Brown’s Budget plans get thumbs up from business

Chancellor Gordon Brown’s Budget proposals to increase staff training, cut
business red tape and tackle unemployment, have been broadly welcomed by
employer bodies.

Brown’s Budget outlined a raft of new training initiatives, including
extending the Emp-loyer Training Pilots, which is likely to be formalised as
part of the Government’s skills strategy White Paper due in the summer.

The programme gives state aid to employers who give staff time off to train,
and could eventually cost the treasury £1bn a year.

John Philpott, chief economist at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and
Development (CIPD), said the extension of the pilot initiative would help
skills development.

He said he would have liked a clearer signal from the chancellor on the
issue of whether employers should be forced to give time off for training, and
added that employers need to realise up-skilling staff is in their interests.

"The purpose of the exercise is skills increase. Business may be
worried about taking in temps and that the training is not on target, but they
need to upscale their staff’s abilities," he said.

Other measures in the budget include a proposal to give greater discretion
to local job centre managers to be innovative, and an additional emphasis on
jobless people to search for and travel to work.

Philpott said: "The welfare-to-work measures contained in this year’s
Budget are the most substantial since Mr Brown’s first Budget in 1997. They
offer the best hope of tackling the deep local pockets of joblessness that
blight every region of the UK."

The Government also plans to shift from a national setting to regional and
local pay settings within the public sector, to reflect local differences in
inflation and labour market pressures. This was backed by both the CIPD and the
CBI.

Importantly, Brown also announced that the UK should resist unnecessary
regulations, such as the working time directive, which have an impact on job
creation in the UK.

By Quentin Reade

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