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Budget (3): Recruitment agency APSCo responds to the Chancellor’s budget
by Susie Hughes at 12:02 04/03/21 (Political News)
Agency group APSCo gave a cautious welcome to measures within the Budget which will impact on the recruitment sector - but also called for support to be fast tracked and simplified.
Off-payroll rules
Chancellor Rishi Sunak dashed any remaining slight hopes of a delay to the roll-out of the off-payroll rules (IR35) by remaining silent on the issue. ASPCo recognised that challenges that this will bring to the recruitment sector and contractor community.

Tania Bowers from APSCo said: “The looming roll out of Off Payroll into the private sector and the implementation of changes into the public sector will also place significant burden on staffing companies and the contractor community.

"And while the clarification in the draft Finance Bill and HMRC guidance published regarding the definition of an intermediary, and where the risk lies should a client subcontract an SDS addresses some of the concerns raised by APSCo previously, it doesn’t change the impact recruitment businesses and contractors will face next month.”

Wider issues
On other issues, APSCo...

  • Welcomed the extension of furlough scheme
  • Called for access to financial support to be fast tracked and simplified
  • Claimed a 'lobbying win' as Government confirms flexible apprenticeships
  • Believed that the visa reform measures could help access to international talent
  • Wanted further engagement with education recruitment sector.

Tania Bowers said: “The extension of the furlough scheme and the announcement of a new recovery loan scheme to replace the Bounce Back support is welcome news that we believe will help strengthen the UK’s employment market.

"As APSCo has highlighted before, though, access to aid such as this needs to be simplified and fast tracked. Businesses have previously faced delays and difficulties accessing support that has impacted the intended success of this aid.

“Sectors including recruitment have been significantly hard hit, and while there may soon be a return to the office in the pipeline, many face extended difficulties as the industries they service remain disrupted or even closed.

“Staffing companies have a crucial role to play in getting the UK back into work, but they must have access to the requisite financial aid to ensure they are in the best possible position to support economic growth post-pandemic. The end of the Brexit transition period and the potential challenges attracting highly skilled workers was a particular concern that we have raised, so we are pleased to see a commitment to visa reforms for the highly skilled from the Chancellor.

"While we will review the full details of the new unsponsored points-based visa system, the information revealed so far suggests that the UK will once again have easier access to highly skilled independent workers on a global scale.

"We are also pleased that our feedback regarding flexible apprenticeships has been taken on board, meaning that the flexible and contract workforce can now carry this training across multiple assignments.

"The Chancellor stated that this Budget intends to protect jobs and we are pleased to see a commitment from the Government to bolster employment numbers. The news that eight freeports will be developed to create new jobs, for example, is a move that APSCo welcomes.

“While we recognise why the Government has set aside £200 million in funds for secondary schools to deliver face-to-face summer education programmes, APSCo has already raised concerns regarding access to the teaching resources to deliver this. Supply teachers have faced extreme difficulties throughout the course of the pandemic and some have left the profession due to a lack of work and no clarity regarding furlough funds for those not on assignment.

"In order to deliver this ambitious project, the Government must work with specialist education recruiters to ensure a steady supply of permanent and supply teachers can be accessed as and when needed."

Further Budget news
Reactions from experts in the freelancing sector and further details of relevant announcements are summarised in Shout99's Political Section

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