It’s no secret that most sectors of the UK economy have been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, with companies across the UK having essentially paused hiring for close to a year now, recruitment has arguably been hit harder than most.
It is no wonder, then, that recruiters would have been eager to hear what Chancellor Rishi Sunak had to offer in last week’s spring budget. On the whole, the budget offered several initiatives that could benefit recruiters and business owners as they look to get hiring again as the economy begins to reopen this spring.
Most obviously, several measures should directly contribute to a revival of business confidence and potentially encourage hiring. These include the extension of business support schemes such as furlough, as well as the announcement of the new £5 billion restart grant and the Recovery Scheme, which will offer businesses of any size 80% government-backed loans of between £25k-£10m.
However, there have been calls for these schemes to be simplified and expedited in order for them to make a real difference to business confidence, with previous initiatives like the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) having been criticised for being slow and difficult to access.
Elsewhere, the Chancellor announced further incentives that should encourage businesses to resume hiring. Most notably the announcement that businesses that hire new apprentices between April 1 and September 30 2021 will receive £3,000 for each new hire.
However, one element of the budget that could negatively impact the jobs market as the UK moves out of the pandemic was the lack of support for limited company owners.
Neil Carberry, Chief Executive of the REC, commented: “What we needed from this budget was a clearer strategy for tackling unemployment and resourcing growth. There was little on the skills transition this requires, including reforming the failed Apprenticeship Levy so that it supports rather than hinders training. Likewise, at a time when business tax is rising overall, cutting the tax on jobs – employers’ national insurance – would have helped to tackle unemployment.”
Author: Steven English