Updated Information on how small businesses and the self-employed can weather Covid 19 – September 14th, 2020

Earlier in July, the Chancellor announced a scheme called the Kickstart Scheme that would help get young people who are at risk of long term unemployment back into work. THis scheme was also going to help businesses to recover from the effects of Covid 19.

However, on Sept 2nd, when the scheme was officially launched, the government stated that in order for a business to be able to take advantage of this scheme, they had to provide 30 positions. While this would be easy enough for large businesses to do, this puts a lot of small and medium-sized businesses at a disadvantage. Various organisations have come together to help these smaller businesses by creating a hub so that lots of small businesses can join together and be able to hire staff through the Kickstart Scheme. You will need to check your local area as to which hubs are working to help facilitate the scheme – but good places to start are your local Chamber of Commerce, Growth Hubs, your local Council and even your accountant/bookkeeper.

What does the scheme do?

The Kickstart Scheme is designed to help young people aged between 16 and 24 who are claiming Universal Credit to find employment for a 6-month period. During their employment, the employee should be developing the skills and experience needed to find work after they have completed their 6-month placement.

How does it work?

The government will cover all of the costs related to hiring someone through the scheme for a 6-month period. After that time, if you wanted to keep the employee on, you would need to fund their employment yourself as they will no longer be part of the Kickstart scheme. They will fund 100% of the National Minimum Wage for that employee for 25 hours/week, all employer NI contributions and the minimum employer automatic enrolment contributions. The employer can also apply for an additional amount of £1,500 per job placement to help with setup costs, support and training. The additional grant should be paid to you within 7 days of the placement being accepted.

As the employer, you would be required to pay out all of the payroll costs first, and then you would claim these back through the scheme – evidence will be required to prove that the employee is still employed as well as all of the costs. Currently, the employer would claim for the costs every 2 months, but this is continually under review and various business groups are hoping to have this time period lowered, as originally it was going to be that the employer would need to fund all of the costs until the end of the 6-month placement.

It would be the employer’s responsibility to ensure that they are set up as an employer with HMRC and have a pension scheme set up. The employer would also be liable for all of the costs associated with running a payroll scheme – however, the additional grant of £1,500 could be used to offset these costs.

Once a 6-month placement has been completed, you can hire another person through the Kickstart Scheme to fulfil that role.

The employer would need to supply a job description outlining what the position entails and this would then be advertised to any eligible participant through the DWP (if you are going through a hub, they would be your point of contact). Once an employer has received the applications, it will be their responsibility to go through the process of interviews and hiring the employee. If an employer hires an employee, they would notify their point of contact and the process of filling the role and applying for the additional grant will be completed.

The Kickstart Scheme is going to be running until December 2021 and you can use the scheme for as long as you are eligible.

Who can use the scheme?

The scheme is open to all businesses within England, Scotland and Wales. Depending on the size of your business, you can either apply directly to the government: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/check-if-you-can-apply-for-a-grant-through-the-kickstart-scheme or by going through one of the local hubs helping smaller businesses. To apply through a local hub, you would need to contact them directly to find out their process.

Businesses that would like to use the Kickstart Scheme must ensure that these job placements are not replacing existing or planned vacancies, or cause existing employees/contractors to lose or reduce their employment. The positions should also not require people to understand extensive training in order to begin the job placement.

Within your application to the scheme, you will need to demonstrate how you will help participants to develop their skills and experience in order to get long-term work after the placement ends. This can include things like career advice, setting goals, helping with CV and interview preparation, supporting them with basic skills (attendance, timekeeping and teamwork).

How do I become a facilitator?

If you would like to become a representative of a group of businesses so that you can share the 30 job placements between multiple businesses, you would need to apply to become a representative.

To be eligible for this type of position, you must have experience of managing partnership agreements with third parties and robust financial and governance processes to manage the application.

You can read more about how to become a representative by going here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/check-if-you-can-apply-for-a-grant-as-a-representative-of-a-group-of-employers-through-the-kickstart-scheme.

I am continually monitoring the updates that the government and other business-related departments release and will continue to share that information for as long as I feel that it is beneficial to all businesses in the UK.

The information and policies are continually being updated by the government, so I urge you to keep on top of the information by visiting the relevant website for your area.

Scotland: https://www.gov.scot/coronavirus-covid-19/
Wales: https://gov.wales/business-and-employers-coronavirus
Northern Ireland: https://www.nibusinessinfo.co.uk/

I will be trying to keep myself as informed as possible and will share relevant information on my fb business page: https://www.facebook.com/ihelmenterprises/

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