A tax break from the government regarding national insurance was promised in the Conservative manifesto.
The current threshold sees employees and the self-employed paying contributions once they earn £166 a week, equivalent to an annual salary of £8,632 a year. From April, you start paying when earning £9,500.
That will mean 500,000 people will no longer have to pay this tax, according to independent economists at the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS).
Those still paying will save up to £85 a year on average. The chancellor said it would be just over £100 a year, but that calculation may not include the self-employed.
The IFS says 8% of the gains go to the poorest 20% of working households, so it is those on a decent income who may benefit the most. However, those working in a number of low-paying part-time jobs could see their take-home pay increase significantly.
Another tax to be cut is VAT on digital books, newspapers and magazines.
What happens if coronavirus hits my finances?
Many of the measures aimed to tackle the impact of coronavirus benefit small businesses and so protect some jobs. This has been coordinated with the interest rate cut announced by the Bank of England.
Specific personal finance changes include the chancellor saying all of those advised to self-isolate, even if they do not show symptoms, are to receive statutory sick pay if eligible.
UK employees have already started to get statutory sick pay from the first day off work, to help contain coronavirus. This is paid by the employer, but smaller businesses with fewer than 250 employees can reclaim the cost of paying sick pay for the 14 days of isolation.
Those who are not eligible for sick pay, particularly the self-employed, will be able to claim Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) from day one of “illness” rather than day eight.
ESA is paid to those who are too sick to work, provided they meet certain conditions. It is worth £73.10 a week, or £57.90 for the under-25s. The complexity of this benefit may mean this change is unlikely to affect a lot of people.
Councils will also have access to a hardship fund to help vulnerable people in their area.
Other big changes to your finances in April had already been set, including:
Many working-age benefits which had been frozen for four years. including Jobseeker’s Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance, some types of Housing Benefit, and Child Benefit. will rise in line with the rising cost of living, going up by 1.7%. So, for example, child benefit for the eldest child will go up from £20.70 to £21.05 per week
Those aged 25 and over will get the National Living Wage of £8.72 an hour, a rise of 6.2%, with younger workers also getting more. This is paid by employers.
The full, new state pension will go up by 3.9% from £168.60 a week to about £175.20 in April. However, most pensioners get the older basic state pension, which is also going up by 3.9%, from £129.20 to £134.25 per week. They may also get a Pension Credit top-up.
Many self-employed people face a higher tax bill from April, when the so-called IR35 rule is extended to the private sector. That could mean thousands of contractors and freelancers will pay more tax.
Despite holding firm in 16th place, the UK is being outpaced by greater improvements in female employment prospects in other OECD countries- despite £189 billion GDP prize if the female employment rate could match Sweden, according to PwC’s latest Women in Work Index, which analyses female economic empowerment across 33 OECD countries.
The top three countries in the Women in Work 2020 Index are Iceland, Sweden and Slovenia, while the UK remains in 16th place.
While the UK performs above the OECD average and is second only to Canada when compared to other G7 economies, its position has barely budged since 2000 when it stood in 17th position, despite improving its performance across all five indicators.
Jing Teow, economist at PwC, commented:
“Although progress has been made across both the UK and OECD, the rate of improvement is still slow, despite the prospect of huge economic gains from increasing female participation in the workforce. Indeed both the OECD and UK would receive massive boosts to GDP amounting to US$6 trillion (£4.63 trillion) and £189 billion respectively if they could match the best performing country, Sweden.
“In order for these gains to be realised, businesses and governments need to work together to help get more women into work and ensure that there is a fair and equal pay structure. It’s also crucial that women get the right opportunities to upskill in the face of increasing automation as we enter the Fourth Industrial Revolution.”
If the female employment rate across the OECD countries matched Sweden, OECD GDP would be boosted by more than US$6 trillion (£4.63 trillion). Closing the gender pay gap across the OECD would increase total female earnings by US$2 trillion (£1.54 trillion). Female earnings in the UK would increase by £93 billion – a rise of 20%.
Overall, the OECD countries achieved incremental gains to female economic empowerment. Iceland and Sweden retain the top two positions for the fifth year in a row, with Slovenia in third place. Czechia experienced the biggest improvement in its ranking of all OECD countries, rising four places from 23rd to 19th, whereas Estonia and Ireland recorded the biggest decline.
The five indicators that make up the Women in Work Index are:
Gender pay gap
Female labour force participation
Gap between male and female labour force participation
Female unemployment, and
Female full-time employment rate
UK regional inequalities declining
The South West, Northern Ireland and Wales are the top performing UK regions, with all regions except Scotland improving their absolute score since last year.
Encouragingly, regional inequalities in women’s employment across the UK are declining, with every region except Scotland improving since last year. The East Midlands, North East and West Midlands achieved increases in their index score of more than 12% since last year, mainly driven by broad-based improvements to female labour force participation and full time employment rate. The South West unseated Scotland as the UK’s top region, improving on all indicators, while Northern Ireland jumped from 4th to 2nd.
London performed the poorest on the index due to poor female labour force participation and a high female unemployment rate. It fell three places to 12th, despite being the region that has achieved the most significant improvement in its index score since 2010, indicating that progress has stalled in the capital.
Kay Cooper, Managing Director for RPO for EMEA at recruitment giants Korn Ferry, believes businesses are putting too much emphasis on talent acquisition when attempting to create a more diverse business, and need to focus more on creating an enduring shift in their culture:
“The capital is a leader in most aspects of Britain’s economic life, so it’s surprising and disappointing to see it fall in the UK’s regional ranking for female labour force participation. Part of the problem lies with our approach to diversity and inclusion – while a lot of businesses have initiatives in place, not all are excelling in this area. Given London’s high concentration of businesses, this problem is particularly felt in the capital’s figures.
“A big part of the issue is that too many businesses lean on their recruitment and talent acquisition functions to single-handedly create a more diverse and inclusive organisation. While these functions do, of course, play an important role in attracting a more diverse workforce, efforts should not be limited to this stage.
“D&I requires a long-lasting shift internally to ensure that the talent that talent acquisition identify and attract is properly nurtured once on-boarded within an organisation. After all, if these diverse employees leave after six months because the culture doesn’t actually include them, then all of that effort becomes redundant.”
According to PwC’s Women in Technology Index, which is part of Women in Work, Canada is the best performing country within the G7 in terms of gender representation and equality in the tech sector, with France in second place.
The outlook is less rosy for the UK. In contrast to the main index, on which it is the second best performing country in the G7 and ranks in the top half of the OECD overall (16th), the UK is fifth out of the G7 in the Women in Technology Index. Its poor performance is driven by worse than average performance on all indicators except the share of women on boards in the technology, media and telecoms (TMT) sector.
Kelly Metcalf, Head of Diversity, Inclusion and Wellbeing at Fujitsu UK & Ireland, said:
“Today’s PwC’s latest Women in Work Index is disappointing for the technology sector. Evidence shows that diverse workforces allow organisations to provide collaborative environments where different styles of thinking can come together – allowing for more innovation and better business performance. It’s disappointing that some companies in the tech industry – and generally in London – have yet to realise this.
“There is no quick fix to this. Businesses need to commit to a big vision to achieve gender balance, driving awareness of the opportunities that exist in technology roles today, but also proactively work to ensure a healthy pipeline of talent. For instance they need to encourage more girls to pursue STEM careers by championing the great success stories of existing women in tech, take creative routes to attract diverse talent and ensure diverse talent is properly retained, developed and nurtured with an organisation.
“If we want to continue to see the UK as a ‘digital first’ nation, we must ensure we are investing in all talent. However, only when organisations fully understand the role that gender diverse organisations can play in driving business growth and success will businesses across the UK be consistently motivated to act differently and bring change.”
Laura Hinton, chief people officer at PwC UK, commented:
“Technology is front and centre for businesses and wider society, so it’s vital we take steps to make the industry as inclusive as possible. It’s encouraging to see progress being made in opportunities for women across the UK as businesses invest across the country, but more needs to be done.
“Long-term, targeted solutions will be vital in making changes sustainable. We know that in areas such as STEM women are under-represented. In order to build and sustain a pipeline of diverse talent, businesses need to work together to encourage girls at young ages through initiatives such as Tech She Can – a programme which inspires and educates young women to get into tech careers.”
The study indicates that AI and new technologies, such as robotics, drones and driverless vehicles, could displace jobs for women, but can also create new ones. Fewer female jobs are expected to be lost due to technology relative to jobs lost for the male population in the OECD, but the gains from job creation are likely to be bigger for men than women. The health and social care sector, the largest employer of women in the OECD, is expected to experience a net increase in female employment as a result of technology. However, the wholesale and retail trade and manufacturing sectors in the OECD are expected to experience a net decrease in female employment as a result of technology.
As workers are increasingly impacted by technology – a recent PwC global skills survey found that more than half of workers globally believe that automation will either significantly change or make their job obsolete within the next decade – it is vital that governments and businesses work together to offer more training in digital skills and STEM subjects, and support retraining into other jobs in sectors where the “human touch” is crucial.
The government has confirmed changes to off-payroll working rules (IR35) will go ahead on 6 April 2020 HRMagazine reports.
This included an analysis of the impacts on tax receipts and compliance that ensures someone working like an employee, but through a company, pays similar levels of tax to employees.
A report from the government earlier this week outlined the review process and how individuals and businesses have been engaged through a series of stakeholder roundtables.
Between 13 and 23 January HMRC, HM Treasury and the financial secretary to the Treasury held seven roundtables with 66 stakeholders affected by the reform.
The roundtable discussions focused on two broad themes: education and readiness and April 2020 implementation issues.
According to the report, stakeholders cited mixed levels of readiness. While large businesses said preparations were underway for April 2020, medium-sized organisations said they were less prepared.
Businesses also asked to see detailed guidance on the reform in the Employment Status Manualto help them prepare, and noted that the delays to its publication due to the general election had made it more difficult for stakeholders to make the necessary preparations.
The government said while it values the ‘significant contribution of flexible workers to the UK economy’, it is fair that individuals who work in a similar way should pay broadly the same amount of tax.
The report states: “Unfortunately, non-compliance with the off-payroll working rules is widespread and is forecast to cost the Exchequer more than £1.3 billion a year by 2023-24 if not addressed. This is not sustainable.
“It denies the taxpayer significant revenue for essential public services and perpetuates an unfairness between two individuals working in the same way, but paying different levels of tax.”
Dave Chaplin, founder and CEO of ContractorCalculator and director of the Stop The Off-Payroll Tax campaign, doesn’t believe the reform has gone far enough.
“This is the typical tin-eared approach taken by the Treasury, which has continued to ignore the valid concerns of businesses that are already suffering considerably because of this unworkable legislation.
“The art of taxation is supposed to be about plucking the goose with the minimum amount of squawking. You’re not supposed to kill the goose. Businesses that want to invest in the UK want to do so with tax certainty.
“We’re already seeing work being moved offshore, making the UK an unattractive place to do business,” said Chaplin.
However, not everyone is dissatisfied with the government’s review.
Victoria Roythorne, head of compliance and operations at recruitment firm Outsource UK, said: “For such a complicated piece of legislation, the HMRC’s confirmation of a ‘light touch’ approach to IR35 is a welcome sight. Most businesses have been working tirelessly to prepare for the change and it is only right that they are not held ransom for genuine mistakes that are made in the assessment process.
“It is a positive and respectful decision for businesses and contractors alike and reflects the HMRC’s understanding of the ongoing uncertainty, in part due to the delay in the Spring Budget and the lack of detailed information.”
She warned organisations not to take a relaxed approach during this period of uncertainty though.
“Businesses must not mistake this soft period as a get-out clause. HMRC has been clear that deliberate non-compliance will still be targeted under the ‘light touch’ approach and failure to prepare adequately could be self-sabotage,” Roythorne said.
In the report’s conclusion, the government states it is right to extend the reform of off-payroll working rules to large and medium-sized organisations in all sectors from 6 April 2020.
The government first announced it would be launching a review of the changes it would be making to IR35 in January 2020.
A major review, launched today by the Office for Students (OfS), poses fundamental questions for the future of higher education admissions.
The OfS is seeking the views of students, staff at universities and colleges, schools and all those with an interest in education, on a range of issues relating to university and college admissions.
The review will consider how the admissions system works for all students, whether they are studying full or part-time for an undergraduate or postgraduate degree, whatever their age.
The consultation asks for respondents to consider issues including:
the use and accuracy of predicted grades and personal statements in undergraduate admissions
the role of contextual information in admissions for students from disadvantaged backgrounds
the use of unconditional offers, which have increased significantly in recent years
the use of incentives and inducements in the admissions process across undergraduate and postgraduate study, and providers’ approach to marketing their courses
the overarching transparency, fairness and effectiveness of the system for all students.
Three future options for reform of the system are set out in full in the consultation. In brief, they comprise:
Retaining the current system with reforms: if the system is seen as generally working well, one option would be to consider a series of reforms to improve it further which could have a significant benefit for students. Consideration may be given to how the use of contextual admissions can be increased; whether to retain personal statements and ensure greater transparency around entry requirements and how applications are assessed.
Post-qualifications offers for full-time undergraduate admissions: under this option applications would be sent to providers at broadly the same time as they are now. However, offers would only be made after students receive their A-levels (or other equivalent qualification).
Post-qualification applications for full-time undergraduate admissions: various models for this option exist. The OfS sets out one where students might register their interest in particular higher education providers ahead of receiving their results, but wait until they had their results to complete their application.
Respondents are also asked to suggest any other system, or whether a combination of options would best improve the admissions system for full-time undergraduates as well as how the admissions system can be improved more broadly, for all students on all courses.
The OfS is not proposing a preferred model for the future, recognising that any fundamental changes would require significant cooperation and coordination with a wide range of bodies with an interest in education. Rather, it is using its role as the regulator for higher education in England to help generate debate and discussion about ways in which the admissions system could be made fairer, and help ensure that students from all backgrounds are able to get the most from their studies. The OfS will examine next steps from this autumn.
Commenting, Sir Michael Barber, chair of the OfS, said:
‘There is widespread recognition that certain aspects of the current admissions system are not working, and may be especially unfair on students from disadvantaged backgrounds. A review of admissions is also being carried out by Universities UK, and UCAS are exploring reforms to the admissions process. We will look to work closely with them – and everyone with an interest in the system – as we look forensically at changes that can shape our admissions system in a way which is matched to the needs, achievements and potential of students from all backgrounds.
‘This is fundamentally an open consultation and a genuine attempt to seek views from as wide a range of respondents as possible. Any changes to how and when students apply and receive offers will be complex. They will require the agreement of policy-makers, universities and colleges, examination boards and schools – and will need to demonstrably be in the interests of future students. We want to use our powers to convene, to consult and to discuss how we can arrive at a system of admissions where the interests of all students are paramount.
Responding to the Office of National Statistics figures on young people not in education, employment or training (NEETs),
Chair of the Local Government Association’s City Regions Board, Sir Richard Leese, said:
“It is positive that the number of young people not in education, employment or training has fallen.
“With more than 760,000 young people still NEET, it remains vital that we ensure more young people have the opportunities to increase their skills and retrain, so we can drive up productivity and start to close local skills gaps.
“With greater powers and resources, councils can help the Government more effectively reduce long-term unemployment and the number of young people out of work by being able to target support locally as well as tackle skills gaps.
“Councils want to ensure every young person realises their full potential and supporting our young people to make an effective transition from education to employment must be a top priority. This means providing the right careers advice and guidance, and holistic support needed for every young person.
“Devolving careers advice, post-16 and skills budgets and powers to local areas, would allow councils, schools, colleges and employers to work together to improve provision for young people so that they can get on in life.”
Office for National Statistics
763,000 (11.1%) 16 to 24-year-olds were NEET (not in education, employment or training) in Oct-Dec 2019
-A decrease of 26,000 (0.3 percentage points down) on Oct- Dec 2018
The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) is introducing a new feature for applicants that apply for their basic check directly to DBS, using our online application route.
From today, 20 February 2020, when an individual applies for their basic check directly to DBS, they will be able to select a ‘Someone else is paying’ option. They will receive an email that contains a payment link, which can then be forwarded to the person that is going to be paying for their check. The check can be paid for by debit or credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay.
Research highlighted that employers wanted to be able to pay for their employees’ checks, but it was often inconvenient, costly and time-consuming, as payment previously needed to be taken during the application process.
Allan Robinson, Product Owner of the basic service, said,
Since we launched the service in January 2018, we have constantly looked for new ways to make the application process quicker, easier and more user-friendly. This new payment option is just one of the many features we’ve added since its launch. DBS recognises that people’s lifestyles and working patterns have changed, and so have their needs. Our focus is to develop great solutions that solve our customers’ problems. The ‘someone else is paying’ feature provides for a simpler way for employers and organisations to pay for basic DBS checks.
More information about basic DBS checks can be found here.
F1 engineering legend – and former UKAEA apprentice – Ross Brawn came to Culham Science Centre to open the new training academy.
The new Oxfordshire Advanced Skills (OAS) apprentice training centre has opened its doors at Culham.
OAS – which has the capacity to teach up to 350 young people a year – aims to increase the number of technicians and engineers for local employers. This is in part to plug the high skills gap in the county, which is one of the UK’s leading areas for science and innovation. Already almost 20 hi-tech employers are benefitting from having technicians trained at the facility.
OAS is a partnership between the UK Atomic Energy Authority and the Science and Technologies Facilities Council. It opened in an existing building on the Culham site in 2016 but the purpose-built training complex will enable it to expand its programmes using state-of-the-art equipment.
Guest of honour at the opening event was Ross Brawn – who enjoyed a successful career in motorsport including at Benetton and Ferrari and is now Formula 1’s managing director.
He said: “I am truly delighted to be present at the opening of Oxfordshire Advanced Skills, and the place where it all began for me as a young apprentice at the UK Atomic Energy Authority.
“My time here provided me with the skills and experience I needed to go out into the wider engineering world, and it laid the foundation for the career path I have pursued.
“Apprentices are our next generation of designers, engineers and global problem solvers, and the importance of advanced skills training in the modern world – alongside facilities like the OAS – has never been so important.”
The new OAS building has industry-standard equipment covering a wide range of engineering and technology disciplines.
David Martin, OAS Director, and another former UKAEA apprentice, said: “The vision was an employer-led skills hub that would provide high quality training contextualised by being delivered in the workplace, but OAS is so much more than that. We have created something very special here that has the potential to impact careers and business performance for decades to come.”
Training at the centre is provided by the MTC Apprenticeships, based on the model they have successfully developed at their Coventry engineering skills academy.
Paul Rowlett, MTC Managing Director, said: “We are delighted to be working with UKAEA and STFC to deliver the Oxfordshire Advanced Skills training programme. There is a clear synergy and shared vision across our organisations.”
The next phase of OAS is already being planned. As well as extending the facility at Culham to cover robotics and power engineering training, OAS will add a skills centre at Harwell Campus for apprentices in the space sector as part of the rapidly growing Space Cluster there.
England legend Jonny Wilkinson has thrown his support behind a new apprenticeship.
The nation’s record points scorer, who won the 2003 World Cup against Australia with a famous drop goal, is now looking to the future for his sport.
As of 18th October talented rugby union players will be able to hone their skills to compete at the highest level through a Sporting Excellence Professional apprenticeship.
Speaking the day before England take on Australia in the quarter final of the current World Cup in Australia, the former fly-half tackled the issue of how promising youngsters can earn a living as they are trained to become stars of the future. He said:
“I’d always encourage young people to follow their passions as far as they possibly can. If that means taking part in sporting activities, then this is fantastic. Apprenticeships can provide the opportunity for any young person to get their foot in the door with professional sport. I have been involved in rugby squads where I have enjoyed working alongside apprentices and watched them play key roles in the success of the team and go on to forge exciting careers in the game.”
Rugby league, cricket and football are also part of the Sporting Excellence Professional apprenticeship.
In addition to Rugby Union clubs, Rugby League and cricket clubs are also as of today now able to use the apprenticeship, which had previously only been open to football clubs as of May this year.
The Rugby Football Union and Rugby Football League worked together with football’s Premier League and English Football League, and the England and Wales Cricket Board to develop this apprenticeship.
The Institute’s Chief Executive, Sir Gerry Berragan, welcomed the move for new government-supported apprenticeships – which have expanded massively across different professions in recent years (there are now more than 500 available in total) – to move into the field of professional sport.
“This announcement will hopefully give those with a passion for sport another chance to potentially achieve their dream. It is encouraging that so many employers have been involved with the development of this standard and I’m sure we will see the benefits in the future.”
effectively and successfully represent their employer on the field of play at a local, regional, national or international level;
undertake a daily training routine, supported by a multi-disciplinary team, to ensure they retain and develop the technical, tactical, physical and psychological skills necessary for performing at the professional level;
practice a lifestyle conducive to maintaining a high level of performance;
act as an ambassador for their employer, sport and governing body in relation to younger players, fans and the local community – including their approach to diversity, equality and inclusion; and
actively plan for life after their sporting career and to supplement the next phase of playing contract.
In-Comm Training has been named as one of the training providers for a new skills fund launched by the West Midlands Combined Authority.
The Aldridge-based firm, which operates three technical academies in the Black Country and Shropshire, will be galvanising SMEs and larger firms to make the most of unspent Levy money currently available in the region.
The aim is to encourage employers to take on more young people in advanced manufacturing, digital skills and STEM-related apprenticeships as the area looks to cement its position as a global leader in engineering.
In-Comm Training’s employer-led approach to skills was one of the main reasons it has been chosen, with its team of expert advisers and trainers now responsible for supporting potential users of the fund to meet the criteria and recruit the right young people.
Bekki Phillips, Managing Director at In-Comm Training, commented: “Any new programme that encourages greater adoption of vocational learning is welcomed, especially one that specifically targets STEM courses.
“We have to raise the region’s productivity and using unspent Levy money to offer apprenticeships to 16-18 year-olds is a great, long-term way of ensuring we are growing our workforces of the future.”
She continued: “More than 146 standards are available, covering science, technology, engineering, manufacturing, construction and digital – all the skills we are going to need if we are going to exploit the UK’s strengths.
“The new fund will essentially remove the 5% fee that SMEs normally have to pay to take on an apprentice, making it easier to invest in young people.”
The West Midlands Combined Authority covers a population of 4.2 million across Greater Birmingham and Solihull, the Black Country, Coventry and Warwickshire and the Marches LEPs.
In-Comm Training’s proven track record in delivering apprenticeships, combined with a £7m investment in its three academies in Aldridge, Bridgnorth and Shrewsbury, has given it the perfect platform to be a crucial partner to the Apprenticeship Levy Transfer Fund.
Derby College Group (DCG) has launched a special toolkit to help students recognise triggers to mental health issues and better manage their own well-being.
The SEEDS programme is available on the college’s intranet and stands for the key ingredients to mental wellbeing: sleep, exercise, eat healthy, discuss and self-help. It offers practical advice on these key aspects and students to the support available both at College and externally.
Activities for students at Broomfield Hall college included petting sessions with some of the resident small animals and creatures at the Animal Care centre, craft activities and fitness challenges.
Helen Jefferson is DCG director of services for students and designated senior lead for mental health. She explained:
“We have wide-ranging support in place for students but were keen to offer practical advice so that they can better recognise the triggers and understand the link between a healthy lifestyle and mental well-being.
“SEEDS has been specially developed within the college and we look forward to the feedback from students as they make use of the toolkit in the coming weeks and months.”
Meanwhile staff and Business students from the Roundhouse college supported East Midlands Railway’s R U OK campaign at Derby Station – encouraging passengers to speak up about stress and anxiety.
Students gave out leaflets and manned an Act of Kindness wall where people posted positive comments.
Timmy the Tenvec was amongst the animals available for a cuddle by students at Broomfield Hall college on World Mental Health Day
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