Only 77,000 out of 250,000 people have started on the Kickstart scheme with only three months left to run – and the deadline for starting placements will now be shifted to March 2022
The Tories’ flagship back-to work Covid scheme has been extended after firms struggled to fill the roles quickly enough.
Firms will now be able to start Kickstart placements until 31 March 2022 – a delay of three months, ministers have announced.
Launched a year ago, the £2bn scheme helps firms offer six-month work placements to 16-24 year olds on Universal Credit who are at risk of long-term unemployment.
The state covers 100% of the minimum wage for 25 hours a week and firms, which can top up wages, get a £1,000 admin fee.
But the government’s pledge to offer 250,000 placements collapsed amid repeated lockdowns in the first six months of Kickstart.
Just 1,868 young people had started job placements under the scheme as of mid-January, with Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey admitting it had been a “slow start” and there was a “backlog”.
Tonight the Tories say more than 77,000 people have now started Kickstart job placements, with 3,600 more starting each week.
While the government will still only accept applications up to December 17, the deadline to start the placements has been extended.
Announcing the extension, Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: “At the start of this crisis I made a promise to do whatever it takes, and I’m ready to double down on that promise now as we come out of this crisis.
“The first phase of our Plan for Jobs has worked, protecting 11 million jobs through the furlough scheme and now we are experiencing one of the strongest and fastest recoveries of any major economy in the world.
“But the job is not done yet and I want to make sure our economy is fit for the future and that means providing the support and skills people need to get into work and get on in life.”
The extension is part of a £500million package announced by Mr Sunak at Tory conference, where he speaks Monday lunchtime.
The package also includes:
– Extending the Job Entry Targeted Support (JETS) scheme, which supports applicants with CV writing, interview skills, and job search advice, by another year to 30 September 2022.
– Extending the Youth Offer, which includes 13 weeks of intensive support for young people on Universal Credit, until the end of 2025. 16 and 17-year olds will also now be eligible.
– Extending the £3,000 bonus to employers for hiring apprentices by four months to 31 January 2022.
– Allowing all people in work on Universal Credit to access “some support” from a work coach.
– Introducing “more intensive, tailored support” for people aged 50-64 to find work in the first nine months of a Universal Credit claim.
– Prioritising people who’ve just come off furlough in the Job Finding Support scheme, which ends on December 31.
But Mr Sunak will press ahead with the £20-a-week cut to Universal Credit – which experts believe will plunge hundreds of thousands of children into poverty.
Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Jonathan Reynolds said: “The Government’s struggling Plan for Jobs has failed to hit its original targets; it is not creating the number of jobs needed and has failed to address the supply chain crisis Britain is experiencing.
“Giving himself an extended deadline will do nothing to compensate for the Chancellor’s tax rises, cost of living crisis and cuts to Universal Credit which are set to hammer millions of working families.”