The UK Government last week unveiled further economic support to help businesses recover from the pandemic. The plan, presented as a Plan for Jobs, had at its core an ambition to protect jobs and to create new jobs. The total value of this new support is estimated to be as high as £30 billion. As major employers the measures announced will provide significant extra support for charity retailers. In total, there are over 26,000 full time equivalent jobs in the charity retail sector.
The three big policy measures that will provide support for jobs in charity retail are:
- A £1,000 Job Retention Bonus per employee
- A Kickstart Scheme to support new jobs for 18-24-year olds
- Support for new apprenticeships and traineeships
Job Retention Bonus
By far the biggest part of the announcement was the introduction of a Job Retention Bonus of £1,000 per employee. The Government will pay £1,000 to UK employers for every furloughed employee who remains continuously employed through to the end of January 2021. The small print is that to be eligible, an employee must earn £520 a month on average between the end of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the end of January 2021. This minimum earnings limit will mean that some part time employees will not qualify for the bonus but overall this bonus is likely to be of significant benefit to the charity retail sector and will help offset some of the financial damage caused by the pandemic.
Kickstart Scheme (England, Scotland and Wales Only)
To support the creation of new jobs and younger people, the Government is introducing a new Kickstart Scheme in Great Britain, to create hundreds of thousands of 6-month work placements aimed at those aged 16-24 who are on Universal Credit. The Government will pay 100% of the wages of people on the scheme for 25 hours a week at the National Minimum Wage.
Apprenticeships and traineeships (England Only)
New incentive payments for employers hiring new apprentices will be introduced. Employers will be paid £2,000 for each new apprentice they hire aged under 25, and a £1,500 payment for each new apprentice they hire aged 25 and over, from 1st August 2020 to 31st January 2021. These payments cannot be combined with the Kickstart Scheme.
The Government is also extending funding for traineeships and for the first time will pay employers £1,000 per trainee for providing work experience. Under the current scheme, each traineeship work placement must last a minimum of 100 hours. Full details of these schemes are yet to be published by the Government. The Government’s Plan for Jobs can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/a-plan-for-jobs-2020
Jonathan Mail, Head of Public Affairs, Charity Retail Association