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Kickstart Scheme – Guide For Employers

The “Kickstart Scheme” is a Government initiative that provides funding to employers to create job placements for 16 to 24 year olds who are on Universal Credit or “deemed to be at risk of long-term unemployment” following the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Which employers are eligible?

The scheme is open to any organisation, but there are important restrictions that apply to placements. 

Job placements must:

  • be a minimum of 25 hours per week
  • last for 6 months
  • pay at least the NMW or NLW for the employee’s age group
  • require only basic training.

Importantly, job placements must be new jobs.  The funding cannot be used for placements that replace existing vacancies or are a means of causing existing employees to lose work or reduce their existing hours.

Once an employer has created a job placement, it can be taken up by another young person once the first successful candidate has completed their six-month term.

Which individuals are eligible?

Job placements are only available for candidates who are referred to the employer by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). Once the employer’s application for the scheme is successful, they must send the DWP job descriptions. The DWP then refers suitable candidates to the employer who can interview them and decide which to offer placements to.

How to apply


In January 2021, the Government removed a limit that previously required employers to create a minimum of 30 job placements before they could apply directly for the scheme. From 3 February 2021, employers became able to apply to the scheme directly without needing the 30-placement minimum:

In the application, the employer must provide the Government with quite a lot of information, including any redundancies in the past 6 months and alternative sources of funding for jobs.

Via a gateway

There are 600 “Kickstart gateways” through which employers can apply for the scheme:

Gateways include local authorities and chambers of commerce.  They can help provide a local connection and support with utilising the scheme.

What will you receive

Employers who are accepted onto the scheme will receive a letter and a grant agreement, which they must sign and return before any job placements can begin.

Under the scheme, participating employers will receive Government funding for 100% of:

  • minimum auto-enrolment employer contributions,
  • relevant NMW; and
  • employer NICs;

for 25 hours a week for each eligible employee during the 6-month work placement. 

Employers also get £1,500 per job placement to be used for “setup costs” and supporting the young worker in developing “employability” skills, e.g. coaching on getting long-term work, CV writing skills, interview preparation, etc. The employer must first confirm that the young person has started work, is on their payroll and is being paid via PAYE before it can receive the setup costs payment.

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