26 Jan 2021
Following today’s announcement of changes to the government Kickstart scheme, St Helens Chamber is reaffirming its’ ability to help local businesses to access a scheme designed to provide vital opportunities to young people.
Kickstart, which was officially launched in September as a way to support business to offer paid placements to young people struggling to find work, offered great promise to businesses and young people alike. However, local businesses who rallied to offer opportunities are being left waiting for their vacancies to be filled.
Tracy Mawson, Chief Executive at St Helens Chamber, explains: “When the scheme launched, government rules stated that larger firms offering 30 or more placements could apply directly for Kickstart, but other businesses with fewer vacancies should go through their local Gateway.
“Our application to be a gateway provider for St Helens was submitted immediately and local firms started coming to us to pledge opportunities, however the government had clearly not put the behind-the-scenes mechanisms in place to manage the programme effectively and it took until mid-December for us to get approval to start submitting local vacancies to DWP.
“Over a month later we still have a number of businesses waiting to receive approval for their placements, and the placements which have been approved are still not live for young people to apply to.
“Today we are calling on the government to provide a cast iron guarantee that DWP will prioritise clearing the back log of placements already in the system. The Kickstart Scheme still has enormous potential, so we would encourage businesses and young job seekers not to lose heart.”
As a Kickstart Gateway St Helens Chamber deals with the complex DWP application process on behalf of businesses and can also provide a package of wrap-around support for the employer and young person, making the whole process easier.
Neil and Ginny Taylor from Wind in the Willows Childcare Ltd is one local business who has already accessed the Kickstart Scheme using the Chamber as their Gateway. They said: “We were impressed by the excellent level of support offered to assist with recruitment process, including sifting applicants and taking the hassle out of applying directly to DWP. The high level of training on offer will also ensure that the young people are well equipped to add value to our organisation from day one. Knowing that the Chamber will handle the full process for us gives us the reassurance that we will be compliant with all DWP requirements.”
St Helens Chamber will continue to act as a Kickstart Gateway organisation for local businesses, and along with the wider Chamber of Commerce network will lobby government to improve the efficiency of the scheme and urgently start making good on their commitments to provide opportunities for young people by getting them matched into placements.
To find out more about the Kickstart scheme and how St Helens Chamber can help, visit: https://www.sthelenschamber.com/business/kickstarter-scheme