Neath Port Talbot Council’s Cabinet has agreed to pave the way for the council to begin acting as a local agent for the Government’s Kickstart scheme.
The scheme, announced in July by the Chancellor Rishi Sunak, provides funding to employers to create job placements for 16 to 24 year olds on Universal Credit and at risk of long-term unemployment.
At its meeting on November 4th, Neath Port Talbot’s Cabinet approved the council making a submission to the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) for it to become a so-called Gateway Representative (local agent) for the scheme.
Cllr Annette Wingrave, Neath Port Talbot Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Sustainable Development, said: “The jobs in this scheme will give young people the opportunity to build their skills in the workplace and to gain experience to improve their chances of finding long-term work.”
Kickstart requires a business to take 30 placements or to collaborate with other businesses (or a local council) to collectively offer 30 placements.
The scheme is reportedly very much welcomed by both businesses and young people, however its criteria has led to some criticism that the scheme is tailored towards larger businesses.
Smaller companies would typically not offer 30 placements or have the capacity to set up and support a collaboration of companies to create some 30 placements, in addition to managing the support, financial and administration requirements.
This can be overcome however, by creating the role of Gateway Representative which Neath Port Talbot Council expects to take on after making its submission to the DWP.
The coronavirus pandemic has significant impacts on businesses across the country and the DWP recognises that benefit claims for young people have already significantly risen and there has been a big increase in unemployment for those aged 18-24.
It is therefore hoped the Council’s promotion of the Kickstart scheme will go some way to alleviate the impact on young people of the current economic difficulties, and will offer quality employment and career opportunities for their future.