Kickstart Scheme – Employers Guide

What is the Kickstart Scheme?

The Kickstart Scheme provides funding to create new job placements for 16 to 24 year olds on Universal Credit who are at risk of long term unemployment. Employers of all sizes can apply for funding which covers:

  • Wage subsidy – 100% of the National Minimum Wage for 25 hours per week for a total of 6 months. This includes associated employer National Insurance contribution & employer minimum automatic enrolment pension contributions.
  • Up to £1,500 per job placement for setup costs, support and training

Which employers can apply for the Kickstart Scheme?

The Kickstart Scheme is open to all employers. Organisations who are employing over 30 Kickstarters are able to apply directly to the Government for their funding. Organisations employing 29 or less will be required to go through a Kickstart Gateway like The Training Initiative.

What information will I need to provide?

When going through a Kickstart Gateway you’ll be required to provide information such as:

  • how many employees you have
  • any changes to your workforce in the last 6 months and why (for example redundancies and changes to hours worked by existing staff)
  • the number of people affected by changes to your workforce in the last 6 months
  • the kinds of roles, functions and average salary of those who were made redundant or who had their hours reduced in the last 6 months
  • if you would be able to create these job placements without Kickstart Scheme funding and what funding source you would use
  • what recruitment you have started, paused or completed in the last 6 months, including how similar these vacancies are or were to the roles you are creating for the Kickstart Scheme
  • if the job placements will be similar to existing or planned roles to the roles previously done by those made redundant or with fewer working hours and why you are using Kickstart Scheme funding to create similar roles
  • if you’ve engaged with any relevant trade unions and any advice the unions have given

Don’t panic though! At The Training Initiative, our Kickstart Specialists are on hand to help you every step of the way. You can complete an expression of interest here and we will be in touch with you to discuss your requirements.

How do employers apply for the Kickstart Scheme?

For employers who are able to commit to employing 30 or more Kickstarters, they can apply directly to the government. More information can be found here:

For those wanting to employ 29 or less, you’ll need to go through a Kickstarter Gateway such as The Training Initiative. The Kickstarter Gateway will work with you to identify what roles you have available and will apply for government funding on your behalf.

Your Kickstarter Gateway will be responsible for the administration of your Kickstarter funding for the duration of the Scheme. They may also be able to provide you with additional support with providing training and support for your Kickstarters, which is a mandatory requirement of the Scheme.

How many Kickstarters can I have?

There is no limit on the amount of Kickstarters you can have. But, there are rules about having them. The job placements created with Kickstart Scheme funding must be new jobs.

The job placements must not:

  • replace existing or planned vacancies
  • cause existing employees, apprentices or contractors to lose work or reduce their working hours.

You don’t have to take all your Kickstarters at once either. You’ll be able to stagger starts up until December 2021.

Will I be able to interview Kickstart candidates?

Yes you will. Once you’ve been approved for funding under the Kickstart Scheme you will need to send across any relevant job descriptions for the roles you are looking for (either directly to the DWP if you are adminstering the scheme yourself, or to your Kickstart Gateway who will handle this process for you).

At The Training Initiative we have a dedicated Kickstart Toolkit that you can download for free which includes templates and guidance to support the creation of job descriptions. You’ll also be given FREE access to our 16-24 Progression Portal to exclusively advertise your roles amongst learners on our vocational training programmes.

Once the DWP have your jobs, they’ll identify suitable candidates and forward their details on to arrange a job interview.

What am I required to pay a Kickstarter and how many hours can they work?

Kickstarters will be required to be employed for a minimum of 25 hours per week. You’ll be required to pay Kickstarters the revelant national minimum wage as listed in the table below. The government will fully cover these costs and the cost of national insurance and autoenrolment pension contributions.

25 and over£8.72£8.21
21 to 24£8.20£7.70
18 to 20£6.45£6.15
Under 18£4.55£4.35

Source: Acas website – information correct as of 26/10/2020

Kickstarters must work a minimum of 25 hours a week but are allowed to work more than this. You will have to cover the cost of these additional hours yourself. Please note, 16 & 17 year olds must not work more than 8 hours a day and 40 hours a week. More information can be found here:

For those over 18 the 48 hour average weekly limit will apply (more information can be found here:,the%20’working%20time%20regulations‘).

Can I pay Kickstarters more than the National Minimum Wage?

Yes absolutely! You can pay Kickstarters as much as you like above the national minimum wage. Please remember, you will only receive government funding for 25 hours which will be paid at the relevant national minimum wage rate.

How do I get my funding?

As mentioned above, if you’re employing over 30 Kickstarters you can apply directly to the Government for your funding.

For those employing 29 or less, you’ll need to apply through a Kickstarter Gateway like The Training Initiative. They will work with the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP). DWP will use information from HMRC to check that the Kickstarter is employed. Funding to pay the young person’s salary will be paid in monthly arrears when your Kickstarter Gateway knows they are:

  • enrolled on your payroll
  • paid through Pay As You Earn (PAYE)

What additional funding can I receive?

In addition to the grant you receive to cover the costs of employing a Kickstarter, you will be provided with a £1500 grant per Kickstarter.

This additional funding is provided to cover any set up costs of employing a Kickstarter. This might include equipment purchased to allow them to carry out their role. In addition to this, you’ll need to provide each Kickstarter with a programme of employability based training. This will typically include elements such as communication, applying for jobs and C.V. writing.

The Training Initiative can support you in providing this employability based training, aswell as any sector based training, that will benefit the Kickstarter and your organisation. For more information click here.

Is the Kickstart Scheme worth it for my organisation? Are there any negatives?

The short answer to this is that the scheme is definitely worth it for the majority of organisations. There are negatives however, that should be considered.

Given the people this scheme is designed to help 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. They will need on the job support.

You should consider and plan for the the time and resources you’ll need to put into mentoring, training and supporting this individual. 

So, 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.

Whilst you will need to invest time in Kickstart employees, there are clear benefits to organisations being able to recruit additional staff at no additional cost. At a time where COVID-19 has had a dramatic impact on revenue streams, this offer of support from the Government is fantastic and will be a lifeline for many businesses.

How can The Training Initiative help me find Kickstarters with the right skills?

We are highly experienced providers of vocational and employability based training programmes for individuals who are 16-24. Our bespoke WorkFIT employability programme will support Kickstarters on the job and develop those mandatory employability skills. We work with all employers to put in place programmes of training and support that not only benefit the Kickstarter, but also the organisation who is employing them.

We have sector specialists in:

  • Fitness
  • Digital Marketing
  • Construction
  • Logistics and Warehousing
  • Hospitality
  • Retail
  • Security
  • Beauty

Whatever sector you work in, we can provide you and your Kickstarter’s with the support you need. To start your journey today and secure your Kickstart funding, complete our expression of interest form and a Kickstart Specialist will be in touch to discuss your requirements.

More information on the Kickstart Scheme can be found on the government website.

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