Rules for Kickstart jobs scheme simplified

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Rules for Kickstart jobs scheme simplified

Rules for UK’s £2bn Kickstart jobs scheme simplified to clear logjams.

Thousands of applications stuck in pipeline, with only 2,000 young people starting placements to date
The UK government is trying to increase take-up of its £2bn Kickstart jobs scheme, after criticism from small businesses forced to delay work placements for young people due to administrative logjams.

The scheme, modelled on a programme that ran after the 2008 recession, is the flagship measure in chancellor Rishi Sunak’s plans to avert mass joblessness due to the coronavirus crisis.

Kickstart job scheme update

Set to run to the end of 2021, it pays employers to create six-month work placements for those aged 16-24 at risk of long-term unemployment. Rules for Kickstart jobs scheme simplified to clear logjams and create hundreds of thousands of jobs for the young people hit by the pandemic.

But four months after the scheme opened to applications, only 2,000 young people have started placements, according to figures provided by the Department for Work and Pensions. This is partly because the renewed national lockdown has forced some employers to put placements on hold, but also because thousands of applications have been stuck in the pipeline for weeks, say business groups.

The DWP said on Monday that applications for 120,000 placements had now been approved, and it was opening the scheme to direct applications from small employers, scrapping a previous rule under which anyone creating fewer than 30 placements had to apply through an intermediary, or “gateway”.

One initial obstacle to small businesses and community organisations trying to create Kickstart placements appears to have been DWP’s use of Spotlight — an automated due-diligence tool developed by the Cabinet Office to screen applications — leading to a high proportion being rejected up front without explanation.
DWP guidance to employers states that the department has “recently improved the assessment process to allow more flexibility when considering applications”.

A spokesperson for the DWP said staff had also been redeployed internally to clear the backlog of applications, and that despite the national lockdown, 33,000 of the 120,000 placements created were now available for candidates to begin immediately.

Source: Financial Times