Budget 2009 | It’ll leave you gasping for air

Lots of questions about what the 2009 Budget will entail, and at the moment, your guess is as good as mine. Actually, probably not as good, but not far off.

Sunday will likely see a few leaks from Wednesday’s Budget, but nothing that will blow employers away.

Most of the interesting stuff with immediate impact was announced in the Pre-Budget Report last year, somewhere in the vicinity of £20bn.

And with the Chancellor set to reveal a national deficit of £175bn (far and away above his “rose-coloured” prediction of around £100bn last year), employers can bet their bottom dollar (or pound or Euro or whatever you haven’t already spent yet) that there will be no new money.

Nigel Meager, director of the Institute for Employment Studies, said
the government agenda should be all about helping prepare employers and
the unemployed for the upturn.

“Training programmes are an option, but we know from past experience
that training programmes for the unemployed tend to be expensive and
evidence suggests they don’t make much difference in getting people
into jobs,” he told me.

“People aren’t losing jobs because they’re not skilled enough – it’s
because they can’t be afforded to be kept on. So I’ll be sceptical if
the government puts all or most of its emphasis on training programmes
rather than trying to keep existing people in work.”

One way that was suggested was forking over cash to employers for short
time working, something recommended by the TUC, BCC and FSB, among
other employer bodies.

The CIPD was originally for it in October, but recent research has
tipped the flow of job cuts to become a trickle after this month, which
means the government would in a sense be giving free money to employers
who weren’t going to slash jobs anyway.

So don’t hold your breath for anything big on Wednesday. Unless it’s
for deficits. In which case, you might want to inhale some G&T while you’re at it because experts think this will be a long and painful hangover.

And what’s the fun of a hangover if you didn’t get to drink before it?

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