MARKET traders desperate to expand their businesses while investing in the futures of young people have been knocked back for a Government scheme to create job placements for 16-24-year-olds.

Stallholders on Westhoughton Market have applied to be part of the Kickstart Scheme — but at least three have been rejected.

Karen Hargreaves, who runs two stalls, selling cards and vapes, said: “Others on the market say they are not going to bother applying because of the response we have had. They said they would be wasting their time saying ‘if you guys haven’t got it we have no chance’.”

The scheme, provides funding to create job placements for 16-24-year-olds on Universal Credit who are at risk of long-term unemployment. Employers of all sizes are said to be eligible.

Karen applied to the scheme to train up a young person to be manager.

She said: “I wanted to be able to train somebody eventually once they had learned everything they would have been running the shop. I had already spoken to the accountant about setting up PAYE.”

Other traders to be rejected include Subzero and Margaret’s Bakery.

Karen said none could understand why they were not accepted on the scheme, saying they were committed to investing in the long term future of the young person.

She said: “The likes of big corporations can get it, and they don’t need it. We are trying to expand and we are all trying to do our best.

“If we got help we would be able to concentrate developing other sides of the business, such as going online. The young people would learn all sorts of retail skills and be put in for qualifications such as Level One and Two catering.

“It was a perfect opportunity for us to take somebody on without the initial outlay because they give you some money towards training, which is a big help.”

Karen added that the young people would have a job at the end of the end and would not be a risk of being dismissed once the funding ended.

She said:“There was nothing there to justify why we didn’t get it. They just mentioned due diligence, but they have not asked me for any accounts.”

A DWP Spokesperson said: “To qualify for Kickstart funding, all employers must meet the same requirements - regardless of their size. Thousands of small businesses have successfully applied to the scheme, and we have improved our processes since the scheme launched, including allowing employers seeking any number of Kickstart vacancies to apply to us directly."