Hexham’s MP has welcomed the Government’s new Kickstart Scheme, calling on local employers to sign up and help young people into work.

Guy Opperman recently made a socially distanced visit to Farplace Animal Rescue, on Battle Hill, in Hexham, where he met with CEO of the charity, Gareth Edwards.

Farplace has applied to take on ‘kickstarters’ in all its shops and hopes to have recruits in place by November.

Mr Opperman said: “It was great to visit a local business which has signed up to the Kickstart Scheme.

“We cannot allow young people to be left behind as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, and schemes like this will be vital for creating jobs and giving young people the skills to access them.”

Gareth Edwards, CEO of Farplace Animal Rescue, added: We are delighted to play our part in the economic recovery from this pandemic.

“The Kickstart Scheme is a welcome boost to our retail operation, and we look forward to welcoming lots of young people, training them in retail skills and equipping them for a positive future, both with certification of skills developed and an in-house training programme.

“It has been a very difficult year for all charities, and this is a welcome initiative that will aid both our recovery and, we hope, growth to do more for rescued animals.”

The £2 billion scheme has been designed to ensure young people, at risk of long-term unemployment, have a future of opportunity and hope, by creating quality, government-subsidised jobs across the UK, helping to spur the country’s economic recovery after the coronavirus pandemic.

Under the scheme, which was announced in June as part of the Government’s Plan for Jobs, employers that sign up will be able to offer young people, aged 16-24 who are claiming Universal Credit, a six-month work placement that is fully funded by the Government.

This means the Government will pay 100 per cent of the young persons’ age-relevant National Minimum Wage, National Insurance and pension contributions for 25 hours a week, which the employer can top up if they chose to.

The Government will also pay the employer £1,500 for each young person they take on, to support any training or associated costs, like uniforms, that they might incur when setting up the scheme.

The scheme will initially be open until December 2021, but there is the option for it to be extended.

Young people will be referred into the new roles through their Jobcentre Plus work coach with the first Kickstarters expected to begin at the start of November.