Sara’s Blog: Reaction to lockdown measures Kickstart Scheme and Awards entries

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The Chambers fully understand the measures implemented to tackle the spread of Coronavirus and welcome the new tiered approach adopted by Government, however we do urge the government to consider differences across industrial sectors.

Many companies operate production lines which require days, in some cases weeks, to fully shut down with a similar timeframe to re-start. The ceramic sector is a classic example with high temperature kilns which cannot simply be switched off without planning. This problem is replicated through many businesses using complex automated production processes.

Sectors such as automotive to food and drink will be affected in a similar manner. We are therefore calling on the Government via the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) to ensure that communications are swift, accurate and comprehensive so that businesses can act accordingly, thus avoiding the confusion which ensued during the initial stages of the first national lockdown.

From the unemployment figures that are starting to come through, it is clear that the under 24s are being hardest hit. These young people are the future for us all and we need to support and help them into work, so they don’t feel like a generation which struggles to see a positive economic future.

We are currently assisting businesses in the county to access funding to create hundreds of jobs for 16 to 24-year-olds through the government backed Kickstart Scheme which aims to have its first placements in work by November. Any organisation, especially if applying for less than 30 Kickstart placements, needs to apply via a ‘Representative’ organisation such as the Chambers.

Businesses will be paid £1,500 towards the costs of taking on a 16- 24-year-old, on Universal Credit and deemed to be at risk of long-term unemployment. The government will pay 25 hours at National Minimum Wage level for 6 months to the employer plus associated employer National Insurance contributions and employer minimum automatic enrolment contributions. The £1,500 per job placement is available for setup costs, employability support and training and must be spent on supporting the young person with training to help them stand a better chance of further employment in the future.

Local Job Centres will receive job descriptions and work coaches will then encourage young people, who they feel would be best suited to those roles, to apply directly to business.

Employers can offer more than 25 hours and pay the young person more than National Minimum Wage at their own cost. Support will also be provided for employers looking to offer the young person full-time work or even an apprenticeship at the end of the six-month placement period. And of course there is wrap round support from the Growth Hub, the Skills Hub, the Chambers’ mentoring programme, our HR specialist advisor and many other services to help make this a good experience for the young person and the business generously offering the placement.

So far we have had over 200 businesses offering placements in Staffordshire alone.

Any employer interested in Kickstart should contact Tom Nadin: tom.nadin@staffordshirecghambers.co.uk 01782 202222

Finally, a big thank you to all those who sent in entries for the 2020 Staffordshire Chambers Business Awards. Despite the current situation we still had just under 200 entries. We now have the difficult

but pleasurable task of deciding on the shortlisted entries for our online gala presentation evening on 19th November. More on this special event nearer the time and all the information on the event is on our website.

If you want to talk to us about any business issues, you can call our switchboard on 01782 202222 or call the Stoke and Staffs Growth Hub Helpline on 0300 111 8002.

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