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Analysis of the Autumn Statement 2023: Shaping the Path Ahead for the Recruitment IndustryDate Posted: 28 November, 2023
The Chancellor’s autumn statement has evoked a mixed response from the recruitment industry, with varying perspectives on the implications for professionals and businesses. Tania Bowers, the global public policy director at the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo), welcomed the news that HMRC is proceeding with the set-off proposals for off-payroll rules. This development, following three years of lobbying by APSCo, addresses some of the concerns related to the impact of off-payroll rules on recruiters. While it doesn’t fully alleviate the challenges faced by professional contractors, it is seen as a step toward reducing the perceived unfairness of the rules.
Bowers expressed additional satisfaction with the Chancellor’s attention to calls for expanding Investment Zones and addressing tax avoidance promoters through legislation. The decision to make full expensing permanent is expected to incentivise recruitment firms to invest in growth plans. This move comes as a positive boost for the industry, especially after a year that presented challenges following the highs of 2021 and 2022. Bowers highlighted the potential positive impact on job creation in key sectors like technology, engineering, and life sciences, which are crucial areas for APSCo members. However, concerns persist regarding the candidate skills deficit, with the absence of a comprehensive policy on technical skills and a missed opportunity to review business visas.
Neil Carberry, REC chief executive, acknowledged the Chancellor’s efforts in taking pro-business steps, despite the downgraded growth forecasts. Carberry emphasised the need for the UK to operate at full capacity for genuine progress. The announcement of a reduction in employees’ National Insurance (NI) was lauded as a positive move to make work more financially rewarding. Additionally, the extension of the Restart program and the reform of fit notes were welcomed as steps to maximise the UK’s labor force.
Carberry noted the shift of responsibility for driving growth to the private sector, emphasising the importance of a supportive framework from the public sector. While acknowledging the support and incentives provided, Carberry highlighted the need for a more comprehensive industrial strategy, particularly in crucial areas like skills development. The investments announced were deemed insufficient in addressing the challenges faced by businesses, particularly in the context of apprenticeship levy reform.
As the recruitment industry navigates the impact of the autumn statement, what specific measures do you believe would contribute most effectively to addressing the candidate skills deficit and fostering sustainable growth in the sector?