Budget may include direct subsidy for apprentices

A direct subsidy scheme for businesses to help them bring new apprentices into the workplace is likely to be announced in next week’s Budget, accountants have claimed.

Alongside several measures aimed at giving help to struggling employers being forced to make job cuts, accountancy firm PKF has said the Budget will have a clear focus on helping businesses improve staff skills during the recession ready for the upturn.

Its Budget prediction said: “It is likely to prove very difficult to encourage employers to take on new staff at present, but we may see some form of direct subsidy to encourage small employers to take on new apprentices.”

The summary added that the Budget could encourage employers to adopt more share schemes as tools to help reward, motivate and retain their staff at low cost. “With bonuses very much out of favour, it may be time to make it easier for employers to use these schemes by increasing the value limits,” it said.

Many accountancy firms are predicting that help will be given to employees who have been made redundant during the recession. Accounting firm Tenon has suggested that a cut in the rate of employer’s national insurance could be announced, to make employment a more attractive option, and act as an incentive for employers to take on those currently unemployed.

However, PKF said employers may not benefit from direct financial support. The firm said: “It is expected that the 2009 Budget announcements will be promoted as a ‘Budget for jobs’. Funds will probably be made available for schemes that help individuals back into work through job centres and training. However, it is not clear how much, if any, new support will be offered to employers.”

Other measures that might be outlined in the Budget could include support for companies in retraining or relocating personnel during the recession, or tax breaks on training schemes.

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