The Kickstart Scheme provides government funding to employers to create new 6-month job placements for young people between 16 – 24 (18 for Security organisations) who are currently on Universal Credit and at risk of long-term unemployment.

Mercury is an approved Kickstart Gateway that supports and guide small businesses through the process.

How it works

The government has introduced a new Kickstart Scheme in the UK, a £2 billion fund to create hundreds of thousands of high quality 6-month work placements aimed at those aged 16-24 who are on Universal Credit and are deemed to be at risk of long-term unemployment.

How much funding will I receive?

Funding available for each job will cover 100% of the relevant National Minimum Wage for 25 hours a week, plus the associated employer National Insurance contributions and employer minimum automatic enrolment contributions.

You will also receive up to £1,500 per placement to cover the costs of equipment, training, and other associated new-starter costs.

For each ‘Kickstarter’ job, the government will:

  • Cover the cost of 25 hours’ work a week at the National Minimum Wage
  • £4.55 for under 18s
  • £6.45 for 18 to 20-year-olds
  • £8.20 for 21 to 24-year-olds

(Employers will also be able to top up that payment and/or offer more than the 25 hours work per week if they wish)

When will I get paid?

Mercury will make Funding payments in accordance with the following payment schedule for each Participant employed by the Employer as part of the Kickstart Scheme. The Funding per Participant will be paid in the following instalments:

Instalments Grant sum payable Payment date/milestone
1st payment One £1500 payment per Participant for set-up and support costs On confirmation to DWP’s satisfaction that the Participant has started employment with the Grant Recipient.
2nd payment 100% of the Relevant Wage for 25 hours a week of work by the Participant during the first month of the job, plus the associated employer National Insurance contributions and employer minimum automatic enrolment contributions. Paid in arrears – on confirmation that Participant paid through pay-as-you-earn tax (PAYE) for the first month. This payment is expected to be in or around the 6th week of the placement.
3rd to 7th payments 100% of the Relevant Wage for 25 hours a week of work by the Participant during the subsequent second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth months of the job, plus the associated employer National Insurance contributions and employer minimum automatic enrolment contributions. Paid in arrears – approximately every month after the 2nd payment on confirmation that Participant paid through PAYE for the previous month.

How is the grant paid?

The funding would be initially transferred to us as your Kickstart Gateway, then as soon as the funding is confirmed, we will contact you to arrange a transfer into your business account.


Here are some frequently asked questions regarding the Kickstart Scheme. If you can’t find what you are looking for, please get in touch where we will be happy to help contact us.

What size of employer do I need to be?

We work with employers of all sizes can apply.

I may only have the capacity to support one Kickstarter. Is this ok?

Yes, no problem at all! There are no minimum numbers when working with Mercury

Who can I offer the Kickstart placements to?

Candidates must be registered with Job Centre Plus, aged between 16 – 24 and in receipt of Universal Credit (UC).

If I have more than one position to offer, do I need to start all Kickstarters straight away?

No need to rush. Employers can spread the start date of the job placements up until the end of December 2021.

I am a small employer, always busy with not much time to recruit and will need help with the requirements of the scheme. What support can I expect from Mercury?

Mercury fully understand that employers simply work non-stop and will need help to navigate the Kickstart process. Mercury have worked with JCP processes for over nine years and will take you through the whole process as we fully understand the workload you have to keep your business running. We will provide help writing job descriptions, drafting contracts of employment, providing policy templates such as: Health & Safety, Absence/sickness, Employee handbook etc.

The Kickstart scheme requires the employer to provide employability training, careers guidance, CV writing skills plus more. This must also be evidenced for audits that will take place in the future. Can I get help with this?

Absolutely no problem.

Our coaches will take care of the mandatory training requirements for your Kickstarter(s) using our on-line portfolio system and secure video conferencing that can be used via computer or phone.

Mercury are Matrix accredited to offer Impartial careers Information, advice, and guidance. All team members are enhanced DBS checked.

How secure are Mercury’s systems?

Mercury is Cyber Essentials Certified: All servers are located in the UK.

Our certification gives you peace of mind that our defences will protect us against the vast majority of common cyber-attacks simply because these attacks are looking for targets which do not have the Cyber Essentials technical controls in place.

What happens if the Kickstarter ceases to be employed?

As part of the Kickstart Scheme during any month (either because the Participant leaves their job or has their employment terminated), the payment for that month will be reduced on a pro rata basis.

How do I get Started?

We will then:

Step 1: Be in touch to confirm details to make sure that the Kickstart scheme is right for you

Step 2: Submit your application to JCP for Kickstart funding (this can take up to 28 days for JCP to confirm acceptance)

Step 3: Help you to:

  • Draft your job description
  • Filter candidate applications from JCP and provide you with a short list of applicants to select from
  • Provide templates for contracts, employee handbooks etc for legal compliance

Step 4: Provide the mandatory:

  • Careers guidance
  • Health & Safety, Internet safety, Customer Service, Employability and CV writing training

Step 5: At the end of the 6 months or at any time, you can either choose to employ the Kickstarter, transfer to an apprenticeship or we will assist in finding alternative employment elsewhere because of the support you have offered the Kickstarter over the 6 month term.