January 11th, 2021.

Paula Woolven writes:

On the 8th of July 2020, the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, made a bold and welcomed statement that he was injecting £2bn into a job 'Kickstart' scheme to subsidise six-month work placements for young people aged between 16-24, on Universal Credit or at risk of long-term unemployment.

He said that the scheme would be opened for applications in August 2020 with the first jobs expected to start 'in the autumn of 2020' with the scheme finishing in December 2021.

As an employer in Newhaven, I was excited to be able to give such an opportunity to young people and whilst they were working for me, train them and support them in work skills, improving their life chances for the career path they would move on to. I was one of the first people to step forward to offer placements at the Havens Community Hub CIC.

Fast forward six months and the Sussex Chamber of Commerce has only just been given approval to act as a gateway organisation for employers - with a halt being put on any new applications from employers at the current time.

As an employer committed to safer recruitment, by the time the jobs are advertised, applied for, interviews held and all the administration needed to employ these positions is in place, it will be April at the earliest, meaning the FIRST people I take on will be finishing in November or December 2021 - so they will also be the last, despite the scheme hailing itself as a 'rolling' one.

To all the parents and carers of young people, and the young people themselves, on Universal Credit frightened that their children will be the 'generation left behind', who may have taken hope from the announcement six months ago - I share your frustration and disappointment.

The government said it would allow young people "the opportunity to build their skills in the workplace, and to gain experience that will improve their chances of going on to find long-term sustainable work". It sounded too good to be true, didn't it? Sadly, it appears it was.

Mrs Paula Woolven
Newhaven Employer, East Sussex.
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