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There have been calls for the government to use the Spring Budget to focus on more support for the UK’s temporary workforce.

The APSCo highlighted this after warning that the country’s economy is dependent on this under-supported sector, and made suggestions as to how reforms could help to tackle skills shortages, maximise productivity and enable growth.

These include:

  • Updated regulation for umbrella companies and greater work to tackle rogue umbrellas.
  • Action to exclude highly skilled workers from the Agency Workers Regulations.
  • Greater government collaboration with businesses on regional skills hubs and training.
  • Legislation to define self-employment status.
  • More flexible visas for highly-skilled workers.
  • Keeping Off-payroll (IR35) under constant review.
  • Supporting reasonable payment terms to protect SMEs within the supply chain.

Tania Bowers, Global Public Policy Director at APSCo, commented, “Insufficient access to highly skilled workers remains an issue for UK employers and this ongoing issue is holding back our economy. It’s imperative that the Government takes action that drives positive growth without significant expenditure.

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“Our proposals to change Agency Worker Regulations (AWR) to exclude independent workers on rates above a set multiple of the National Minimum Wage will help make hiring cheaper and faster for firms.

“UK business leaders are concerned about the labour market and skills investment. If the Chancellor is serious about bolstering the UK’s access to skills, our recommended reforms to apprenticeships and regional skills investment should resonate.

“Far too many staffing firms in high skilled and high compliance sectors have unspent levy pots that are going to waste. These funds should be diverted into agency worker development, modular agency worker apprenticeships, returner training and supporting skills creation in sectors such as healthcare that are desperately short of resources.

“The entrenched position on skills across policy makers needs a refocus to ensure that resources are being created and utilised appropriately. To achieve this, regulation reforms will be necessary to better accommodate the nuanced requirements of the highly skilled temporary workforce.”

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