Business organisations in Sheffield join forces with Council to help small businesses, social enterprises and charities access £2bn job creation fund

Written by Sheffield Chamber of Commerce

Sheffield Chamber of Commerce, Sheffield Digital and the Sheffield Social Enterprise Network have joined up with Sheffield City Council, Sheffield Hallam University and other partners across the city to help smaller businesses, social enterprises and organisations get young people into work.

The government has recently announced the £2bn Kickstart scheme that is designed to create hundreds of thousands of 6-month work placements. The placements are aimed at those aged 16 to 24 who are on Universal Credit and are considered at risk of long-term unemployment. The scheme is open to any young person looking to get a work placement, including graduates.

Large companies who plan to create more than 30 work placements can access the funding directly but smaller companies with fewer positions need to use an intermediary organisation to make a funding application. In a first of its kind in the country, business groups in the city have joined up in partnership with the Council to give small businesses a single gateway to access this funding.

Louisa Harrison Walker, Interim Executive Director at Sheffield Chamber of Commerce, said:

“The government has made it difficult for smaller companies to access the Kickstart programme but Sheffield Chamber, working with the Council and business groups across the city, has moved quickly to make it possible for our city’s small businesses to benefit from this funding.

“The government funding is welcome but the details on how to access the funding are complicated. There is some real teamwork going on in Sheffield to sort out the details to make it easy for small businesses to apply for the money they need to create these much-needed work placements. This teamwork is further evidence of the new partnerships that have developed in the city during the pandemic.”

“To keep things simple, small businesses can register their interest in the Kickstart programme by contacting Sheffield Chamber. This is for any small business, regardless of whether they are a member of the Chamber or another organisation. The Council and business groups are moving really quickly to setup the intermediary service so we can immediately begin to help businesses access the funding they need to create these jobs and to help young people get into high quality work placements.”

Jodie Marshall, Network Coordinator at Sheffield Social Enterprise Network, added:

“We know that for many social enterprises, organisations and businesses in the city, this period has been incredibly difficult. In such times, we believe that partnership work is critical to the success of the city region and individual businesses and organisations. We are excited to be working in partnership with the Chamber of Commerce, Sheffield Digital and Sheffield City Council to make sure that the local social enterprises are included in the planning and delivery of the Kickstart programme.”

Mel Kanarek, a Director at Sheffield Digital, added:

“The vast majority of digital employers in Sheffield are small organisations, but they offer big opportunities. By teaming up with other business organisations and the Council to make it simple for companies to get involved in Kickstart,  we hope to help young people and encourage a new wave of talent into our exciting industry.”

Andrew Jones, the Director of Education and Skills from Sheffield City Council continued:

“Sheffield City Council is delighted to be working with a range of partners including; local business groups, charitable organisations and colleagues from our universities to drive forward the Kickstart Scheme.  This important initiative will provide invaluable opportunities for young people to gain real work experience and hopefully progress rapidly into permanent employment.  It also gives us an opportunity to work in collaboration with partners who can have a major impact upon future employment opportunities for young people in our city.”

Maddy Des Forges, Chief Executive at Voluntary Action Sheffield also said:

“Voluntary Action Sheffield supports this strategic approach to bringing skills and employment funding in to Sheffield. The voluntary sector collectively is a major employer in Sheffield and also supports young people from all communities develop skills and access employment.  We are pleased that the Voluntary Sector can work in partnership with the Council and Chamber on the planning and delivery of this programme.”

Note to Editors

The Sheffied Partnership for Jobs and Skills has been formed out of the Covid-19 Business Response Group (BRG) that was set up by business groups and the Council at the start of the pandemic.

The BRG is co-chaired by representatives from Sheffield Chamber and the Council and involves business groups, cultural bodies as well as the city’s two universities.

About Kickstart

The new £2bn Kickstart scheme is designed to create thousands of new jobs for young people aged between 16-24 who are currently on Universal Credit.

Eligible young people on Universal Credit will be offered six-month work placements – with wages paid by the UK Government.

The UK Government will fully fund each “Kickstart” job – paying 100% of the age-relevant National Minimum Wage, National Insurance and pension contributions for 25 hours a week.

Employers will be able to top up this wage, while the UK Government will also pay employers £1,500 to set up support and training for people on a Kickstart placement, as well as helping pay for uniforms and other set up costs.

About the Intermediary Service

Employers that want to register their interest in the Kickstart Scheme should visit partner websites for further details. Employers can also email

The intermediary service is expected to be set in within the next couple of weeks. The intermediary service will link employers with young people looking for a work placement. The intermediary service will then support employers with the process of applying for the funding from UK government.

About Sheffield Digital

Sheffield Digital is the organisation for businesses and individuals involved in Sheffield’s digital industries. Our aim is to help develop the best possible environment for setting up, working in and growing digital businesses in Sheffield and the surrounding region. For more information, please visit

About the Sheffield Social Enterprise Network

Established in 2011, Sheffield Social Enterprise Network (SSEN) is a members led organisation for social enterprises and those working with the sector in the Sheffield Region. With the aim of achieving greater social impact through building connections, becoming better informed, sharing experiences and leveraging a stronger collective voice for the sector, SSEN supports members through advocating for the sector at a local and national level; providing the latest sector news and opportunities, events and networking.

As a member of Social Enterprise UK (the national social enterprise members body), SSEN was been instrumental in working with other organisations in the city to get Sheffield acknowledged as a Social Enterprise UK Place, recognising it as a hotspot of social enterprise activity. SSEN continues to lead on promoting, raising awareness and building markets for social enterprise at a local and national level as part of this work.

About Sheffield Chamber of Commerce:  

Established in 1857, Sheffield Chamber of Commerce are a membership organisation providing the latest news, events, business advice, support and expertise to the local business community. Its aim is to delight its members, grow its membership base and articulate a strong and thoughtful voice for the local business community.

Sheffield Chamber are one of 53 Chambers across the UK who are accredited through its national body, the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC). Together, the Chambers represent tens of thousands of businesses of all shapes and sizes, which employ almost six million people across the UK.

This press release has been issued by Sheffield Chamber of Commerce. For more information or to arrange interviews, please contact Emma-Jane Wright on 0114 201 8901 or email