As the Government steps up efforts to limit the likelihood of mass unemployment as the result of the coronavirus pandemic, many local authorities have received and distributed funding to small and medium-sized businesses in their regions.
A package of grants and financial support worth £20m was announced by Simon Clarke, Minister for Regional Growth and Local Government, at the beginning of August. Small and medium-sized businesses in England were able to access grants of between £1,000 – £5,000 in order to allow them to access new technology and equipment, as well as to access legal, financial and professional advice to help them to move forward.
This package also included the £2bn Kickstart Scheme, designed to encourage and support businesses in hiring young people, creating thousands of new jobs all over the country. The Government has also invested £1.6bn in expanding existing employment support schemes, training and apprenticeships, in an unprecedented attempt to help people looking for work in the UK.
Talking about the move, Simon Clarke said: “We have always said that we would stand behind our businesses and communities as we rebuild following the coronavirus pandemic. This new funding does exactly that.
“Businesses will be able to use these new grants to pay for the expertise, equipment and technology they need to adapt, recover and rebuild.
“Small and medium sized businesses are the beating heart of communities; they provide employment and contribute significantly to local economies and we are determined to give them the support they need to continue to thrive.”
In order to create jobs for young people who are on Universal Credit, and at risk of long-term unemployment, the Kickstart Scheme offers financial support to businesses who are in a position to create and offer job placements to young workers. These placements should be focused on teaching skills and experience that workers can use to secure further employment later on.
Funding provided as part of the Kickstart Scheme will cover 100% of the National Minimum Wage, any National Insurance contributions and employer’s minimum automatic enrolment contributions, on the basis of 25 hours a week employment. A further £1,500 is available per job, to pay for things like set-up costs, training and support.
Employers are required to offer a minimum of 30 placements in order to apply for the scheme, but are able to partner with other organisations to reach this 30 placement minimum if they are unable to offer the full number themselves.
Representatives applying on behalf of a group of organisations will receive a further £300 of funding, to help with administration costs.
Any business is able to apply for funding, as long as the 30 placement minimum is reached, and all jobs created are new. This means that any existing vacancies cannot be added to the new jobs, and they must not cause existing contractors or employees to lose their jobs.
Once the role is created, if a participant leaves an employer is allowed to hire a new candidate in the same role without losing support.
Job roles must be:
For a minimum of 25 hours per week, for a minimum of six months
Paid at National Minimum Wage for the age group of the employee
Roles that do not require extensive training in order to begin the placement
When making an application, employers are required to summarise how each placement will be beneficial to the participant, and help them to develop relevant skills or experience. This could include:
Support with CV and interview skills
Support with finding future employment, including setting goals
Providing the participant with basic on-the-job training, and teaching skills that will aid them in finding and maintaining future employment
The Kickstart Scheme is currently running and will be available until at least December 2021.
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