Jeremy Hunt delivered his first budget since becoming Chancellor this week, with a primary focus on getting Britain ‘back into work’. Here are some of the key points for Employers and HR to consider;
Expansion of free childcare
Significant reforms to childcare to encourage parents return to work. This is a game changer and something I personally can relate to, having lost a few integral members of my team in the past, when they have children, because they could not afford the childcare to return to work.
Working parents of children aged three to four are currently entitled to 15 hours of free childcare a week, or 30 if both parents are in work and earn at least the national minimum wage. The government will expand this support to working parents of children over the age of nine months by September 2025. Sadly, the phased nature of these reforms means they will not come into effect until April 2024 at the earliest, so many parents of young children will not benefit.
The Chancellor also pledged to fund schools and local authorities to increase ‘wraparound’ care for working parents to allow parents to work longer hours without incurring costly childcare bills.
Apprenticeships for over 50s
In an effort to attract the over 50s back into the labour market, the government will launch a new type of apprenticeship- ‘returnships’. This will offer skills training tailored for the over 50s taking previous experience into account.
The Government will add a further 8,000 places per year to its skills bootcamps which reskill people in sectors such as construction and technology.
Back to work
A new voluntary employment scheme for disabled people and those with health conditions, called universal support, will be funded in England and Wales. Up to £4000 per person will be invested to support 50,000 people per year to find a suitable role to cater to their needs.
Tackle health issues keeping people out of work.
Hunt revealed a £406m plan to tackle health issues keeping people out of work, with a particular focus on mental health, musculoskeletal conditions and cardiovascular disease. It was acknowledged that Occupational health play an important role and he plans to bring forward two consultations on how to improve the ‘instant availability’ for the support and double funding for SMEs.
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