THE Government’s new Kickstart scheme is a £2 billion initiative aiming to create hundreds of thousands of high quality six-month work placements for young people aged 16 to 24 who are on Universal Credit and are deemed to be at risk of long-term unemployment.

It provides funding for each job at the relevant National Minimum Wage rate for 25 hours a week, plus the associated employer National Insurance contributions and employer minimum automatic enrolment contributions. There is also £1,500 per job placement available for setup costs, support and training.

In principle, the Federation of Small Businesses welcomed the introduction of the scheme, not least because the CV-19 pandemic has impacted hardest upon the job prospects of young people.

However we were disappointed that the scheme appears skewed towards larger businesses. As it stands, it supports those employers – or groups of employers – looking to create at least 30 opportunities.

This is well beyond the requirements or capabilities of most of this county’s micro and small businesses, which account for more than 98 per cent of all the enterprises in Worcestershire.

While businesses can group together to collectively meet the minimum number, the process is complicated by the need to work through intermediaries. This, coupled with the time it will take to hire 30 different employees across a range of different businesses is bound to introduce delays and increase costs.

Worcestershire’s 26,500 micro and small businesses – and young people desperate to find work – will be disappointed that this is another initiative where it is harder than expected for them to take part.

On a positive note, the Government assures us it wants to make Kickstart work for small employers. We are in discussions with them to highlight small business concerns.