31 March 2023
‘Returnerships’ for over 50’s to tackle labour market supply issues in the UK economy
Jeremy Hunt has his sights on the over 50s. In his Spring Budget statement, the Chancellor announced his plans for this group of experienced workers, including making it easier for those wanting to return to the workplace and supporting those wanting to carry on working for longer.
He has announced pension incentives for workers wishing to continue in employment, so that it makes sound financial sense for them to do so. New-style apprenticeships, aimed specifically at those who may have taken a career break, named ‘returnerships’, were also announced. These returnerships will operate alongside existing training programmes but will be specifically aimed at older workers.
Help for the long-term sick and disabled
The chancellor also outlined support for disabled people and those on long-term sickness absence. He referenced the introduction of technology such as Zoom and Teams, along with new post-pandemic working models that make it easier for those with a health condition to access appropriate jobs and continue working. The Government will introduce several programmes and funding regimes to help people find jobs and stay in work.
Free childcare by 2025 for working parents with children from nine months old
As a result of this budget, there is to be a huge boost in government investment for childcare provision. It was particularly interesting to hear the Chancellor recognise that ‘for many a career break becomes a career end’ due to the very expensive cost of childcare in the UK. For decades, this has been a barrier for many, especially women, wanting to return to work after a period of family leave.
The Government has promised it will provide 30 hours a week of childcare for working parents with children (over nine months old), starting at the end of maternity or paternity leave. The Government estimates this to be worth approximately £6,500 per annum for a family with a two-year-old, using 35 hours of childcare per week. These measures will be phased in over the years, 2023–2025.
Over time, this should improve female participation across an organisation and support women in leadership positions. In the long term, it may have a positive impact on gender pay parity as well.
More hybrid and flexible working arrangements
For the above interventions to be successful, the progress that has been made around hybrid and flexible working will need to continue. Workplaces that can offer these types of working arrangements and make them work are more likely to attract and retain a diverse workforce.