In an effort to stem youth unemployment in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic, Chancellor Rishi Sunak yesterday announced a £2bn ‘kickstart job scheme’ as part of his summer statement of budget commitments.
Open for employer applications from August, this Government fund will subsidise six-month work placements for those living on Universal Credit who are between the ages of 16 and 24, and therefore vulnerable to the risks of long-term unemployment. For each ‘kickstarter’ job created, the Government will cover the cost of 25 hours’ work a week at the National Minimum Wage, which amounts to £4.55 for under 18s, £6.45 for 18 to 20-year-olds and £8.20 for those aged 21 to 24. Employers will then be able to top-up that payment if they wish.
Set to help an estimated 350,000 people, the announcement comes after numerous reports have suggested that young people are likely to shoulder the burden of COVID-19’s economic impact, with the number of 16 to 24-year-olds claiming unemployment related benefits in recent months having risen by more than 250,000 to 506,305.
Bhanu Dhir, Chief Executive of Steps To Work, commented: “This announcement by the Chancellor of the Exchequer will be welcome news for hundreds of thousands of young people throughout the country, many of whom work in sectors that have been profoundly affected by the pandemic.
“According to the Office for National Statistics, the number of young people claiming unemployment benefits has risen by 109% since March. Effective intervention and investment in outreach programmes, such as those we deliver, will be critical to preventing catastrophic levels of long-term youth unemployment. Whilst the Kickstart Scheme marks a positive commitment towards addressing these issues, it is vital that every job created offers meaningful training and experience, based on the needs and talent of each individual, so that every young person can access sustainable, meaningful and rewarding employment opportunities. Investing in our young people now will yield significant benefits when we most need them.”
For more information about the employability support services that Steps To Work provide, please visit: www.stepstowork.co.uk/services-we-offer.