Haulage boss hits out at Kickstart Scheme delays

John Dugmore and Rt Hon Therese Coffey MP at the Kickstart Scheme launch Picture: DWP

Minister for work and pensions Therese Coffey and John Dugmore chief executive of the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce at the Kickstart Scheme launch in September. - Credit: Department for Work & Pensions

A Felixstowe businessman has hit out at the Department for Work and Pensions over its running of the Kickstart Scheme.

The scheme aims to place 250,000 under-25s in high-quality jobs by the end of the year but Adam Searle, director of CP Transport, says long wait times mean the scheme is not working as it should be.

Mr Searle was looking to hire three or four staff through the Kickstart Scheme, but he says that because of a five week delay getting government approval for the roles he is now looking to hire experienced candidates.

Mr Searle said: "The scheme itself is great. It gets people into other roles rather than with big corporates or multi-nationals that have all these training schemes and goodness knows what.

"It gets them through different doors and into different avenues that wouldn't normally look to invest time in youngsters and train them up.

"But I'm now at the stage where I've got to move otherwise I'll have a problem in the future because I won't have enough staff to do the job."

According to emails seen by this newspaper two Kickstart gateways, the organisations that act as a middleman between smaller employers and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to organise placements on the scheme, say they are experiencing long delays in getting government approval for the roles.

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A manager at a national gateway wrote in an email: "Unfortunately turnaround times for every process in the Kickstart scheme are stretched due to the DWP staffing levels for the scheme."

A spokesman for the DWP said they were not aware of any staffing issues.

Previously Therese Coffey, the secretary of state overseeing the scheme, said the lack of people starting jobs created by the Kickstart Scheme was due to "the reality of the lockdown restrictions" which, she said, made it difficult for firms to train and induct new employees.

The DWP spokesman said the average time for a Kickstart application to be approved is 21 days, as of March 16.

Adding: "Once approved an employer decides when the job will start and local Jobcentre Plus staff refer young people to apply.

"Kickstart has created over 180,000 jobs since it launched, with thousands of young people now starting their placements each week and more vacancies becoming available every day in a range of sectors across the country."

According to the DWP, more than 11,800 young people have started in jobs created by the scheme.