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Kickstart: Departmental Discussions

Volume 690: debated on Monday 8 March 2021

What discussions her Department has had with the Department for Communities on the kickstart scheme. (912999)

The Northern Ireland Executive will be running the job start scheme to support young people to progress. Similar to the kickstart scheme available in England, Scotland and Wales, it is also focused on helping young people most at risk of long-term unemployment. The hon. Gentleman will be pleased to know that the DWP has been in regular contact with colleagues in Northern Ireland to discuss the development of the job start scheme and share progress and insight on the kickstart scheme.

The Minister is absolutely right that the kickstart scheme is a wonderful, innovative scheme, which should be applied to Northern Ireland, but it has not yet been rolled out there. I wonder whether the Minister will be honest with us and tell us whether that is the fault of the UK Government or the fault of the local Communities Minister, who has been allocated the money but has not yet applied it to the scheme? Will the hon. Lady encourage her to get on with applying this scheme to Northern Ireland in the next telephone call that she has with the Communities Minister in Northern Ireland?

The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right. Northern Ireland received Barnett consequentials to support the job start scheme, and our officials have been talking. The money is not ring-fenced, and I am keen to see all young people access this type of scheme across the United Kingdom so that they can get the support they need to progress. Should anybody need further support to make this happen in Northern Ireland, our officials continue to stand ready to see it start.