Last updated: September 2021
Kickstart is a UK government Scheme that provides funding to employers to create job placements for 16 to 24 year olds. The government will provide a grant to fund the national minimum wage for 25 hours per week for a six month contract plus Employers National Insurance Contributions and automatic enrollment contributions for each candidate placed.
Here at KickstartGo, we have built this digital platform with the intention of removing all of the hassle and bureaucracy from small businesses who would like to make use of the Kickstart Scheme, but don’t know where to start. Our automated digital portal allows you to manage the whole process easily. We have been a Kickstart Gateway for over one year and have gained valuable experience and knowledge to help you through your journey of navigating the Kickstart scheme. To get a broader context of the scheme and see some great success stories, you can have a look at our twitter account here.
We have tried to collate all of the information you as an employer need to know about the government’s Kickstart Scheme, producing this guide that explains:
- Qualifying criteria you as an employer need to fulfil
- The application process
- Job postings and finding candidates
- Funding payments processing and what to expect including a breakdown of our costs
- Summary of timelines and expectations
The Kickstart Scheme is a fantastic opportunity for us all to help in investing in young people’s future. We hope that with our help, you will be able to navigate the process seamlessly and let us worry about the administration overhead.
The scheme is available to all businesses that are registered in England, Wales or Scotland.
What is a representative or gateway and what is their role?
A representative or gateway is approved by the government to act as an intermediary between themselves and employers. Their responsibilities are:
- Gather information from the employer about job placements they’d like to offer
- Use this information to apply online on behalf of a group of employers
- Pay employers the funding
- Provide additional employability support for candidates
What KickstartGo will do for you as your gateway representative:
- We will facilitate connecting employers with candidates by collecting all the required information and submitting an application on your behalf and liaising with the DWP.
- Provide employability support for both employers and candidates by offering a wealth of free training available at KickstartGo
- We will administer the payments processing between the DWP and employer
- Provide a dedicated email@example.com mailbox for you to get in touch with
Here at KickstartGo, we recognise that navigating the process can seem quite daunting but that is where we come in. We are here to support you by managing the administration including the payments processing so that you can focus on finding the right candidate.
If you want to get in touch, even if it is just to say hello, you can reach us on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Qualifying criteria you as an employer needs to fulfil
In order to meet the government’s requirements in becoming an employer, checks are performed to show your organisation is established, reputable and financially solvent. You are more likely to be approved if you:
- Provide your Companies House reference number or Charity Commission number
- Your business needs to have been trading for a while
- Regularly and recently submitted accounts
- Have a credit score which is a low risk category
- Have a low probability of imminent business failure
- Have enough liquid assets to pay your debts
- Do not have any recent county court judgments (CCJs)
These factors are taken into consideration when the DWP assess your application. Failing one or more does not mean you will not be approved. See the tips for making a successful application on the government site.
- Your business address and contact details
- Supporting information about how the job placements you are offering are new jobs
It is important to note, we need to know that the job placements are for new jobs and do not:
- Replace existing or planned vacancies
- Cause existing employees, apprentices or contractors to lose or reduce their employment
You can do this by confirming:
- There have been no redundancies or changes to hours worked by existing staff in the last 6 months
- There have been no changes to the size of your overall workforce in the last 6 months apart from normal staff movements
- That you do not have alternative funding available to you that would normally fund the new positions
As of March 2021, a new employee to placements ratio verification check is applied. This check is used to ensure that the candidates employed are given the support they require by ensuring there are sufficient staff employed by the organisation to provide this. The ratio is tiered as follows:
- 1 – 3 employees = 1:1 ratio (minimum 1, maximum 3 placements)
- 4 – 20 employees = 2:1 ratio (minimum 1, maximum 10 placements)
- 21+ employees = 3:1 (minimum 1, maximum 100 placements)
If the application exceeds the ratio thresholds, then supporting information is required to explain how the employability support will be provided to the candidates.
You also need to confirm that as an employer, you will help develop employability skills of the candidates you employ. Here at KickstartGo, we have a comprehensive set of training packages on offer, the vast majority are free, to help you as an employer fulfil this requirement. To view what is available, please check our KickstartGo website regularly for any updates to what is available to you.
When you submit your application to us, you will be asked to accept our terms if you agree that you have read the KickstartGo Kickstart Employer Guide (this one) and agree that you meet the qualifying criteria detailed above, and that KickstartGo will act as your Representative Organisation / Intermediary gateway. Please see our online terms and conditions for an up to date version.
Upon the government accepting your role, you will need to sign an additional set of terms and conditions which have been provided by the government that confirms the arrangement between employers and gateways. This will commence the process of your grant claims from the government.
The Kickstart Scheme process
The Kickstart process is divided into three high level stages which are explained below:
Application and approval
We have tried to streamline the application process by presenting it as a series of questions for you to answer. Your answers will provide the necessary data and with your acceptance of our terms, we will put your application forward.
The series of questions you are asked are grouped into the following sections:
- Questions about you, your business and contact details
- We then ask you to confirm that the jobs you are posting are new jobs and that you have read the requirements stipulated by the government
- Once confirmed, we then ask you for details about the roles you are posting
- Next is where you confirm what career development advice you will provide to the candidate and also an opportunity to provide any additional information that you feel may help with your application
- Finally, we ask that you accept our terms and conditions agreeing that KickstartGo will act as your Representative Organisation / Intermediary gateway
As soon as you have completed the online application, it will be processed and included in the current open batch of roles pending submission to the DWP.
Once your application has been submitted at KickstartGo, you will receive an email containing information on providing additional job information. This is needed so that when we receive the approval notification from the DWP, we are able to get your job description(s) published to the Universal Credit system where work coaches at job centres will match suitable candidates and refer them to apply.
DWP application outcome – approved or declined
The DWP conduct their due diligence on applications submitted and will either approve or decline the application. If the application is approved, the employer will receive an email requesting that they confirm they have provided the additional job information and to digitally sign the terms and conditions.
Jobs publishing, recruitment and placing candidates
In order to stand out, we highly recommend that you spend a bit of time writing the job description. Please see our guide on how to write the right job description which will improve your chances of hiring the right candidate.
Once your job postings are submitted, the job descriptions are used by work coaches at Jobcentre Plus to match suitable candidates. This is why it is important to write the right job description that helps you stand out.
Some guidance we have received from the DWP when writing your job description:
- Make sure that the job description is as simple and accurate as possible
- Add a few examples of what the role entails in the job summary
- Think about what qualification criteria you put on the candidate, so that your job can reach as many candidates as possible, ideally you should be looking for someone who is eager to learn and with maybe a few desirable qualifications/experience.
- Consider what is the easiest path for candidates to apply (for example not all candidates will have a CV), we suggest putting in a simple “email us at (enter your email details) to apply for the role.”
- Remember the DWP will reimburse 25 hours of national minimum wage for 6 months, you can offer more hours, or more pay, but you need to fund that yourselves.
There are a couple of points to note when providing the additional job information:
- When setting the closing date for applications, please consider the timings involved and set it to a suitable date in the future. We recommend setting it to a minimum of 6 weeks from today.
- When setting the maximum number of referrals, we are seeing a “hit rate” of referrals to applications of around 10:1 so would recommend setting this to a minimum of 15.
If you are approved, we will ask you to digitally sign the Kickstart Scheme terms and conditions. Once signed, we will send the job descriptions to the DWP for publishing to the Universal Credit system.
Once published, work coaches at the Jobcentre’s will match suitable candidates and refer them to apply.
For each referral, you will receive an email containing the candidates name, an Introduction ID and instructions on what you need to do when placing a candidate.
Candidates will get in touch directly to apply for the vacancy.
Placing a candidate and what you need to do
Once a candidate is placed, there are two things the employer needs to do within the first week of the candidates start date:
- Notify the DWP as per the instructions contained in the referral email of the placement start date, the candidates name and their Introduction ID. This is needed so that the DWP can process the funding and send the initial £1,500 funding payment.
- Update your job records in the KickstartGo portal with the same information. This is needed so that we can reconcile the funding received from the DWP with the placement and pass the funding on to the employer.
Funding payments processing and what to expect including a breakdown of our costs
Please note, the DWP operate a REIMBURSEMENT MODEL so the employer needs to have sufficient cashflow to cover the wages payment that will then be reimbursed by the DWP.
In our experience, you need to have cash flow available to continuously fund up to 2 months wages before receiving the reimbursement payments.
Kickstart Scheme wages and related costs for employers
Kickstart scheme wages and costs are paid to the gateway who passes it directly on to the employer. This fund covers:
- 100% of the National Minimum Wage (or the National Living Wage depending on the age of the candidate) for 25 hours per week for a total of 6 months
- Associated employer National Insurance contributions
- Employer minimum automatic enrolment contributions
Employers can pay a higher wage and for more hours over the above if they so wish but the funding would not cover this.
When your employee commences their employment with you, you will need to let us and the DWP know that they have started with you, according to the instructions in the candidate referral email.
The remittance is issued 10 working days after the placement start date. The funds arrive 5 working days after the remittance is received.
The employee’s wages will be reimbursed automatically approximately six weeks after the initial £1,500 payment, and monthly thereafter for the duration of the grant.
NOTE: DWP will use information from HMRC to check that the young person is employed and their wages paid through the employer’s payroll. The reimbursement payments will be paid monthly in arrears when the DWP know they are:
- enrolled on the employer’s payroll
- being paid through Pay As You Earn (PAYE)
£1,500 employer candidate placement grant
Every job placement receives £1,500 funding for setup costs and supporting the young person to develop their employability skills.
The funding must be used in respect of “Eligible Expenditure”. This includes:
- set up costs for IT equipment and software licences, administration and management time and support with helping Participants develop work skills and experience (employability support)
- any uniform, equipment and Personal Protective Equipment as required; and
‘Employability Support’ must include on-the-job training, work search support, skills development, mentoring, careers advice and other related support to help Participants find sustained employment after they have completed the Kickstart Scheme.
Eligible Expenditure also includes fees charged or to be charged to the Grant Recipient by external auditors/accountants for reporting/certifying that the Grant paid was applied for its intended purposes.
More information on Eligible Expenditure can be found here.
This payment is made once the candidate starts their placement.
£300 KickstartGo candidate placement grant
Kickstart gateways will all receive a one-off £300 payment per placement to cover the administration costs.
This payment is made once the candidate starts their placement.
Funding and costs summary
|Funding||KickstartGo Receives||Employer Receives|
|Employer candidate placement grant – £1,500||£1,500|
|KickstartGo candidate placement grant – £300||£300||–|
|Employee wages||100% National minimum wage
Employer National Insurance contributions
Employer minimum automatic enrolment contributions
Summary of timelines and expectations
Placing a candidate timeline
To set expectations, the process is currently taking 8 – 12 weeks before being able to place any candidates in your roles, once we submit our batch. The summary of the various stages is as follows:
- Periodically we submit a batch of applications to the DWP.
- The DWP will then conduct their due diligence on the submitted applications and either approve or decline it. They have informed us that they will take up to a month to complete this process. From past submissions, we are seeing this is currently taking 3 – 7 weeks.
- Once we receive the roles approval notification from the DWP, we request employers to confirm that you have completed their job description edits and to digitally sign terms and conditions.
- As soon as employers have digitally signed the terms and conditions, we send the job descriptions to the DWP for publishing to the Universal Credit system. From what we are seeing, this is currently taking 1 – 2 weeks.
- Once a job is published to the Universal Credit system, work coaches at the various Jobcentre’s will match suitable candidates and refer them to apply for your role. Any candidates that apply, will then go through the employers standard selection and hiring process.
- Funding timelines are as above.
What else should I know?
At the end of the 6 month placement, it is up to you as the employer what to do next – there is no obligation. For example you could retain your candidate and offer them a permanent role at the same or more hours, or you could simply end the employment.
You must adhere to normal employment and business practices, and provide all the relevant employment contracts, health and safety requirements etc. in your work place.
You can find all the government information here: https://kickstart.campaign.gov.uk