Rishi Sunak, Chancellor of the Exchequer, has delivered his Autumn 2021 Budget with a theme of “levelling up”. His overriding focus was the idea of the country levelling up and a new post-COVID economy delivering higher wages and better skills levels. While many of the core announcements have been discussed previously, they have been officially announced and can be something to look forward towards.
The Chancellor stated his belief in the current Plan for Jobs and that is it working as he said in his own words:
“Today’s Budget delivers a stronger economy for the British people: stronger growth, with the UK economy recovering faster than our major competitors. Stronger public finances, with our national debt finally under control. Stronger employment, with fewer people out of work and more people in work.”
How this translates into practice was laid out in the rest of his announcement.
The government has pledged £150 million for training and development in the Early Years workforce, providing more funding for those wanting to study in childcare and early education. They also committed £2 billion more for Education Recovery in schools and colleges, creating a fund which now reaches £4.7 billion. This is all embedded in the core schools’ budget to help aid recovery and catch-up in the formal education system over the coming three years.
The Launch of Multiply
We mentioned this in our last blog post, but the government has now officially announced the launch of the Multiply scheme. A £560 million fund has been put aside to run the project. Multiply is designed to increase numeracy and basic maths skills for UK adults. Up to 500,000 people will benefit from the scheme as it offers free personal tutoring, digital education sessions and flexible training opportunities. Government estimates suggest as many as 8 million adults in the UK have numeracy skills lower than expected of a nine-year-old, with our region, the North East, considered one of the hardest hit.
Skills and Training Budget Boost
Sunak highlighted his belief in the success of the Plan For Jobs and is aiming to work on this with additional funding. £6 billion of funding is available to the Department for Work and Pensions over the next three years with the focus on boosting people’s skills and finding them work. The funding should help people earn more and gain the right skills they need to find adequate employment. Skills funding is increasing by £3.8 billion in total which will allow for the four times more places on Skills Bootcamps and an expansion of the free Level 3 qualifications training provision currently available.
Making work Pay
The current government regularly utilise the slogan “make work pay” and their increase of the National Living Wage to £9.50 from April 2022 is designed to reflect this. They have also confirmed cutting the Universal Credit tape from 63p to 55p and increasing work allowances on Universal Credit by £500 per year. Their aim with these policies is to encourage more people into the workplace.
Alongside the Plan for Jobs, the government is also investing in their Plan for Growth. This means investment in innovation and skills at a higher skill level. With the aim of creating high wage and high skilled job opportunities, public investment in Research and Development will reach £20 billion by 2025. A new UK Global Talent Network is also going to work alongside businesses and research facilities to identify and attract the best global talent to work in the UK’s technology and science sectors.
The Autumn Budget and Spending Review has put in place some ambitious measures which should positively impact the skills and training opportunities in the UK. Let’s look to see how we can make the most of the opportunities as they are rolled out.