College Friends

What is the Kickstart Scheme?

The Kickstart Scheme is a £2 billion investment by the government to try and prevent young people in a difficult jobs market from becoming reliant on Universal Credit, long term.

Find out below more information to see if participation in this scheme could be right for you and your business?.....

What is the Kickstart Scheme?

The Kickstart Scheme is a £2 billion investment by the government to try and prevent young people in a difficult jobs market from becoming reliant on Universal Credit, long term.

The Government’s aim is for employers to create 6 months’ work placements for those aged between 16 and 24 and at risk of long term unemployment.

In short, 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).

The thought 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. 

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.


When the scheme was first announced, it appeared that it would be open to businesses irrespective of size meaning micro businesses would certainly be eligible.  The chancellor also promised no cap on the number of placements. 

However, on launch of the scheme on 2nd September when all information was made available, it was made clear that only employers making 30 or more placements available will be able to apply directly with the Government.


How do employers apply for participation in the Kickstart Scheme?

For micro businesses, it will be essential to form some sort of partnership or collective with other similar employers to apply together.

The Government states:

“If your organisation is creating more than 30 job placements as part of the Kickstart Scheme, you can submit your application directly. 

If your organisation is creating fewer than 30 job placements, you cannot apply directly. You must partner with other organisations in order to create a minimum of 30 job placements before applying.”

They then go on to confirm that other organisations can include local authorities, charities, other employers and trade bodies.

So for the smallest businesses in the country, that sort of partnership will be absolutely essential. 


Who does the Government pay?

The Government will 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 meaning that the minimum wage will vary.

Are you required to employ Kickstarters after the 6 months?

No. There’s no requirement to employ them after 6 months. 

The main goal of these placements is to give young people skills to make them fundamentally more employable in the long term. The Government hopes that new skills obtained will include things such as CV writing skills, interview skills and timekeeping. Though any other valuable skills that could be provided would, of course, be welcomed.


Are there any negatives?

Given the people this scheme is designed to help, they 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.

Employers must consider just how much time and resource they’ll need to put into mentoring, training and supporting this individual. 

So it’s best to 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?

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.

The material available so far is aimed at employers rather than the prospective Kickstart employees. It does say the grant will only be paid if you hire someone referred to you as part of the scheme meaning that you can’t just go handpicking your own Universal Credit recipients. So far, there’s no confirmed information about whether all recipients will be eligible.


What do employers have to offer?

There is no formal information on this matter within the Government guidance – no explicit list that is to say. But placements of this nature aren’t intended just as free labour, of course.

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

The guidance suggests that employers should offer “employability support.”


Can you interview prospective Kickstarters?

Yes. Once you’ve made a successful application you can go about receiving applications for your job roles. You can implement your usual hiring criteria and process here as long as the panel of applicants you’re choosing from are introduced as a part of the scheme.

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 even after the publication of initial guidance.

To find out more, visit 

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is intended to be a guide and is not intended to be exhaustive. No action should be taken on the basis of information contained herein without obtaining the necessary advice. No responsibility can be accepted for loss or damages occasioned to any person acting or refraining from acting as a result of the material contained herein.