Budget 2014: Swindon Initiative urges Chancellor to focus on training, education and skills

March 11, 2014

Youth employment, training and enterprise must be priorities for Chancellor George Osborne in next week’s Budget, according to Business West, the business support organisation that runs the Swindon & Wiltshire Initiative.

Business West, in its submission to the 2014 Budget, said these three issues were essential to secure growth and avoiding a ‘lost generation’ as the UK economy continues to recover.

It said it was responding to members’ concerns about the work readiness of young people and a deficient education, training and skills system which had resulted in a troubled labour market, high social costs and increased youth unemployment.

Swindon & Wiltshire Initiative director Ian Larrard, pictured, said: “We support the proposals from the British Chambers of Commerce for the Budget, which focus on getting young people back into work.

“Although both total unemployment and youth unemployment in our region remain below the national average, youth unemployment at 20.2% still remains far above the total unemployment figure of 6.5%.

“This issue must be addressed to bring the ‘lost generation’ back into the South West economy.

“Our submission to the Chancellor proposes a new £100m Future Workforce Grant scheme, a two-year extension to the successful Apprenticeship Grant for Employers and increased tax relief. 

“Together these three things will encourage investment in young entrepreneurs and kick start growth by bridging the skills gap between education and business.”

Business West also calls on the Chancellor in next Wednesday’s Budget to review the:

  • ‘broken’ business finance system, leading to constrained access to finance for growth businesses
  • politicised decision-making that undermines the funding and delivery of crucial major infrastructure projects
  • under-resourced programme of support for global trade and export, which is critical to a fundamental rebalancing of the UK economy

Business West plans to make wider proposals for economic reform in the autumn.

Mr Larrard added: “We all know that politicians are already looking to manifestos and the 2015 General Election.

“But the crisis of confidence separating employers and young people can’t wait for political posturing or the electoral cycle. Businesses across the West of England tell me they want to hire young people. Yet many cannot afford to take the risk, especially at a time when other, more qualified applicants are coming forward for the job vacancies on offer.

“If the Chancellor wants to avoid a lost generation among today’s 16-to-24 year olds, he must use the Budget to help businesses take on and train up young people, whether they are going straight into jobs or into apprenticeships. He should also extend tax incentives for individuals with deep pockets who invest in businesses started up by school and college leavers and graduates.

“The Chancellor rightly wants to boost business investment in this year’s Budget and we support measures to do this, but not just for plant and machinery. We know there are many serious structural issues that need to be addressed to create a truly great UK economy, but not all of them can be resolved at this point in the political and economic cycle.

“Getting young people into employment is vital, pressing, and easily affordable right now.”

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