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Kickstart Scheme

Volume 688: debated on Monday 25 January 2021

What steps her Department is taking to enable more small business to participate in the kickstart scheme. (911266)

We continue to engage with employers of all sizes to create high-quality placements for our young people to get their start on the employment ladder, and to make it even simpler, from 3 February we will remove the 30-job minimum for job applications, giving new applicants the choice to apply directly or via one of over 600 excellent approved kickstart gateways.

As you well know, Mr Speaker, South Ribble has many brilliant small businesses that are keen to provide a kickstart opportunity for a young person. For example, Mark Wright Landscapes got in touch saying that it was worried that it was too small to participate. In that instance, I was able to direct them to the great North and Western Lancashire chamber of commerce, which acts as a gateway. Will my hon. Friend join me in thanking that small business and encouraging others in Lancashire and beyond to create a job and give an opportunity through kickstart to as many young people as possible?

I would very much like to thank my hon. Friend for raising the opportunities for smaller businesses, and the great team at the North and Western Lancashire chamber of commerce for their hard work and the services they provide as a gateway organisation. This is helping many sole traders and employers in her constituency to support our young people to take up these kickstart roles, ensuring that young people have that vital wraparound support, getting them on to the career ladder and, above all, grasping future work opportunities.

With youth unemployment set to reach 1 million and 600,000 already unemployed, can the Minister provide some updates on how her Department will meet the 250,000 kickstart programme target that it stated it would meet? The numbers that the Secretary of State has set out today are worryingly low. Will she also consider removing the six-month requirement, where a young person has to be unemployed for six months before they qualify for the kickstart programme?

The young person needs to be on universal credit and working with our excellent work coaches. In respect of Hoxton and Poplar, which cover the hon. Lady’s constituency, we are recruiting 27 new work coaches in Hoxton and 67 in Poplar. Since the end of September, we have been working with the new Tower Hamlets youth hub, with local employers and gateways bringing opportunities. I encourage the hon. Lady to visit her local jobcentre to see what has happened there in the past year, because I do not believe she has visited and think that would put her mind at rest.