Gordon Brown’s final Budget was “lacklustre” and contained little to interest the HR community, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) said last week.
Headline-grabbing tax cuts for workers and businesses were mixed with broad commitments to improve funding for education and training, lone parents and work, and local employment partnerships.
Details of how the government plans to implement the recommendations of the Leitch Review of Skills will not be published until the summer, however.
John Philpott, CIPD chief economist, said: “The Budget contains some interesting items, but overall it is lacklustre. The CIPD is most encouraged by the welfare-to-work provisions, which echo some of the approaches the CIPD has been recommending as ways of helping employers make better use of the existing large groups of ‘core jobless’.”
Local employment partnerships between large retailers and JobcentrePlus will experiment with short work trials, higher recruitment subsidies, employer mentoring and the reform of job application procedures.
“If well designed, these could provide a model for non-retail employers too,” Philpott said.
Trade unions were angered by Brown’s announcement that there would be further public sector job cuts.
Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services Union, said: “The chancellor has signalled yet more cuts and conducted a U-turn on his acceptance that going further than Gershon’s [efficiency] recommendations would put the delivery of front-line services at risk.”
There was a boost for 125,000 people who lost their workplace pensions with an extra £6bn of funding for the Financial Assistance Scheme.
Employer groups’ responses to the budget
Budget responses from employer groups now compete for column inches in a battle of the soundbites.
- The Forum for Private Business said the chancellor used “smoke and mirrors” to disguise a lack of support for small businesses.
- The CIPD said it was a “cut-and-paste” Budget taken from other political parties’ policies, while the CBI warned that businesses would not be “popping the champagne corks” as a result.
- The EEF, meanwhile, got a little evangelical, saying that what Brown “gives with one hand, he takes away with the other”.