Dubbed the ‘Back to Work Budget’, yesterday’s announcement brought positive news for some groups, like parents struggling to get back into the workforce due to childcare costs and older people thinking of returning to work.
But while these statements grabbed the headlines, other announcements were also made that signalled positive moves for technology and innovation within the UK.
We’ve rounded up some key take aways that could influence your sector or business:
The childcare budget expansion is a positive sign for many parents eager to re-enter the workforce, and grandparents too – who may also be looking to return to work, or will have to pick up less of the childcare duties themselves.
The Government has also recognised the impact that our ways of working now has on our mental and physical health. Sitting for long hours is known to cause back pain, and we are now all too familiar with the term burnout – thanks the ‘always on’ work culture that some industries experience. In response, the Government has announced a £400m budget for mental health and muscular skeletal support for occupational health – however some claim this is treating the symptoms not the cause of the issue.
According to global assurance partner LRQA, the Government’s confirmation of nuclear as environmentally sustainable “removes an element of uncertainty and will enable the UK to continue to advance the nuclear agenda in the long term.”
As Hunt has stated, nuclear is an important part of the energy mix needed to reach the UK’s zero carbon reduction targets and it is hoped that the Small Modular Reactors being developed by companies such as Rolls Royce will help overcome some of the previous barriers to adoption. It will be interesting to see whether the new funding can help to fast-track the development of carbon capture and storage.
There was no reform to the apprenticeships levy, but the Chancellor announced the rollout of new apprenticeships targeted at over 50s called ‘returnships’. These will be based on existing programs made more appealing for older workers. They will be focused on flexibility and previous experience to reduce training length. HIT Training Ltd has long been an advocate of more flexible apprenticeship styles, including front-loading training, to ensure apprenticeship training works better for both businesses and learners.
Quantum and AI funding
It’s good to see a massive £2.5bn investment into quantum computing ahead of the opening of the National Quantum Computing Centre on Harwell Campus this summer. The campus is already a focal point of the UK Space Industry and is home to Element Six, the world’s leading producer of quantum grade synthetic diamond.
Flexible workforce specialist Brookson Group has welcomed the increase in the annual pension allowance from £40,000 to £60,000 as a benefit to all high earners. MD Matt Fryer says: “In my view it is likely to attract some over 50s back into contracting, even into inside IR35 contracts via umbrella companies.”
Tax relief for film, television, animation and gaming
It’s good to see the chancellor recognise the contribution of the creative industries to the economy, acknowledged through tax credits for film, television, animation and gaming. This is good news for Ravensbourne University London, which nurtures talent for the creative economy, but this relief must now be further supported with an education policy and funding that recognises the importance of specialist and digital skills for these industries.
We’ll be continuing to monitor the headlines in our daily news conferences to ensure we have a finger on the pulse of all updates that could impact our clients and their customers.
Stay tuned for more updates!