Lancashire’s woman in business and Federation of Business Employment Policy Chair invited to join a new government cross-industry group of selected employers and business representatives.
Saira Hussain runs a female-led architectural, planning and property practice, HAD & CO, with practices in Burnley, Blackburn and Manchester, she is also the employment, self
employment and pensions policy chair at the FSB.
The Spring Budget contained several important labour market-focused measures, which aim to help more people to start, stay and succeed in work. Economic inactivity was a key focus, and DWP looked in depth at this issue leading up to the Budget announcement. Their close engagement with employers and business representatives was an important part of this work and the policy development.
The government wants to ensure employers have the supply of labour they need to be
successful, and they are continuously looking to build relationships with the business
community. Their engagement with employers helps them to understand the issues that are important and informs their policy development.
The meeting was hosted by Ms Deen, DWP Director General of Labour Market Policy and
Key points from a small business employers perspective are as follows:
• There is a lot of focus on individuals as benefit claimants, jobseekers and possible re-entrants to the labour market. This is welcome, and we certainly support initiatives such as
skills bootcamps. But more could be done to work with employers on what they need and
to make the system more responsive to those needs.
• The focus on health and disability is also welcome, but there is more that can be done here to support employers who want to take on disabled employees or those dealing with long-term health issues. Statutory Sick Pay, for example, which used to be rebated for small companies but now acts as a financial disincentive to work with those who regularly take time off for sickness.
• Government seems to ignore self-employment as an option when considering those who are on benefits and/or economically inactive – schemes which used to support people to start new businesses are no longer there. The New Enterprise Allowance for example, which could be brought back at relatively low cost.
Meeting quarterly, the Engagement Group will ensure we are having regular strategic discussions with leading employers and business representatives at a senior level.
Meetings will be an opportunity for employers and business representatives to share their insight with government, highlight current trends and concerns in the labour market, and for the department to share its labour market priorities and seek views.