Ben Willmott, head of public policy for the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, has commented in response to the Chancellor’s Growth Plan 2022:

On the Energy Bill Relief Scheme:

"The Energy Bill Relief Scheme will support the ongoing viability of many firms over the winter and no doubt save thousands of jobs. However, it’s crucial that the Government is ready to extend this beyond the initial six months and provide targeted assistance to employers under the most pressure if energy costs remain very high levels or spiral further. As we learnt with furlough, it’s vital businesses have a clear view of what support will be available to them in good time so they can make the right decisions for their organisation and avoid unnecessary job cuts."

On securing growth through tax cuts:

"The Government cannot expect tax cuts alone to stimulate growth across the economy. It needs to have a broader plan to boost business productivity by making key reforms to skills and other areas of policy that can boost employers’ investment in training, people management capability and new technology. Reforming the failing Apprenticeship Levy and working with the regions to radically improve locally delivered business support services would be good places to start."

On the reversal of the employer NICS increase:

"The Government decision not to push ahead with the planned increase to employer National Insurance contributions will be welcomed by many employers. We’d urge employers, where they can, to reinvest this back into supporting their people at this difficult time. Some employers have already told us they intend to use the money that would have been spent on this to help their employees during the cost of living crisis. For example, by funding a higher pay rise, a one off cost-of-living bonus, or other financial wellbeing benefits such as an increase in employer pension contributions."

On removing the bankers’ bonus cap:

"At a time when so many people’s wages and incomes are falling behind inflation, the decision to lift the cap on bankers’ bonuses is unlikely to be understood or agreed with beyond the very few that will directly benefit. There are also questions over its effectiveness as a means of boosting performance and growth, and whether the behaviours it incentivises could reignite the sort of risk taking among financiers that led to the financial crisis. Rather than rewarding the few, businesses should be thinking about how they can lift pay and reward for all their workers."

On measures to get claimants back into work:

"The bespoke support announced to help benefit claimants get back into work and earn more is positive. However, the Government must recognise that many people seeking work or to earn more money need access to flexible jobs, for example, if they have caring responsibilities or health conditions. Evidence shows that working parents, carers and older workers particularly value, and are more likely to need, flexible working, highlighting the importance of the Government meeting its previous commitment to help create more flexible workplaces. Any measures to incentivise people to seek work or to earn more would need to be proportionate and recognise the individual circumstances of claimants."

On a review of business regulation:

"It’s important that any forthcoming review of business regulation alluded to by the Chancellor does not include plans for unnecessary tinkering with employment laws. The UK is already one of the more lightly regulated labour markets among developed economies, with a high proportion of workers in permanent employment and lower than average unemployment. Business surveys consistently show that most employers, including SMEs, don’t regard employment regulation as a significant obstacle to growth, so are unlikely to welcome or benefit from changes to legislation in this area. A more productive first step for the Government would be to deliver on previous commitments to improve labour market enforcement and support the creation of more flexible workplaces. These changes would help raise employment standards overall, create better-quality jobs and underpin a push for growth."

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