As recruitment consultants, we speak with the spectrum of workers daily from employees to employers, contractors and self-employed personnel to Ltd company owners. All of whom are directly affected by the budget’s biggest talking points, NICs, Returnships & the future of tech talent.
National insurance hike for self-employed: CALLED OFF!
In an unprecedented u-turn, the chancellor has called off the hike in National Insurance contributions for self-employed workers which would have increased national insurance contributions from 9% to 11% by 2019. The increase had been hotly contested and labelled as a ‘strategic blunder’ by those who believed it would deter our most entrepreneurial talent. Those begrudgingly acceptant of the proposed NI increase felt, optimistically, that it may indicate that the government was moving towards funded parental leave for self-employed workers. There has been no update on whether this will go ahead following the cancellation of the national insurance increase. Many of our self-employed contractors can rejoice at the good news!
Historically, self-employed workers pay less National Insurance contributions than employee’s doing the same work, because they have chosen to forgo the benefits that being an employee entails: holiday, sick pay, parental leave and terms for dismissal, to build a contract which is more flexible to their working arrangements. The chancellor's reasons for cancelling the NI hike are stated as that he and the Prime Minister wished to adhere to the spirit of their 2015 manifesto which put a lock on national insurance contributions. He also stated that the "clear view among colleagues and a significant section of the public" critiquing the budget's stance on national insurance has led to his reconsideration.
The Future of Tech Talent
Investment in technical education for 16-19-year-olds will rise to over £500m with focussed T-Levels for technical students. In 2016 only 5,600 students studied Computer Science at A-Level (only 600 of which were female) vs 31,000 doing Sociology. Adam Hale, CEO of Fairsail, notes that “We could be aiming at least a tenfold increase in the next 5 years with at least 30% female”. We have a chronic shortage of IT talent in the UK, which isn’t being specifically addressed, as we’d hoped. Alongside a gradual decline in tech talent from the EU, we need to invest heavily in providing provisions for growing our own talent and closing the gender gap, to prevent a critical shortage.
Often talked of as part of the International Women’s Day parcel, the government has pledged a £5M contribution to help those returning to work after a career break. This will aim to support parents returning to work after starting a family, which was unveiled on Mumsnet earlier in the week. While the sentiment is great, we’re sceptical at how much provision £5M will cover. A bigger investment would pay for itself with more people in the workplace and earn taxable incomes. There has also been a lot of backlash on the lack of clarity on exactly what this will look like and how it will be spent to help returning workers.
If you have questions on your contract, employability status or are an employer looking to grow your team- get in touch!