welcome to apply for places at any time. If a placement ends while the project remains active, previous employers are not precluded from offering new posts.
Additionally, new applications are welcomed up to and including the current closing date of December 2021. Placements that commence during this time will continue to receive all prescribed government support for their full duration, even if this extends beyond the scheme’s closure.
- Which Businesses Can Apply for Kickstart Funding?
Officially, businesses of any size can apply for funding through the Kickstart scheme. However, the Department of Work and Pensions carries out a number of due diligence checks on all applicants, and there are no guarantees of acceptance, even for established organisations.
While the full approval criteria are not publicly available, we have noted that organisations listed on Companies House or with the Charity Commission and have been trading for over a year have higher chances of success.
With that said, the government notes that sole traders and smaller organisations can serve as the ideal hosts for scheme placements.
The best way to check your eligibility is to apply, and we can arrange this on your behalf as an official gateway provider. Contact us to find out more, and a member of our Kickstart Team will be in touch shortly.
Do please note that in order to use EmployabilityUK as your Gateway provider, there is a minimum requirement of five roles per organisation.
- How Long Does the Application Process Take?
Whether you apply to the scheme directly or use EmployabilityUK as an intermediary, you should expect to wait around eight weeks for the full completion of the process. This includes confirming eligibility, finding the right people for your roles and starting them with your organisation.
Confirmation of eligibility alone can take as little as two weeks, but timescales vary depending on the number of applications being assessed through the scheme.
If you choose to work with EmployabilityUK as your gateway provider, we handle the application process on your behalf. We then keep you up to date at every stage, without further intervention from you.
Managing the Kickstart Scheme
- Who is Eligible for a Kickstart Role?
The Kickstart scheme was designed for young people between the ages of 16 and 24 who are currently in receipt of Universal Credit and potentially at risk of long-term unemployment.
- What is the Recruitment Process?
Organisations have full control over the job descriptions they submit for the roles they are looking to create. These roles take the standard format, where you can specify experience, qualifications or any other factors desirable in the ideal candidate.
Kickstart roles are added to the Jobcentre Plus database, and potential candidates will be alerted to their availability by their work coach.
Work coaches will then forward the details of suitable candidates. Employers can handle this directly or work with us as an intermediary as part of our service provision.
- I Have a Candidate in Mind – Can I Hire Them Through the Scheme?
The DWP is happy for candidates to apply for Kickstart roles through Jobcentre Plus proactively. In cases where you have a candidate in mind, or they have seen the role advertised elsewhere, they are encouraged to apply through their work coach.
These candidates must still follow the standard application process and must meet all programme requirements. It should be noted that even if a potential candidate is within the prescribed age range and in receipt of Universal Credit, they must still meet the DWP’s criteria for being at risk of long-term unemployment.
- Can I Retain a Kickstart Employee Beyond the 6-Month Placement?
You are free to hire promising candidates outside the Kickstart scheme’s parameters at any point during or after their time with you.
If you choose to hire a candidate during their placement, the government’s financial support will cease.
If you wish to hire a candidate following their time with you on a placement, we are happy to provide support in our capacity as your gateway provider.
- Can a Kickstart Employee Work from Home?
There are no rules governing where and when your kickstart employees should work, beyond the requirement for 25 hours of worthwhile tasks each week. They can work in your registered premises, other locations associated with your business or from home. However, the onus is on the employer to ensure that each candidate has the required equipment and associated items to perform their role.
Kickstart Funding and Finances
- How Much Financial Support Will Employers Receive for Placements?
Employers receive £1,500 for each candidate they successfully employ. This subsidy is expected to be used towards costs associated with the creation of a new role. This might include technology provision, training, uniforms and other associated expenses.
This payment also covers the requisite employability skills training required as part of each Placement. In addition to the provision of a worthwhile role within the organisation, employers are also expected to demonstrate skills training around:
- Attendance and timekeeping
- Written and verbal communication skills
- CVs and interviews
- Working in a team
- Setting up candidates for long-term work
- What are the Hours and Wages for Kickstart Employees?
Each Kickstart position involves 25 hours of work each week for a period of 6 months, paid at minimum wage by the government.
The rate of pay varies depending on the candidate’s age:
- 16-17 – £4.62/hr
- 18-20 – £6.56/hr
- 21-22 – £8.36/hr
- 23 and above – £8.91/hr
Kickstart employees join under the terms of your standard payroll procedures and are paid from company funds as usual. The government then reimburses in arrears, with payments made bimonthly in arrears.
The government also covers National Insurance contributions and employer automatic enrolment contributions.
If you choose to work with a gateway provider, such as EmployabilityUK, payments are handled by that provider and then passed on to the employer.
- Can I Employ a Kickstart Candidate for Higher Wages or More Hours?
You are free to treat Kickstart employees just as you would any other. If you wish to pay more than minimum wage and/or for more hours each week, it is perfectly fine to do so. However, government support does not go beyond the hours and payments outlined previously.
- Do Kickstart Employees Have a Contract?
Outside of financial support towards costs and wages, Kickstart employees should be treated like any other. If you apply directly, they will require an employment contract with your organisation. If you apply through a gateway intermediary like EmployabilityUK, their contract will be with them.
Kickstart contracts are relatively uniform, and are provided as part of scheme documentation.
Partnering with EmployabilityUK as Your Kickstart Gateway
- What are the Benefits of Partnering with EmployabilityUK?
As your gateway provider, EmployabilityUK can work with you at every stage of the Kickstart process to ensure you and your candidates get the most possible from the experience.
We can apply to the scheme on your behalf and handle the financial side of the engagement.
We would also be delighted to bring our wealth of skills and experience in skills training to your organisation, ensuring that you exceed the prescribed wraparound requirements involved with each placement.
In practice, this includes:
- Access to live online employability skills workshops.
- An individual Personal Development Plan.
- CV development and improvement.
- LinkedIn Profile support, creation and improvement.
- Signposting to a range of training resources.
- A mentoring opportunity as part of a 1 to 1 programme.
Access to our 360Extranet. This is our online resource which allows learners to refresh skills gained from the online workshops and further support them on their journey. Topics include: workplace etiquette, careers advice, well-being, personal safety, money management and much more.
- Are There Benefits to Applying with a Gateway Over Applying Directly?
The most obvious benefit of using a gateway for your Kickstart application is that we can carry out much of the administration and associated tasks on your behalf. As long as you have an idea of how many candidates you require and a general outline of the job description, we can take it from there.
We have already worked with multiple organisations on their applications, and we will utilise all of that experience to ensure that yours stands the best chance of meeting all required criteria.
Furthermore, if you have previously applied directly and been declined on the basis of financial requirements, you are usually precluded from applying again. However, in such cases, we can apply as the ’employer’ on your behalf, providing an additional opportunity to revise your application.
- What Costs are Involved with Partnering with EmployabilityUK?
Gateway providers, EmployabilityUK included, do not charge up-front fees. However, we do subtract an amount from the £1,500 grant associated with each placement to cover the costs of the employability skills wraparound. Costs are based on a sliding scale depending on the number of placements required and starts from £500 per candidate.
We also receive a payment directly from the government for acting as your Kickstart Gateway.
All other payments, such as the remainder of the initial grant and wage subsidies, are paid to your organisation as normal.