Thousands of young people in Sheffield targeted for work scheme

Thousands of young people in Sheffield could benefit from a £2 billion government fund to help them into work, figures suggest.

Wednesday, 9th September 2020, 4:45 pm

The newly launched Kickstart scheme is aimed at people aged 16-24 who are at risk of being “left behind” in a labour market hit hard by the Covid-19 crisis.

It will subsidise six-month work placements for Universal Credit claimants in the age group who are out of work and facing long-term unemployment.

Department for Work and Pensions data shows there were 5,734 people aged 16-24 who were unemployed and on Universal Credit in Sheffield at the most recent count on June 11.

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Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak

They were among 61,000 young people out of work and claiming the benefit across Yorkshire and The Humber, and 628,000 across Britain as a whole.

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The state will pay employers £1,500 to set up support and training for someone on a placement, as well as covering the National Minimum Wage, which ranges from £4.55 an hour for 16-year-olds up to £8.20 for those aged 21-24.

It will also pay National Insurance and pension contributions for 25 hours a week.

But the Labour Party says the programme has been delayed and lacks coordination, while warning the scheme must lead to meaningful work.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: “This isn’t just about kickstarting our country’s economy – it is an opportunity to kickstart the careers of thousands of young people who could otherwise be left behind as a result of the pandemic.

“The scheme will open the door to a brighter future for a new generation and ensure the UK bounces back stronger as a country.”

Kickstart, which will be delivered by the DWP, will initially be open until December 2021.

Major employers including Tesco have signed up to offer jobs through the initiative, the Government said.

Shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds said Labour has “repeatedly called for a youth employment scheme that matches the scale of today’s jobs crisis”.

But she said the Kickstart scheme had been delayed and lacks cross-organisational coordination.

She added: “It will only work if employers and jobseekers have clarity and confidence that the scheme will lead to meaningful work. The Government can’t afford to get this wrong.”

In Sheffield, there were more 23-years-olds (904) on Universal Credit in June than any other year group eligible for the work placements.

Therese Coffey, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, urged businesses to get involved in the programme.

She said: “Young people taking part will receive on-the-job training, skills development and mentoring, as we get them on that first rung of the jobs ladder and on their way to successful careers.”

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