The Government has “limited assurance” over whether the Kickstart scheme to help young people into work is having any positive effect, according to a new report.
The National Audit Office (NAO) watchdog has cautioned that Government officials cannot be sure how high quality the jobs created by the scheme have been.
The NAO also warned that more could be done to ensure the scheme for 16 to 24-year-olds, which has been extended to March 2022, is “targeted at those who need it the most”.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) launched the Kickstart programme in September 2020 after a rise in youth unemployment following the pandemic.
The programme was designed with an intention to create six-month work placements for young people on Universal Credit.
Last week, the DWP claimed that over 100,000 young people across the country have started jobs through the scheme.
However, the watchdog raised concerns over the quality of the jobs created and the impact they had.
Gareth Davies, head of the National Audit Office, said: “At the start of the pandemic, DWP acted quickly to set up Kickstart to help young people into work when youth unemployment was predicted to rise significantly.
“However, 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.”
In its report, the NAO added that the labour market reopened in ways that were not originally expected due to following lockdowns.
It added that there are concerns that jobs might have been created through the scheme which would have developed anyway.
“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 watchdog added.
A Government spokesman said: “We acted quickly and decisively to establish Kickstart at the start of the pandemic when it was feared unemployment levels would more than double – as this report acknowledges.
“The scheme has already delivered over 100,000 new life-changing jobs for young jobseekers on Universal Credit who were at risk of long-term unemployment and will continue to deliver opportunities for young people.”