The Association of Convenience Stores has welcomed an announcement from the Government on plans to simplify the ‘Kickstart Scheme’, making it easier for retailers to create new job placements for their local communities.

The Department for Work and Pensions has announced plans to amend its Kickstart Scheme to allow employers to apply directly from February 3, regardless of the number of jobs to be funded.

Previously, retailers applying for funding for 29 or fewer placements were required to partner with an external ‘Kickstart Gateway’ for resource-intensive due diligence checks.

The scheme is designed to provide funding to create new job placements for 16-24 year olds on Universal Credit at risk of long-term unemployment.

The funding covers: 100% of the relevant statutory minimum wage rate for 25 hours per week for up to six months; associated employer National Insurance and auto-enrolment pension costs; an additional £1,500 payment is made to the employer per placement to support with setup costs and employability training.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “Convenience stores provide local, secure and flexible employment opportunities to hundreds of thousands of people across the UK.

“Removing the threshold for Kickstart placements will enable retailers to bring forward high-quality new jobs to their local areas and support those most negatively affected by the pandemic.”

Placements must start by the end of December 2021 and must be new jobs – they cannot reduce working hours from other colleagues.

Guidance about the scheme is available here.