Kickstart Scheme: 6 ways to grow your business


There are many businesses in our local region (South East Midlands) that are looking to grow their business in 2021 and seek new opportunities.

However, the current pandemic is doing it’s very best to claw back on the budgets that businesses have set aside to push themselves forward, with this money being spent to ensure survival.

With most businesses suffering from several setbacks and limited resources (both financial and physical) it is therefore important to keep an eye on what the government is doing and support that they are providing for small to medium enterprises (SME’s) that make up some 95% of business.

Digital Future First provides a service, including the Kickstart scheme to help SME’s understand (and access) what’s on offer. 

It is a free to access service that is part funded by the European Social Fund which raises the profile of a range of grants, funded (and part funded) programmes, business incentives that can develop talent within a business and awareness of some technology solutions that SME owners may not be aware of. 

Since the Digital Future First project started in 2020 it has been clear that there are many business support grants that are going under the radar, with the Kickstart Scheme being one of them.

What is the Kickstart scheme?

The Kickstart Scheme is a fully funded government employment scheme that has been designed to help reduce the number of unemployed young people (aged 16 – 24) who are on Universal Credit. Any sized business can apply for this scheme, which will give them access to the following:

100% of the national minimum salary/living wage (based on the age of the applicant) for a minimum of 25 hours per week for a total of six months.
Associated employer national insurance contributions.
Employer minimum automatic enrolment contributions

Usually an employer needs to commit to a minimum of 30 roles within the business, however, one of the delivery partners with Digital Future First is a Gateway to the scheme and has reduced this barrier of entry to a minimum of one applicant needed, making the Kickstart Scheme application even simpler. 

Read on for our five reasons why you should use the Kickstart scheme to grow your business.

Reason 1 – Six months employment costs – funded*

Yes that is right, additional staff – funded by Government and working in your business, for six months!

* The minimum time an employee can work on the Kickstart Scheme is for 25 hours per week for 6 months. Based on the National minimum salary for a 24 year old, this translates as a total of £4,920 in working hours for the six month period – not including National Insurance and pension fees.

This is a serious helping hand for any small business owner, enabling growth within the business and presenting an opportunity to an individual on universal credit. Further funding is available following the completion of the kickstart scheme to enable the business to achieve sustained employment of the individual for the long term.

Reason 2 – up to £,1,500 Incentive to support placements

Six months employment is great but an additional cash incentive sounds even better…

Kickstart Gateways work with employers to ensure that the people employed through the Scheme are properly supported in their longer term employment needs.

This includes proof that placements are receiving direct help in areas such as job searches, CV’s, in-work learning and personal development.

It also includes paying for things that help young people do their jobs – for example, some businesses who have embarked on this scheme have used the money to purchase clothing, equipment or tools.

Some employers can provide all the support, mentoring/coaching and development needed, some are not able to do this at all and some can provide part of it.

The £1,500 incentive is a means to ensure that either the Gateway or the employer (or both) can support placements on the Scheme and the incentive is apportioned accordingly as agreed with the Gateway and the employer.

That means the Government is willing to hand out up to £6,400 per placement to business to help you grow, a staggering contribution from the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Reason 3 – Create opportunities for unemployed young people – the next generation of local business leaders!

2020 has been a horrific year and there are many people out there who are fighting for a chance to kick start their career (pardon the pun).

Comparing the last quarter (July-September 2020), with the pre-pandemic quarter (December 2019-February 2020), youth unemployment has increased by 17%, a staggering 88,000 more unemployed in the 18-24 age group.

This makes the jobs market incredibly competitive, especially for an age range that is deemed to have “not enough experience” in the workplace.

Employing someone on the Kickstart Scheme could give someone the restart they have been looking for and the motivation to go above and beyond within your business.

Reason 4 – Help with your customer service

All hands on deck during a busy trading period.

Providing product knowledge as part of your new employee’s training would enable them to contribute to your customer service efforts, for example, answering customer enquiry emails, managing a live chat and answering phone calls.

Not only does this add another body to the busy customer service team but it also gives the employee vital office experience, an essential skill at the start of an individual’s career.

Extensive product knowledge and a detailed understanding of your business’s sales process will put the employee in a strong position to secure permanent employment following the completion of the Kickstart Scheme.

Reason 5 – Using technology and social media…!

With further funding available post kickstart scheme, are you looking at your first social media manager?

This is the perfect opportunity to lay the foundations of a social media campaign and create a digital footprint for your business.

If you are a technological dinosaur (or just not sure how to use it !!) then the chances are your 18-24 kickstart employees will have twice the knowledge and time spent on social media platforms, and the six month period would give them the time to plan, create and post targeted content to your customers.

Social media provides a branded voice, affordable advertising and customer engagement, meaning businesses can no longer afford to avoid the networking platforms. Having an individual who can own this space and learn on the job will help increase the digital exposure, leading to further sales and new business opportunities.

Reason 6 – Helping out friends and family

We could all do with a helping hand once in a while.

You may know a friend or family member who has been hit hard financially by COVID-19.

But did you know that if they meet the eligibility criteria, (aged 16-24 and on universal credit) you may be able to obtain Kickstart Scheme funding to offer them a fully funded role in your business for six months.

This means you will be receiving free business support from the Government, reducing young unemployment in your community and helping out a loved one. A win-win situation.

Find out if you are eligible

Funding for the Kickstart Scheme is available to employers only if and when their application is successful. Any type of organisation can apply, however, there is criteria that employers will have to meet in order to be eligible for approval, this includes the following:

The job placements must not be replacing planned/existing vacancies.
These placements must not result in existing employees/contractors reducing their role in the business, or losing employment entirely.
The new job placements must offer a minimum of 25 hours per week throughout a 6 month period.
The placements must offer at the very least the National Minimum Wage relative to the age of the employee.
The placements should not need employees to undergo extensive training before the placement begins.
The placements must be exclusively for people between the ages of 16 – 24 who are on Universal Credit facing the risk of long-term unemployment.
The application (by a Gateway) must be for 30 job placements as a minimum.

For our tips on improving your chances of approval click here

So…… where do I sign up?

Luckily for you, Digital Future First is a business support helpline, offering a direct route to help businesses access Government funding and support programmes.

Our partner the Learning and Skills Academy have a dedicated website where you can start your application.

Simply click on the ‘Apply Now’ button and fill out the application form.

As a reminder, the project is part funded by the European Social Fund and can offer free business support to business owners who are based in:

Central Bedfordshire
Milton Keynes

This article first appeared on the Digital Future First blog see below for a link.