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PRIME Cymru responds to Spring Budget

PRIME Cymru welcomes today’s announcements from the Government, focused towards encouraging older workers back into the workplace. 

The Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, has set out new measures in his ‘Back to Work’ Spring Budget, aimed at tackling the UK’s labour shortage. 

With about 1.1 million job vacancies and 9 million people currently economically inactive in the UK, Hunt hopes his reforms will help to remove any barriers preventing older workers from accessing work. 

During his speech, Mr Hunt said “older people are some of the most skilled and experienced people we have”. Designed to encourage retirees back into the workplace, his measures include: 

  • Increasing the pensions annual tax-free allowance from £40,000 to £60,000 and abolishing the Lifetime Allowance. 
  • Offering ‘Returnerships’ – apprenticeships and skills bootcamps for the over 50s who want to return to work. 
  • Enhancing the DWP Midlife MOT strategy, to ensure people get the “best possible financial, health and career guidance well ahead of retirement”. 
  • Starting a new programme – Universal Support – to help disabled people get into work. 
  • Axing the Work Capability Assessment, allowing disabled people to seek work without fear of losing financial support. 
  • Allocating £400m to making mental health and muscoskeletal resources available for workers. 
  • Extending free weekly childcare cover to 30 hours from below the age of three – eventually covering all children from the age of nine months for working parents (expected to be rolled out in Wales). 
  • Funding more wraparound care for school-age children (expected to be rolled out in Wales). 

PRIME Cymru Chief Executive, David Pugh, said: “We are delighted that efforts to encourage the over-50s, particularly those are long-term sick or disabled, and benefits claimants back into the workplace form a key plank of Mr Hunt’s budget statement.  This along with axing of the work capability benefit eligibility system will mark the biggest reform to the welfare system in a decade and will mean claimants can continue to receive the payments after they return to employment. 

“We have campaigned for the Government to focus on the over 50s who seem to have been side lined for a very long time. Since PRIME Cymru was founded in 2001, we have provided dedicated and bespoke support to economically inactive people aged 50+ to return to the work, develop a business idea or retrain to move closer to work – with great success.  

“However, there is still much more to be done to support those with often compounded barriers to returning to work. Employers’ attitudes and recruitment techniques need to be addressed to encourage more mature returning workers, health and caring responsibilities need to be catered for, and working systems need to be adaptable to access the huge number of very skilled and experienced economically inactive people out there.” 

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