Ben Willmott, head of public policy for the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, said:

On investment in skills and productivity 

“The announcement that the Apprenticeship Levy will be reviewed as part of a push to unlock greater business investment in skills and technology is long overdue but presents a real opportunity to rethink how to boost employer investment in skills.

“However, more needs to be done to encourage and enable employers across the economy to invest more in technology, management capability and workforce development to boost firm-level performance and real wages.

“In particular, there’s a pressing need to improve local business support services for smaller businesses, as well as further thinking on how employers can meaningfully engage with the further education system and on other key areas of skills policy.”

On tackling the cost-of-living crisis 

“While the increase in NICs threshold goes some way to help support working people, it’s disappointing nothing is being done to reform Statutory Sick Pay. Workers shouldn’t have to make a choice between their health and earning a wage, especially as the pandemic continues and infections remain very high. To ensure all workers can afford to recuperate and isolate when unwell, there is an urgent need for the Government to review Statutory Sick Pay with a view to raising it to at least the equivalent of someone earning the National Minimum Wage or National Living Wage.

“While there are many contributing factors to the cost-of-living crisis - and Government has the levers to make the biggest difference – employers also have a responsibility. They may not be able to protect their workers entirely from rising costs, but they can help them weather the storm better by making sure they pay a fair and liveable wage. Employers can also offer financial wellbeing support for example by signposting to sources of money and debt management guidance.”

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