Published: 14:16, 08 July 2020
| Updated: 14:17, 08 July 2020
Chancellor Rishi Sunak's new £2billion 'kickstart' scheme has met with mixed views from business figures in the county.
Speaking in the Commons today, the Chancellor unveiled the latest package to help boost the economy and protect youngsters who are set to be hardest hit by the downturn caused by the pandemic.
The kickstart scheme will subsidise those aged between 16 and 24, who are at risk of long-term unemployment, in six-month work placements.
But Duncan Cochrane-Dyet, managing partner at accountants and business advisors MHA MacIntyre Hudson, which has offices in Maidstone and Canterbury, says many employers will still be priced out of the government’s job creation scheme.
He explained: "The scheme allows young people the opportunity to gain skills and experience in the workplace, but not without considerable commitment from employers, who already face significant challenges.
"The Chancellor’s aim is to give businesses the confidence to retain and hire, but with business activity and revenues hard hit across so many sectors, employers will struggle to meet national insurance costs, or to top up wages beyond the 25 hours covered.
"They will also find it difficult to commit to training costs, and they lack the resource to divert trained staff to support new employees.
"Given the six-month lifespan of this support, additional measures are required to prevent another cliff-edge deadline. While it may provide a short-term solution, the package still leaves many workers without support as the furlough scheme ends. There is also a risk that unscrupulous employers will exploit young workers and the opportunity to take on cheap labour.”
However, it was welcomed by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).
Echoing comments made by its national chairman, Mike Cherry, development manager for Kent, Alison Parmar, said: "A focus on jobs is absolutely essential to lift the country out of the economic hardship caused by the Covid crisis.
“It has been worrying to see the rising number of young people out of work, and with 700,000 16-24 year olds due to join the labour market this summer this needs a major intervention to prevent a generation lost to long-term unemployment.
“Small businesses are disproportionately likely to employ young people, as well as people who were previously out of work, and therefore the government must implement the scheme in such a way as to allow smaller employers to play their part fully. Small businesses must not be left waiting in line behind big corporates when they could get people to work now.
“Small businesses account for around 60% of all private sector employment in the UK. It’s vital to see support for jobs right across the board – both for young people and the rest of the workforce.”