I was pleased with some of the announcements in yesterday’s budget by Chancellor George Osborne. It was encouraging to hear the government’s commitment to the scrapping of £350 million of business regulation, the 2% reduction in corporation tax and the 40,000 new apprenticeships for young people out of work. But I can’t help thinking that more practical steps could be taken to boost job creation within the wider workforce.
It is positive to see plans to address skills shortages with an investment of £300 million to include 100,000 work experience placements for young people. But this strategy will only succeed in reducing the skills gap and high levels of unemployment if confidence is built and maintained within the private sector so that it can generate the jobs needed. This scheme will only be effective if there are guaranteed jobs at the end of the work placements, and that requires more focus on employment to give companies a stronger incentive to take on staff and help the economic recovery.
I would like to have seen more specific incentives for businesses that enable employment opportunities to be created. Cutting the mountain of employment law red tape will help but further incentives are needed to assist companies to invest in new staff. The Chancellor missed an important opportunity to give employers more confidence by cancelling the remainder of the planned employer National Insurance Contributions rise, and he failed to address the barriers within the benefits system which prevent unemployed people taking on short-term job opportunities.
Overall the budget has delivered an encouraging boost for business. Despite the difficult economic conditions the Chancellor has prioritised business growth. I hope his proposals to scrap restrictive employment legislation are implemented quickly and any future regulation will support employers and employees.