Chancellor Rishi Sunak is to extend the Kickstart scheme and cash incentives for hiring new apprentices until next year.
The move forms part of a £500m extension to the government’s Plan For Jobs, which includes helping those leaving the furlough scheme and people over the age of 50 back into work.
Bonuses of £3,000 for businesses that hire apprentices were due to end on 30 September, but will now be extended until 31 January 2022.
The Kickstart scheme, which subsidises new job placements for 16 to 24-year-olds on Universal Credit, will now run until March 2022 and will be open to applications from employers until 17 December.
The programme launched in September 2020 in a bid to tackle the impact of the pandemic on jobs, with hospitality groups including PizzaExpress, Greene King, Domino’s and KFC signing up to take part. Under the scheme, the government pays 100% of the National Minimum Wage or National Living Wage for 25 hours per week for a total of six months, alongside employer National Insurance contributions and automatic pension contributions.
However, the latest figures showed only 76,900 young people have started in Kickstart roles despite 196,300 jobs being made available and 295,000 approved for funding.
It was also announced today (4 October) that jobseekers over the age of 50 are set to receive more “intensive, tailored support” to help find work.
The government is prioritising support for those coming off furlough and on Universal Credit through the Job Finding Support (JFS) scheme, which provides one-to-one advice for people unemployed for less than three months.
The Job Entry Targeted Support Scheme (JETS), which helps people who have been unemployed for over three months, is being extended to September 2022.
A government statement said: “This multi-million expansion of the Plan for Jobs will ensure that people across the country continue to be supported as we enter the next stage of our economic recovery.”