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Practices could get £1,500 for recruiting young people on Universal Credit

by Jess Hacker
3 February 2021

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Eligible practices and primary care services that hire young people claiming Universal Credit could receive £1,500 per job placement to cover the setup costs, under a Government economic recovery scheme.

The kickstart scheme is one of four Government schemes designed to support economic recovery following the Covid-19 pandemic and help young people at risk of long-term unemployment.

NHS Employers said in a briefing on Monday (1 February) that the schemes could also assist practices in ‘[delivering] on the commitments made in the NHS People Plan’.

The NHS People Plan, which launched in July 2020, outlined a strategy for employers to increase support for NHS staff, with particular focus on responding to pressures created by the pandemic.

NHS Employers told Management in Practice that employers in primary care are eligible for all of the schemes detailed in its briefing, provided they meet the criteria.

Funding pathways

In addition to the £1,500 start-up funding for placements under the kickstart scheme, the Government will also cover 100% of the minimum wage cost for 25 hours a week, across the six-month placement.

Under the scheme, new hires cannot replace existing or planned vacancies, but instead must be offered the opportunity to develop transferable skills and support, including career advice.

The NHS Employers report also highlighted funding available for apprenticeships – or traineeships for those not yet ready for an apprenticeship. Employers can also receive £2,000 for hiring apprentices under 25, and £1,500 for those older than 35, up to 31 March 2021.

Similarly, employers can claim £1,000 for every trainee that starts and completes a work placement before 31 July 2021.

The Prince’s Trust, which is currently working with integrated care systems (ICSs) to help recruit for Covid-19 vaccination programmes, also runs a scheme designed to improve young people’s access to NHS careers, the NHS Employers briefing said.

The four-to-six-week scheme is a combination of class-based sessions and work placements centred around securing employment for young people. The Trust also offers a 2-3 day course consisting of interview training, and ending with interviews for live vacancies.

According to data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS),between September and November 2020, the UK unemployment rate was estimated to be at 5%, with that number forecast to reach nearly 7% by the end of 2021 as a result of the recession.

The NHS Employers briefing said NHS England currently has 87,000 vacancies, more than 40% of which are for nurses.

NHS People Plan

After its launch in July 2020, the NHS People Plan was criticised by some health bodies for lacking the necessary Government funding to support both employers and employees.

Health thinktank The King’s Fund claimed the report ‘falls short’ of the kind of workforce strategy the NHS needs, while NHS Employers noted that ‘further investment’ in educational places was needed to ensure there are enough staff to care for patients in the future.

At the time, Danny Mortimer, chief executive of NHS Employers, said there were ‘no quick solutions to the years of disinvestment in the NHS workforce’.