The Department for Work and Pensions is not able to conclude whether its youth unemployment scheme, Kickstart, is working as intended because it is not monitoring its success.
This is according to a new report from government watchdog, the National Audit Office, into the Kickstart programme, which was introduced at the start of the pandemic to try to mitigate an expected surge in youth unemployment.
Employers were given subsidies to take on workers aged between 16 and 24 into jobs that offered at least 25 hours of work per week.
The government aimed to create 250,000 jobs by December 2021, but the scheme is severely lagging behind target with only 96,700 people recruited so far.
What’s more, the NAO suspects that many of these roles would have been created anyway and cannot be wholly ascribed to the government’s policy.
“Repeated lockdowns meant many of the young people who started to claim Universal Credit at the start of the pandemic were on Universal Credit for over a year before the scheme could get going at scale,” the NAO stated.
“As the programme did begin to scale up, the economy was reopening, which increased the risk of government subsidising jobs that would have been created anyway.”
The DWP plans to evaluate the success of the scheme by examining participants’ future employment prospects, but the NAO warned that the data collected by the government is severely lacking because it conducts “relatively little monitoring” after funding a job.
Gareth Davies, Head of the NAO, said the DWP has “limited assurance that Kickstart is having the positive impact intended”.
“It does not know whether the jobs created are of high quality or whether they would have existed without the scheme. It could also do more to ensure the scheme is targeted at those who need it the most.”