Summer Statement aims at boosting jobs and consumer demand
A wide range of economic interventions from the Government seeks to reinvigorate the jobs market and boost consumer demand.
COVID-19 is first of all a health crisis, but the measures taken to address the public health situation have resulted in huge economic fallout with reverberations likely to be felt far into the future.
To mitigate this the UK Government has brought forward unprecedented levels of financial support in the form of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans (CBILS), and funding for innovative and high-growth firms through the Future Fund and Innovate UK package.
As the social and economic restrictions of the pandemic are reviewed and we look towards the economic recovery, the Government is now setting out a roadmap to wind down the job retention scheme with a simultaneous strategy to restart the economy and boost employment.
Today’s statement, which the Chancellor said is the second in a three-part package to combat the impacts of COVID-19, was rightly focused on those sectors most heavily hit by the lockdown and therefore needing the most support to reopen and restore demand.
In this two-part package to kickstart employment and stimulate demand there were some important announcements for the tech sector:
Kickstarting employment and job growth:
New apprenticeship funding: Government will provide £2,000 to employers for each new apprentice they hire aged under 25, between August 2020 and January 2021, and will create a new payment of £1,500 for each new apprentice they hire aged over 25, between August 2020 and January 2021.
Apprenticeships should be at the heart of the strategy to level up skills across the UK, but there is more we can do to enable businesses to attract and retain diverse talent and prepare them with the skills they need. As we look forward to a Budget and Spending Review in the Autumn techUK will want to see a review of the apprenticeship levy to ensure it is delivering the most value for money and boosting apprenticeship starts in growing and future-facing sectors like technology.
New Kickstart scheme: Government will introduce a new Kickstart Scheme in Great Britain, a £2 billion fund to create hundreds of thousands of high-quality six-month work placements aimed at those aged 16-24 who are on Universal Credit and are deemed to be at risk of long-term unemployment.
Funding available for each job will cover 100% of the relevant National Minimum Wage for 25 hours a week, plus the associated employer National Insurance contributions and employer minimum automatic enrolment contributions.
Funding to retain workers with a Job Retention Bonus: Government will introduce a one-off payment of £1,000 to UK employers for every furloughed employee who is brought back and remains continuously employed through to the end of January 2021, with payments being made from February 2021. Further detail about the scheme will be announced by the end of July.
A job finding support service: the government will provide £40 million to fund private sector capacity to introduce a job finding support service in Great Britain in the autumn. This online, one-to-one service will help those who have been unemployed for less than three months increase their chances of finding employment.
As demand in sectors shift, employees will need support to be quickly matched to new job opportunities. techUK has called for a digital skills platform to help identify jobs in the digital sector to help workers find highly-productive digital jobs. This funding is welcome, and techUK will continue to work with the Government to ensure that job finding schemes are supported by central Government to ensure wide ranging take-up. The Government’s Skills Toolkit, an online skills signposting platform launched at the end of April, has seen tens of thousands of people who have signed up for the high quality digital courses offered, with more than 136,000 starts on courses. The significant demand for and success of this platform demonstrates a need to build provisions around upskilling and reskilling to maintain this momentum.
Stimulating demand in the economy:
Green Homes Grant: Government will introduce a £2 billion Green Homes Grant, providing up to £5,000 per household to improve energy efficiency.
For those on the lowest incomes, the scheme will fully fund energy efficiency measures of up to £10,000 per household. In total this could support over 100,000 green jobs and help strengthen a supply chain that will be vital for meeting our target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
The government will also provide £1bn to improve the energy efficiency of public sector buildings and £50m to trial options to decarbonise social housing. This support is hugely important as the installation of efficient heating technologies such as heat pumps and smart energy technologies can significantly increase energy efficiency in homes and help the UK meet its net zero targets.
Court modernisation: The Chancellor has provided some additional detail on the Prime Ministers commitment to modernize the courts. The Government will invest £102 million to modernise the court estate in England and Wales. This will include £37 million for technology investment to fast-track the digitalisation of the courts.
The package announced by the Government is welcome and provides initial relief to hard hit sectors while also further developing the pathway to employment for furloughed workers who are returning to work, as well as recent school, college, and university leavers.
techUK will continue to work with the Government as it seeks to rebuild the economy post COVID-19. We look forward to working closely with the Chancellor and his team as he prepares for the third part of his response to the economic crisis in the Autumn Budget and spending review.
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