Local businesses within St Albans are being called upon to register for the government’s Kickstart Scheme – an initiative which provides funding ‘to create job opportunities’ for young people aged between 16-24. The grant covers 100% of the national minimum wage for a 25-hour working week, employer National Insurance payments and automatic enrolment contributions. There is then potential for additional funding to help ‘Kickstart workers’ progress into continuous employment.
The government programme offers six-month placements to individuals on Universal Credit, or those ‘at risk’ from ‘long-term unemployment.’ Furthermore, it is one element of Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s wider Plan for Jobs measures, ‘to spur the UK’s’ economic ‘recovery’ from coronavirus. The aim is to establish several ‘new’ and ‘fully funded jobs’ throughout England, Scotland and Wales.
St Albans City and District Council is supporting the plan as part of the Jobs Forum it has formed with various associates, to deal with ‘the anticipated rise in unemployment’ following Covid-19. The partnership involves representatives from Job Centre Plus, St Albans Chamber of Commerce, Oaklands College, St Albans BID and St Albans Enterprise Agency.
St Albans BID (Business Improvement District) is ‘registered as an intermediary’ for the government scheme, and has ‘already applied’ for funding towards 30 Kickstart positions on ‘behalf of’ local companies. In addition, it is engaging with St Albans Chamber of Commerce ‘to help its members take advantage’ of the programme. The district council itself also ‘hopes’ to offer placements, and is raising ‘awareness of the scheme among its contractors.’ Finally, Communities 1st has become ‘an intermediary’ for those in the voluntary sector.
Councillor Mandy McNeil, Portfolio Holder for Business, Tourism and Culture, said:
“This is a great chance for local companies and not-for-profits to take on some additional staff at no cost to themselves. They would also be giving a break to some of the District’s young people whose lives have been so disrupted by the public health emergency. I hope organisations from all sectors of our local economy will take people on so they can gain valuable workplace experience, new skills and training that will set them up for more permanent positions.”
Councillor McNeil who also chairs the Jobs Forum, stressed it had ‘never been more important’ for local businesses to become ‘adaptable and flexible,’ when attempting ‘to navigate these challenging circumstances.’ She added this was ‘an opportunity’ for employers to grow ‘their social media presence, expand markets’ along with performing administrative work ‘by taking on young people that they could otherwise not afford.’
The scheme is geared towards small or medium-sized businesses and charities, which can offer up to 30 job placements. It is anticipated that these positions will be available from November. Further information and details on how to apply are on the council’s website: https://www.stalbans.gov.uk/business-support-services