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Kickstart Programme Employers Guidance

Scheme background

The Kickstart Scheme was devised to provide new job placements for Young People aged 16 to 24 years old in receipt of Universal Credit, who are at risk of long term unemployment. Employers of all sizes can apply for funding which covers:

  • 100% of the National Minimum Wage (or the National Living Wage depending on the age of the Young Person) for 25 hours per week for a total of 6 months
  • The National Insurance contributions for each Young Person
  • Employer minimum automatic enrolment contributions

Employers can choose to top up the funding, so that the Kickstart employee is receiving National Living Wage, but this is not covered by the funding. Employers can also design the roles to work over 25 hours but would need to cover the difference between the funding and the total wage.

Employers can spread the start date of the job placements up until the end of December 2021.

Further funding is available to provide employability related support (please see below in the Kickstart funding section), so that the young people employed are more likely to achieve sustainable, long term employment following the end of the scheme.

Kickstart Scheme criteria

For job placements to be considered for Kickstart funding they must be new jobs. They must not:

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

The job placements must:

  • be a minimum of 25 hours per week, for 6 months
  • pay at least the National Minimum Wage or the National Living Wage for the employee's age group
  • only require basic training

For each job placement you must support the Young Person to develop their skills for employment this could include but is not limited to:

  • looking for long-term and sustainable work, including career advice and setting goals
  • support with curriculum vitae (CV) and interview preparations
  • helping to develop their skills for work in the employment setting

Apply for a Kickstart Scheme grant

You can apply for a Kickstart Scheme grant by either:

What is a Kickstart Gateway?

A Kickstart gateway is an organisation who already has a Kickstart Scheme grant agreement with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). They can add employers and job placements to this grant agreement and process them for you.

Kickstart gateways will:

  • gather information about the job placements you'd like to offer
  • share this information with DWP on your behalf
  • pay the funding to you (for example the Young Person's salary)

They can also offer to provide employability support to the Young People during their job placement on behalf of the businesses who apply through them. This would be most helpful to business who may struggle to provide this provision.

When applying as an employer to the Kickstart programme you will need:

  • your Companies House reference number or Charity Commission number if you have one
  • the organisation address and contact details
  • the details of each of the Kickstart Scheme job placements and their location
  • information to show that the job placements are new jobs and meet the Kickstart Scheme Criteria detailed above
  • to provide details about the employability support you will deliver to the Young People on the scheme if you choose to deliver this yourself. This can also be delivered by an external provider if that works better for your business.

The DWP will perform due diligence checks on all employers and Kickstart gateways who apply for the scheme, by performing Spotlight checks.


What is Spotlight?

Spotlight is a new tool to improve the management of grant applications. It has been purpose built by the Cabinet Office.

Spotlight saves processing time by performing automated due diligence checks on each Kickstart application. Spotlight checks large amounts of data to highlight areas for further investigation. Risks are emphasised to help grant administrators make better funding decisions. This saves time, improves decision making, and reduces the risk of fraud.

Spotlight is available across all government and public health bodies. For more information, email


Background Information which will be requested

You will need to inform DWP or your Kickstart gateway regarding:

  • how many employees you have
  • about 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
  • about 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 completed, started or paused in the last 6 months, including how similar these vacancies are or were to the roles you are creating for the Kickstart Scheme
  • the job placements will be similar to existing or planned roles or the roles previously done by those made redundant or with fewer working hours, 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

You will need to inform DWP or your Kickstart gateway regarding:

  • what support will be offered (for example helping Young People with writing their CV and preparing for an interview)
  • when you will provide this support (for example halfway through their job placement or towards the end)
  • how many hours it will take
  • who will provide the support (for example you may already have a pre-existing relationship with training providers)
  • how you will monitor this support
  • how the young person can provide feedback during their job placement and afterwards, and how this will be acted on

After you have applied

  • the DWP or your Kickstart gateway will email you with a decision on the application within a month of your initial application
  • the job placements do not exist until the application has been approved and you have signed the grant agreement with DWP or your Kickstart gateway

Kickstart Funding

For each job placement the employer receives:

The employer will receive £1,500 funding per job placement provided. This payment is to cover setup costs and to provide support to the Young Person to develop their employability skills. If another provider delivers this for you, you will need to reach an agreement on how this funding is distributed.

For each job placement the Gateway receives:

Kickstart gateways will receive £360 for each job placement to cover admin costs. They may have to pay VAT on this amount depending on their individual circumstances. This is to cover the processing costs for the roles which as employer you want the Gateway to process. This is not received as an employer as this fee is designed to cover costs incurred by the Gateway when processing on behalf of employers.

If they do not pay VAT, £60 from this payment will be paid to you by the Kickstart gateway (in addition to the £1,500 funding) to further support the young person.

The distribution of funding

  • if you apply as an employer online, the DWP will send the funding for setup costs, employability support and wages directly to you.
  • if you apply through a Kickstart gateway, DWP will send the funding for setup costs, employability support and wages to them. The Kickstart gateway will be responsible for sending the funding to you.
  • if you apply directly, the £1500 setup and employability support costs will be paid when you tell the DWP that the young person has started the job placement.
  • if you apply through a Kickstart gateway, you need to tell them when the young person starts their job placement. They can then send you the £1,500 setup costs.
  • if you get someone else to do some of the job placement setup or employability support for you, you'll have to agree how you will share this money.

Who can I ask to support me to provide the employability support?

  • apply through a Gateway who offers support to deliver the employability support
  • approach a local training provider who will agree to provide the employability support at an agreed cost

Monitoring and reporting

The employer's general responsibilities are:

  • monitor the delivery and success of the employability support
  • provide the DWP or Gateway with assistance to establish whether funding has been used in line with the terms and conditions
  • to allow the DWP or Gateway reasonable access to evaluate the fulfillment of employers' commitment to providing the employability support to the Kickstart employees

Employers must inform the DWP or Gateway if:

  • a Kickstart employee ends or will end their employment before the end of their six month placement
  • a Kickstart employee is unable to carry out meaningful employment during the six month period because they are on furlough, for example

The Employer must notify the Gateway as soon as possible and, in any event, within two working days of becoming aware of:

  • any actual or potential failure of the employer to comply with any of its obligations under this Kickstart Employer Agreement, which includes those caused by any administrative, financial or managerial difficulties
  • any event which affects the continued accuracy of information the employer has provided to the Gateway for inclusion in the Gateway's grant application

Kickstart funding is subject to stringent monitoring and reporting requirements, which the employer is responsible for ensuring they follow. Failure to do so can result in some, or all of the funding being repaid. For further guidance please see the Governments Kickstart webpage.

Kickstart Scheme wages and related costs

The DWP will use information from HMRC to check that the young person is employed. The grant funding to pay the young person's salary will be paid in monthly arrears when the DWP know they are:

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

Getting the young people into the job placements

Kickstart Scheme job placements are only available for Universal Credit claimants aged 16 to 24 who are referred to you by DWP.

If your application is successful:

1.    You or your Kickstart gateway will give DWP job descriptions that work coaches at Jobcentre Plus will use

2.    The work coaches will match suitable candidates to the job placements

3.    You'll then be able to interview the candidates matched to your job placements

4.    You'll select the candidate best suited to the role

Add more job placements to your grant agreement

  • you can add more job placements to your grant agreement after it has been approved. You do not need to apply again
  • the additional job placements will be assessed to make sure they meet the Kickstart Scheme criteria
  • if you applied directly, get in touch with for information about how to add more job placements to your grant agreement
  • if you applied through a Kickstart gateway, tell them you'd like to add more job placements to the grant agreement. They will contact DWP to arrange this

N.B. All information has been taken from and was correct at time of release in February 2021.

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