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Get Britain hiring: The startup guide to the government’s Kickstart Scheme

*Update 01/02/21*

Good news. More than 120,000 jobs for 16 to 24 year olds have now been created through the government’s flagship Kickstart Scheme. Better still, they’re making it even simpler for employers of all sizes to benefit from joining the scheme by removing the limit requiring they create a minimum of 30 vacancies to apply directly. This change comes into effect on the 3rd February 2021.

This is really promising as it’s clear SME uptake in 2020 was tempered by the original criteria put in place.

For startups, scale ups and established tech companies wanting to get involved, all the details are here. 


What is it? 

The Kickstart Scheme is a £2bn programme which aims to create over 300,000 jobs for young people in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis. The scheme targets 16-24 year olds who receive universal credit or are at risk of long-term unemployment. In a nutshell, the government will cover the wages and national insurance contributions for new, minimum wage employees working 25 hours a week at your company. A perfect opportunity for startups and SMEs to Get Britain Hiring again, right? Well….. Yes, but it might not be as easy as it sounds. Here’s the lowdown. 

Does my startup qualify for Kickstart scheme funding?  

Yes. If you’re a limited company operating in the U.K, you should be eligible. Funding is available for 100% of the relevant national minimum wage for 25 hours a week. In addition, associated employer National Insurance contributions and employer minimum automatic enrolment contributions are taken care of. Happy days. There is also £1,500 per job placement on offer to cover setup costs, support and training. 

Key points to think about if you’re considering applying to the kickstart scheme:  

  • Employers who take part will need to provide training and support for people to find a permanent job. The aim of the scheme is to help improve job prospects and the role will need to reflect this.
  • You’ll need to prove these are ‘new’ roles. The government will do their best to make sure existing jobs aren’t replaced with cheaper labour through the kickstart scheme. 
  • As above, applications must be for a minimum of 30 placements. This will likely mean you will need to link up with other organisations. The government suggests these can be similar employers, local authorities, trade bodies and registered charities. If you’re a startup, you might want to think about teaming up with other companies in your investment cohort, buddying up with other companies in your local authority, joining a Local Enterprise Partnership or just asking your founder mates. I’d be surprised if some of the more heavyweight VC’s and incubators in London like Balderton, Accel & Seedcamp didn’t put the wheels in motion to support companies in their fund with efforts to bring on 30+ young, new recruits.    
  • Each application should include how you will help the participants to develop their skills and experience, including:
    • support to look for long-term work, including career advice and setting goals
    • support with CV and interview preparations
    • supporting the participant with basic skills, such as attendance, timekeeping and teamwork.
  • Once a job placement is created, it can be taken up by a second person once the first successful applicant has completed their 6-month term. 

Is there any other funding available for business taking on staff this autumn?

The chancellor also announced £1.1bn in funding for training and apprentices. This includes:

  • An extra £2,000 for startups or SME’s hiring an apprentice under the age of 25 
  • £1,500 for apprentices over the age of 25, which will be available until January 2021. More details on the government website.

How to apply

  • If you’re applying to take on 30 placements you can apply directly via the government website 
  • If you’re looking to partner with other organisations you will need to become (or appoint) a representative for your group. A scout leader, a team captain, a chief ‘cat herder’ if you will. More guidance is offered here. We’re aware of some members of the startup community like Coadec are already on the case.

You can find out more about the Kickstart Scheme on the government website or feel free to @adzuna on twitter for more advice and guidance.