Spring Budget must help alleviate pressure on concerningly tight labour market

March 15, 2023

Reacting to the latest ONS Labour Market figures, David Bharier, Head of Research at the British Chambers of Commerce, said:

Today’s ONS figures provide further evidence of historic tightness in the labour marketDespite a slight fall, there are still over 1.12 million vacancies across the UK. This confirms our own research that most firms are still trying to recruit staff.

Finding appropriately skilled workers is one of the top issues for businessesand many tell us that this prevents them from fulfilling orders or expandingThere are several levers which the Government can pull to ease the tightness in the market.

Firstly, alleviating childcare costs could give greater flexibility to those looking to return to the labour market. The Government’s plan in tomorrow’s Budget to start paying childcare costs on Universal Credit up front is positive newsbut further tax relief on childcare costs and reforms to increase childcare capacity are also needed.

Secondly, there needs to be a fuller explanation of the causes of the significant number of people out of employment due to long-term illness in order for Government and businesses to invest in the right occupational health services. Occupational health services should also be made a non-taxable benefit in kind.

Finally, as the BCC has repeatedly said over the last year, Government must reform the Shortage Occupation List to help firms fill urgent job vacancies from outside the UK when they cannot recruit locally.