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Benefitting from Kickstart and Apprenticeship Schemes – Employment Law Foundations

At the Conservative Party Conference yesterday the Chancellor Rishi Sunak spoke of his plan to  extend cash incentives for hiring new apprentices as well as his flagship Kickstart scheme as part of a £500 million jobs support package. 

The package aims to target skills deficits which is leaving many employers struggling to find suitable candidates to hire.  Mr Sunak described the Government’s measures as a response to the ‘awesome power of opportunity’ in rebuilding a UK economy still bearing the scars of the pandemic.

Bonuses of £3,000 for every apprentice a business hires ended in September, but Sunak will prolong the scheme by four months until the end of January 2022.

Kickstart – which subsidises job placements for young people on universal credit – was due to end in December but will be extended by three months to March 2022.

In his speech for the Conservative Party Conference, Sunak said he is “ready to double-down” on his promise to “do whatever it takes” to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The job is not done yet and I want to make sure our economy is fit for the future and that means providing the support and skills people need to get into work and get on in life.”

The extensions to his Plan for Jobs schemes, first announced in July 2020, comes shortly after figures revealed how they have struggled to reach the numbers first hoped.

A progress report for the Plan for Jobs was published last month and revealed that “more than 85,000 apprentices have been newly hired as a result of new incentive payments”.  Funding for around 100,000 new starts was set aside in the Plan for Jobs.

The cash incentives were first introduced by Sunak in August 2020 and offered firms £2,000 to take on apprentices aged 16 to 24, while those that employ new apprentices aged 25 and over are paid £1,500. They were increased to £3,000 for all apprentices in February of this year.

Only 76,900 young people have actually started Kickstart jobs, according to latest figures, with 196,300 roles in total made available to date.

The scheme launched in September last year with £2 billion set aside to create 250,000 jobs by the end of 2021.

It has been reported in some quarters that businesses had found the scheme overly “complex, bureaucratic and slow” to use.

The government said as part of its Kickstart extension, it will continue to accept applications from employers and gateway providers until 17 December 2021.

Specific funding for each measure extended by the chancellor will be confirmed at the Spending Review on 27 October.  It is hoped that the specific funding confirmation will be coupled with clearer, simpler guidance to allow employers and candidates to maximise the opportunities created.

Mr Sunak also announced a further investment to support 2000 elite A.I. scholarships for disadvantaged young people and double the number of Turing A.I. world-leading research fellows, to tackle social mobility challenges in entering the UK’s progressive technology industry.

A significant takeaway from this speech from an employment law perspective for businesses recruiting apprentices and young workers, alongside investing in those employees is to ensure they have the proper legal foundations to recruit, engage, train and retain new staff. 

This will enable businesses and their people to obtain the greatest benefit from this latent tranche of Government funding.

For a free consultation on any employment law issue or a review of your employment law foundations that could help your business take full advantage of the Kickstart scheme contact our specialist legal team on legal@lexleyton.co.uk

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