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Employment and training

Kickstart scheme “falling short in its attempt to level up the recovery”

Close-up of two people reviewing a document together. One is pointing to a position on the page while the other holds a pen to make notes.

Responding to the National Audit Office’s report on the Kickstart Scheme, Mat Ilic, Chief Development Officer at Catch22, said:

“We were one of the first organisations to register as a Kickstart Gateway and are fully behind the intent and ambition of the programme. From the start, we’ve worked hard to support our Kickstart participants, providing them with intense wrap-around support and ensuring employers are committed to quality placements. We’re proud that so far 66% of young people on our placements have gone on to achieve positive outcomes: either employment with their Kickstart company or with another company.

“However, we fear that our achievement is marred by failure elsewhere.

“It was clear when the scheme rolled out that there were design flaws, many of which have been brought to light in today’s NAO report.

“Delays in approving Kickstart providers and placements led to many employers (and candidates) we supported, losing interest. This goes some way to explaining the lower than anticipated number of starts on the scheme.

“The number of starts is also the wrong measure of Kickstart’s success. Our greatest concern, and one we’ve raised repeatedly the DWP, is around who the scheme is actually helping. It would appear that those facing the greatest barriers to work simply aren’t benefitting, and that’s before we ask if the scheme has created permanent opportunities, long term.

“As today’s report reveals, the scheme is falling short in its attempt to level up the recovery. While the employment rate for young black people is 2-4 times that of young white people, they account for just 8% of Kickstart participants. Only just over 1% of Kickstart starts are disabled.

“If Kickstart is helping young people who would have found employment anyway, it won’t deliver what it was built to do.”