REC response to the Spring Statement

Neil Carberry, chief executive of the Recruitment & Employment Confederation, responding to the Chancellor Philip Hammond’s Spring Statement, said:

“Businesses will welcome the pragmatic tone that the Chancellor brought to the Spring Statement – especially his strong support for a well-regulated market economy as the primary driver of national prosperity. His case against a no-deal Brexit enjoys the support of a strong majority of recruiters, who are the UK’s jobs experts.

“Good regulation is at the heart of government action on jobs, so firms will also welcome the commitment to consulting on the future of the National Living Wage. Recruiters also want the Chancellor to listen to firms on upcoming tax changes for contractors to deliver a level-playing field. Without clients taking responsibility for contractors paying the right tax, law-abiding firms may be undercut. REC will make this point forcefully in the run-up to the Budget.

“The Chancellor’s recognition of the resilience of the UK labour market was hugely welcome. With 600,000 new jobs to fill by 2023, addressing skills policies will be vital. We will be interested to see what the National Retraining Scheme looks like in practice as REC members will have a big role to play. And while it is good news that the limited package of reforms to apprenticeships announced in the last Budget are to be brought forward, we still need to have the debate about changing the failing apprenticeship levy policy into a flexible skills levy that really works for business and workers.

“Even if we get skills changes right, UK competitiveness needs to be backed up with flexible immigration policies that meet our economy’s needs. There were some welcome steps today – but the real test is an open approach to attracting people to work in the UK after Brexit. REC data shows that candidate availability has been falling month-on-month in the last year.”