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Yesterday’s Autumn Statement certainly had a different feel to it compared to the Mini-budget (and the U-turn that followed) announcement just a couple of months ago.

In order to create the growth and economic support the country so desperately needs right now, the government focussed on public spending restraint and tax rises.

In response to the Autumn Statement, Neil Carberry, REC Chief Executive said, “The Autumn Statement was rooted in the reality of the country’s economic position – that alone is a step on from earlier in the Autumn. The need for growth is obvious, and today’s statement showed the hard work that needs to be done.

“On both economic inactivity and workforce planning for our public services, admitting the problems we face is a long overdue step. The REC pointed these out in our Overcoming Shortages work earlier in the summer, and we are ready to help now. But solutions cannot be handed down from Whitehall – they need to be developed with businesses, workers, and public sector employers. That will be the test of this plan.”

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Neil added, “The Government also needs to be ready to accept tough feedback, including when schemes are damaging the situation, like the Apprenticeship Levy which was not mentioned by the Chancellor today.

“We’ll look forward to working with Sir Michael Barber on a skills system that meets the needs of workers and companies, not just the Treasury. We’ll also be looking for more acknowledgement than we saw today of the vital role of services beyond finance in driving the UK economy.

“The Chancellor was right to reject large-scale immediate tax rises for businesses, who need to drive our recovery from here. And the promised changes on Business Rates represent a positive story – as does the renewed commitment on infrastructure.

“But high inflation is a huge challenge to businesses, including growing pay bills, so the freeze in National Insurance thresholds will need to be carefully watched, as it falls most heavily on hard pressed labour-intensive industries.”

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