The Spring Budget 2023 was aptly labelled as the ‘back to work’ budget. This was due to the government seemingly prioritising getting people back into employment in order to generate a faster economic recovery. As of January 2023, unemployment in the UK stood at 3.7%. This is a rate similar to the historic employment dearth of the mid-1970s.
In his announcements, the Chancellor referenced the current labour market, stating there were one million open vacancies in the economy. Excluding students there are over seven million adults of working age who are not in employment. The reforms propose to remove barriers which stop people from working. These allegedly could provide a ‘pool of seven people for every vacancy’.
Despite the Budget receiving a lukewarm reception from the public, the impact the announcements will have on the workplace, particularly within HR, is huge. We explain the key points that the budget highlighted, and how they will affect employers and HR professionals are:
Universal Support Scheme
The Universal Support Scheme is a new voluntary employment scheme for disabled people and those with health conditions. It will be funded in England and Wales. The chancellor explained that up to £4,000 per person will be invested to support 50,000 people per year. This funding is to find ‘a suitable role to cater to their needs’. Employers and HR professionals need to consider the accessibility of the workplace with a view to introducing reasonable adjustments that would benefit a majority of people.
The chancellor revealed a £406m plan, which focuses on mental health, musculoskeletal conditions and cardiovascular disease. The plan is to bring forward two new consultations on improving availability and take-up of occupational health services. As well as this, the funding for SMEs is to double.
Regulations could be introduced requiring employers to provide occupation health services. Employers and HR professionals should understand how occupational health can help people manage their conditions. This will provide the support which enables people to remain or return to employment.
Apprenticeships for over 50s
The Chancellor claimed that instead of considering people aged over 50 as older, the focus should be on the experience they possess. To attract ‘older workers’ back into the labour market, a new apprenticeship scheme for the over 50s, ‘returnerships’, would be introduced.
Existing skills programmes will be refined and offered alongside skills bootcamps and sector-based work academies. For employers and HR professionals, regular training to keep skills relevant is required. As well as this, putting measures in place which correspond with the over 50s requirements is also crucial. These include flexible working and benefits which are appealing to older workers, and will assist in attracting these workers back to the workplace.
Reducing Childcare Costs For Working Parents
The Chancellor announced a phased introduction of free childcare costs by September 2025:
April 2024: 15 hours of free childcare for working parents of two-year-olds
September 2024: 15 hours of free childcare for working parents of children aged nine months to three years
September 2025: 30 hours of free childcare for working parents of children aged nine months to primary school age.
For employers and HR professionals, understanding how flexible working practices can help working parents return to the workplace is essential.
The key takeaway points for employers and HR professionals are to:
- Address workplace accessibility which encourages a diverse and inclusive workforce
- Understand and implement occupational health in the workplace to support people
- Invest in training to address the needs of all people and to keep their skills relevant in the workplace
- Create and promote flexibility through working practices.
At Nordens, we take great pride in promoting and improving workplace practices for the greater good. As such, we can introduce employers to affordable HR advice to help with all matters relating to HR. This can help increase accessibility and flexibility within a company, whilst creating a structure that allows employees and employers to feel comfortable and heard. If this sounds of interest then get into contact with our HR Manager, Sharon Brooks, who’ll be able to outline exactly how we can help make the workplace a better and more well-rounded place.
We hope this has explained how the Spring Budget 2023 announcements could impact HR professionals and employers. If you’d like to know any further information on anything mentioned, or anything accounting related for that matter, please do not hesitate to get in contact with us at Nordens, where one of our trusted advisors would be happy talking you through your query.