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Government Announces Pay Rise for 2.8 Million People
January 2, 2020

National Living Wage set to increase by 6.2% in 2020.

  • Annual pay rise of up to £930 for a full time worker.
  • National Living Wage (NLW) increasing from £8.21 to £8.72.
  • New NLW rate starts on 1 April 2020 and applies to over 25 years olds.

The national minimum wage for apprentices is to increase by four times the rate of inflation in April, the prime minister has announced. The official minimum wage for apprentices currently stands at £3.90 per hour, but in April it will increase by 6.4 per cent to £4.15.

Low-paid workers will receive a 6.2% pay rise with a new National Living Wage (NLW) of £8.72 per hour, the biggest cash increase ever, the Government has announced.

Nearly 3 million workers are set to benefit from the increases to the NLW and minimum wage rates for younger workers, according to estimates from the independent Low Pay Commission. The rise means Government is on track to meet its current target for the NLW to reach 60% of median earnings by 2020.

The new rate starts on 1 April 2020 and results in an increase of £930 over the year for a full-time worker on the National Living Wage. Younger workers who receive the National Minimum Wage will also see their pay boosted with increases of between 4.6% and 6.5%, dependant on their age, with 21-24 year olds seeing a 6.5% increase from £7.70 to £8.20 an hour.

The Government has fully accepted the Low Pay Commission’s recommendations after they consulted stakeholders such as unions, businesses and academics, before recommending the NLW and NMW rates to the Government. In September the Chancellor pledged to increase the NLW towards a new target of two-thirds of median earnings by 2024, provided economic conditions allow, which, on current forecasts, would make it around £10.50 per hour.

The introduction of the NLW has already delivered the fastest pay rise for the lowest earners in 20 years, putting more cash into the pockets of those who need it the most. Supported by the NLW, the lowest paid saw their wages grow by 8% above inflation between April 2015 and April 2018.

The Chancellor has also announced his plans to expand the reach of the National Living Wage to cover workers aged 23 and over from April 2021, and to those aged 21 and over within five years. This is expected to benefit around 4 million low paid workers.

The Government will set out more details on the future policy framework, including the important role of the independent Low Pay Commission, by the Spring.

Further information

2020 NMW/NLW rates increases

The increased rates were recommended by the Low Pay Commission, an independent body that advises the government about the National Living Wage and the National Minimum Wage.

The National Living Wage (for over 25 year olds) will increase 6.2% from £8.21 to £8.72.

The National Minimum Wage will rise across all age groups, including

  • A 6.5% increase from £7.70 to £8.20 for 21-24 year olds
  • A 4.9% increase from £6.15 to £6.45 for 18-20 year olds
  • A 4.6% increase from £4.35 to £4.55 for Under 18s
  • A 6.4% increase from £3.90 to £4.15 for Apprentices

The £930 increase in annual earnings compares the gross annual earnings of a person working 35 hours per week on the new NLW rate from April (£8.72) versus the 2018/19 NLW rate (£8.21). The £3,680 increase in annual earnings compares the gross annual earnings of a person working 35 hours per week on the new NLW rate from April (£8.72) versus the 2015/16 minimum wage rate (£6.70).

Low Pay Commission Advice to Government on the Future of the Minimum Wage
November 6, 2019

The Low Pay Commission (LPC) has today published two reports, setting out its advice to Government on the future of the minimum wage in the UK.

The first concerns the National Living Wage after 2020, in the context of the Government’s ambition to ‘end low pay’.

The second is the LPC’s review of the youth rates of the minimum wage.

The LPC’s advice on these matters was submitted to Government in September and August respectively, in advance of the Chancellor’s pledge to increase the National Living Wage to two-thirds of median earnings within five years.

The National Living Wage beyond 2020

LPC Chairman Bryan Sanderson said:

Our report on the future of the National Living Wage is a substantial contribution to the debate on minimum wages and adds to the evidence base on which the success of the UK’s system has been built.

We share and support the Government’s ambition to end low pay. We did not take a view on the appropriate level and timing of a new minimum wage target, but regardless of how far and how fast the minimum wage increases, the Low Pay Commission needs the flexibility to recommend varying its path and the end date of any target if economic conditions are not favourable. And our social partnership model and expertise will remain vital in building consensus around ambitious increases.

Our report also sets out the limitations of the minimum wage when it comes to ending low pay and alleviating poverty. The National Living Wage cannot achieve these goals alone, and we strongly recommend that it is seen as one element of a broader approach to these vital issues.

The report published today sets out the advice the LPC provided to the Government in September on the minimum wage and the LPC’s remit after 2020. This advice responds to the Government’s announcement in the 2018 Budget that it will set a new remit for the LPC with the ambition of raising the minimum wage to ‘end low pay’.

The report finds that the National Living Wage has begun to reduce hourly and weekly low pay, as defined by the OECD and two-thirds of median earnings. However, its ability to eliminate low pay is limited. We should not expect increases in hourly minimum wage rates to ‘end’ low pay or in-work poverty in the broader sense. Indeed, internationally there is no clear direct relationship between minimum wages and low pay.

HM Treasury have also today published the report to the Government by Professor Arindrajit Dube on international evidence around minimum wages. The LPC contributed to the preparation of Professor Dube’s report.

Youth rates review

The review of minimum wage youth rates published today sets out the detailed evidence base for the LPC’s recommendations, which were accepted by the Government in September.

We recommended lowering the age of eligibility for the National Living Wage to 21 using a phased approach, moving first to 23 from April 2021 and monitoring the impact of this change before completing the move to 21 at a later date.

Our report finds there is little basis for treating 23 and 24 year olds differently to older workers in the minimum wage structure, although the labour market position of 21 and 22 year olds is different, with lower pay and employment rates. This led us to recommend a phased approach, allowing employers more time to adapt and protecting employment for these groups.

Bryan Sanderson said:

We were delighted when the Government announced in September that it had accepted our recommendation for a phased extension of the National Living Wage to 21-24 year olds. We think this will restore fairness in the minimum wage system, raising pay for young workers with little risk of negative effects.

The Government announced its intention to end low pay in the 2018 Budget. It said it would consult the LPC and other stakeholders about the LPC’s future remit. Our report on the National Living Wage beyond 2020 is the formal advice we provided to the Government as part of that consultation process.

The report on the National Living Wage beyond 2020 complements Professor Arindrajit Dube’s review of international evidence on minimum wages, which was also published today.

The LPC has submitted recommendations for National Living Wage and National Minimum Wage rates to apply from April 2020 to the Government, in line with its remit to provide advice by the end of October.

Read ‘The National Living Wage Beyond 2020’

Read ‘A Review of the Youth Rates of the National Minimum Wage’

New Measures Announced to Make Sure Government Supply Chains are Free From Modern Slavery
September 20, 2019

Ministers have announced new steps to ensure government supply chains are free from modern slavery, an umbrella term that encompasses the offences of slavery, servitude, forced and compulsory labour and human trafficking.


UK central Government spends around £52 billion per year buying goods and services, and the wider public sector represents an additional £203 billion annual spend. As such it is right for government to use its buying power to prevent modern slavery occurring in public sector supply chains, especially in high risk sectors.

The new measures, developed to ensure government is able to tackle any risks of modern slavery in supply chains without placing undue burdens on businesses or officials, include:

New modern slavery guidance for government commercial practitioners at all levels to help identify and manage modern slavery risks in both existing contracts and new procurement activity.

An innovative assessment tool for departments to use with their suppliers to identify modern slavery risks.

A partnership with the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply to offer online training to commercial officials across government on how to identify and report modern slavery.

Oliver Dowden, Minister for the Cabinet Office, said:

As one of the most pressing human rights issues of our time, tackling modern slavery is a top priority, including in government supply chains. Transparency is key, and these new measures will be vital in ensuring that departments have the training, know-how and tools to identify and report modern slavery effectively in what can often be complex supply chains.

Victoria Atkins, Minister for Crime, Safeguarding and Vulnerability, said:

Modern slavery is a truly horrific crime and the government is committed to stopping it wherever and however it occurs. It’s dreadful to think that the products and services we use could, however indirectly, have involved exploitation in their supply chains. This guidance will help public sector bodies to mitigate that risk so that public money is not used to enable exploitation.

Gareth Rhys Williams, Government Chief Commercial Officer, Cabinet Office said:

I am delighted to see the launch of this modern slavery policy and guide. It will help the public sector commercial teams identify and work towards eliminating modern slavery in our supply chains. It has been developed in consultation with experts from inside and outside government, so I hope that the tools in it will also be useful for the private sector. Tackling modern slavery is a shared endeavour, and one we must work on urgently.

The Modern Slavery Act 2015 consolidates and clarifies modern slavery offences; toughening penalties and prosecution; and introduces greater support and protection for victims. Section 54 of the Modern Slavery Act (the transparency in supply chains provision) imposes a legal requirement for certain commercial organisations with operations in the UK, with an annual turnover in excess of £36 million, to publish an annual modern slavery statement.

The UK is the first country in the world to require businesses to be transparent about the action they are taking to address modern slavery risks in their organisation and supply chains. The government has committed to voluntarily publishing a Modern Slavery Statement in December 2019, to mirror the requirements on businesses to publish statements under Section 54 of the Modern Slavery Act. The Government statement will set out the actions taken, and plans in place, to identify, tackle and prevent modern slavery in central government supply chains.

Furthermore, from 2021 onwards, individual Ministerial departments will publish their own individual annual statements. The Home Office is consulting on measures to strengthen transparency in supply chains legislation, including extending the transparency requirements to the public sector and improving the quality of statements.

How Beneficial and Available is Adult Learning in the UK?
August 21, 2019

The Government Education Committee is looking into the benefits of adult skills and lifelong learning to the individual, society and the wider economy.

They are also exploring the level of support available to learners, and the role played by local authorities/combined authority areas in providing adult education.

They would like to hear your views and experiences of adult learning.

On average this survey takes around 3 minutes. Follow the link below to access the survey.


National Retraining Scheme
July 19, 2019

The national retraining scheme is the government’s new programme to prepare adults for future changes to the economy, including those brought about by automation, and to help them retrain into better jobs.

The national retraining scheme is a manifesto commitment and was announced at the autumn 2017 budget.

The scheme is a part of the government’s industrial strategy for building a country that works for everyone. It’s overseen by a partnership made up of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), the Trades Union Congress (TUC) and the government.

To support the development of the scheme, the Chancellor announced £100m in the autumn budget 2018. This is for the continued testing and development of the scheme, as well as delivering the first parts of the scheme to the public.


The national retraining scheme will initially support employed adults who:

  • are aged 24 and over
  • do not have a qualification at degree level
  • are paid below a certain wage threshold – this threshold will be tested with people earning low to medium wages as we develop the scheme

We’re investing in this group of people first as they:

  • have comparatively less access to existing government support
  • are most in need of adapting their skills so they can take advantage of new opportunities

The need for the national retraining scheme

We’re introducing the national retraining scheme to respond to:

  • the changing nature of jobs and the types of tasks people do at work
  • the need for a multi-skilled workforce in the future
  • make the most of the new opportunities that the future economy will bring

The sections below summarise some of the challenges the country will face.

Automation: benefits and challenges

While automation will lead to new jobs, it will also change many of the jobs of today.

Research on the probability of automation in England: 2011 and 2017, suggests that around 7.4% of jobs (1.5 million) in England could be automated or partly automated in the future.

Some jobs will change significantly or will see reduced demand with up to 35% of jobs being at high risk of automation in the next 10 to 20 years.

Fewer adults undertaking training

Despite the range of learning and training opportunities currently available, the number of adult learners continues to fall.

Barriers to retraining

Our research with adults who have used early parts of the national retraining scheme during its testing phase shows that many people face a range of barriers that prevent them from accessing further learning or training. These barriers include:

  • the financial cost of training
  • training opportunities that do not fit the working patterns of people already in employment
  • poor previous experience of education
Low productivity growth in the economy

The national retraining scheme aims to boost productivity by taking advantage of new technology.

The scheme is part of other measures the government is taking to increase productivity in the economy.

Longer working lives

As people work longer, there will be a greater need to:

  • adapt to changes in the economy
  • consider new careers throughout their working lives
What the scheme will include

The national retraining scheme aims to overcome some of these challenges, and prepare adults for changes to the workplace, by:

  • supporting people already in work to move into better jobs through training and tailored advice
  • complementing existing training programmes for adults
  • encouraging people to develop their flexibility and resilience in the world of work, so they can take advantage of new opportunities

Further details about what we expect the national retraining scheme to offer when it’s fully rolled out are available below.

Tailored advice and guidance

People will be able to access dedicated support from a qualified national careers service adviser.

This will support people while they’re training and looking for new jobs.

Functional skills provision

Training offered through the scheme will initially focus on helping people to access English and maths training.

We’ll develop this opportunity based on feedback from people using the service, so it meets their needs.

Improving English and maths skills will help remove a common barrier that some people face when applying for new jobs.

Online and blended learning

We are developing this flexible approach to training so it fits around working adults’ busy lives.

Online and blended learning will have a broader reach and will mean more adults can access training.

Blended learning is a mix of online and face-to-face provision.

Technical training

We’ll offer in-work vocational skills training, learnt on the job, as part of the national retraining scheme.

Get help to retrain

Get help to retrain is the first part of the national retraining scheme that we have started testing in the Liverpool city region.

It will help people to:

  • understand their current skills
  • explore alternative occupations and consider new roles
  • find the training they need to access opportunities for a broad range of good jobs
Features of get help to retrain

The service will:

  • offer descriptions of currently available jobs and potential better jobs to help people understand their skills
  • identify specific local job and training opportunities to help people develop the skills they’ll need
  • get dedicated support from an adviser to use the service and find training opportunities
Development of get help to retrain

We’ve started testing get help to retrain in the Liverpool city region with a small number of adults who:

  • fit the eligibility criteria
  • have been invited to join the scheme through colleges and other training providers.

The initial version has limited functionality, but this will be scaled up as we test and develop the service.

We’ll expand get help to retrain to other areas across the country, adding more functionality to every stage.

Get help to retrain will be available to all eligible adults in 2020.

Development of the national retraining scheme

Our approach

We’re developing the scheme with a user-centred, ‘test and learn’ approach.

This means we’ll:

  • develop the scheme with the people and businesses who’ll use it
  • start small and scale up products and services following extensive testing with people using the scheme

This approach reduces risks, while developing a national retraining scheme that:

  • uses lessons learned from previous retraining programmes
  • offers value for money
  • is fully tested before we roll it out nationally
  • works for the people who’ll use it
  • can be developed to meet employers’ needs and expectations
  • offers the flexibility to make changes quickly based on feedback from people using it
  • can be changed to meet the future needs of the economy
National retraining partnership

The national retraining scheme is led and overseen by the national retraining partnership which includes:

  • government departments – led by the Department for Education (DfE), working with HM Treasury (HMT) and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP)
  • Confederation of British Industry (CBI)
  • Trades Union Congress (TUC)

The national retraining partnership aims to help businesses and workers:

  • provide feedback to develop the national retraining scheme effectively and meet users’ needs
  • adapt to the changes the future economy will bring
  • be competitive in the future economy

Our research

Extensive research with potential users has helped us develop the first part of the scheme. This research has allowed us to meet the needs of employed adults who are eligible to use the scheme, as well as employers.

To do this, we conducted research with:

  • over 340 working adults, including people with assisted digital needs (over 90 of these workers took part in a remote test of the service)
  • 90 people representing around 35 employers across 7 different locations
  • 17 careers advisers

We’ll continue to use this approach with employers and working adults as we roll out the scheme.

Views from people who will use the scheme

From our research with people currently employed and who are eligible to use the scheme, we have found that:

  • most people will only consider training if there is a clear route to a new job
  • the current training and job landscape can be overwhelming
  • most people would not sign up for training without further information and guidance first
  • negative perceptions were common, for example, poor previous learning experiences
  • the term a ‘better job’ means different things to different people
  • online training often meets people’s needs for flexibility, but many people lack the confidence using it
  • existing online training is often targeted at the highly-skilled and motivated
  • existing online training only meets users’ needs to a limited extent as it represents only a small proportion of adult training provision
  • people would pay or co-fund training if it led to a job
Employers’ views

When speaking to employers, we found that they value:

  • soft skills, such as good communications skills and a strong work ethic
  • a scheme that was integrated with existing recruitment processes
  • apprenticeships, but many have expressed an interest in a shorter, more flexible retraining offer
National organisations

We’ve worked with a range of national representative bodies at conferences and events, including:

  • Association of Education and Learning Providers – national conference, June 2019
  • Unionlearn – annual conference 2019 (as well as a range of regional events across the country)
  • The Apprenticeship Ambassadors Network May 2019
  • The Association of Colleges – including through their 2018 annual conference
Regional organisations

We’ve held meetings across the country so that our research is:

  • representative of local areas
  • captured a full range of views and experiences
  • highlighted the strength and depth of existing provision

To do this, we spoke with:

  • regional representative organisations, including chambers of commerce, local enterprise partnerships (LEPs) and other representative groups.
  • training providers
  • awarding bodies
Specialist advice

We are consulting behavioural change specialists on a research project that will provide clear recommendations for:

  • getting eligible adults to consider retraining for a better job
  • encouraging them to use the national retraining scheme to help them achieve this goal

We are taking forward a range of pilots and initiatives to inform the scheme. A summary of this work can be found in National retraining scheme: associated projects document.

Working across government

While DfE is taking the lead in the design and delivery of the scheme through the national retraining partnership, we are working across government to make sure that the national retraining scheme complements existing initiatives and services that have been proven to work well.

This is one part of a wider strategy of government reforms which include:

MPs to Launch Inquiry into Benefits of Lifelong Learning and Local Authority Support
July 11, 2019

A new inquiry into the current state of adult education and lifelong learning is being launched by the House of Commons education select committee.

Former apprenticeships and skills minister Robert Halfon (pictured), who chairs the committee, will make the announcement during a speech at an event hosted by the Centre for Social Justice in London tomorrow.

A spokesperson for the committee said the inquiry is “going to be looking at the benefits of life-long learning to the economy and individuals, and also how improving adult skills can promote social justice”.

It will also be “examining the level of support available to learners from local authorities”.

Halfon will say in his speech that while it might not get the same attention as other “big-ticket items in Westminster”, poor access to lifelong learning is “one of the great social injustices of our time”.

Warning of an “enormous wave of lost opportunity about to come crashing down on the next generation of employees”, he will say it is a scandal that lifelong learning is out of reach for the millions already most disadvantaged in society.

“Lifelong learning is a more affluent person’s game,” he will tell the Centre for Social Justice.

“Those who might benefit most from adult learning and training – low-skilled people in low-income work or the unemployed – are by far the least likely to be doing it.”

Another potential problem, according to Halfon, “is the numbers of people undertaking community learning have dropped – from around 650,000 in 2011/12 to around 500,000 in 2017/18”.

He’ll say that while “just over half of those in higher socioeconomic groups engaged in learning in the last three years, just 26 per cent of people in lower groups did.

“Adult learning should be a lifeline for the shocking number of those who left school ill-equipped to grapple with the rough and tumble of the jobs market … around nine million working adults in England have low literacy and/or numeracy skills. Yet in the last ten years just 17 per cent of low paid workers have moved permanently out of low pay.”

Before announcing the select committee’s inquiry into the current state of adult learning, Halfon will say the UK lags behind other wealthy nations in spending on lifelong education, and a recent study by the Social Mobility Commission shows England’s adult skills budget “fell by 34 per cent in real terms between 2010-2016”.

Halfon will call for an adult community learning centre to be put in every town in the country, and a top-slice of the existing £60 million support fund – which is meant to specifically target those living in deprived areas – for apprenticeships and use this to support more organisations like the WEA, the UK’s largest voluntary sector provider of adult education.

Halfon will also propose increasing tax incentives both through Corporation Tax and by ensuring increased benefits for employers investing in training people with lower skill levels.

“Only by recognising this crisis and taking urgent actions to reverse it can the UK avoid today’s divisions multiplying because those with most to gain from lifelong learning continue to be the ones with the least access to it,” Halfon will say.

A spokesperson for the WEA said the inquiry into lifelong learning announcement is “very welcome”.

“Grassroots community based learning is a lifeline for many in our most deprived communities,” they added.

“As working lives get longer and we all need to keep pace with change to live full and active lives, lifelong learning becomes more and more vital.”

The select committee is inviting written submissions addressing the following questions: 

  • What are the benefits of adult skills and lifelong learning (ASALL) for productivity and upskilling the workforce?
  • What are the benefits of ASALL for social justice, health and well-being?
  • What role can local authorities/combined authority areas play in ASALL provision?
  • To what extent is the range, balance and quality of formal and informal ASALL education adequate?
  • Who currently participates in and benefits from lifelong learning? 
  • What lessons can the UK learn from abroad?

The deadline for written evidence submissions is 15 August.

Civil Service Recruitment: New Framework
June 26, 2019

Success Profiles are the new recruitment framework used within the Civil Service. 

The Success Profile Framework is being introduced to attract and retain people of talent and experience from a range of sectors and all walks of life, in line with the commitment in the Civil Service Workforce Plan.

The Success Profile Framework moves recruitment away from using a purely competency-based system of assessment. It introduces a more flexible framework which assesses candidates against a range of elements using a variety of selection methods. This will give the best possible chance of finding the right person for the job, driving up performance and improving diversity and inclusivity. Read more

Women’s Progression in the Workplace: Actions for Employers
March 29, 2019

Guidance for employers on the evidence based actions they can take to support women to progress, to help to close the gender pay gap and increase gender equality in the workplace.


One of the drivers of the gender pay gap is that women are not progressing in the workplace as fully as their talents would allow.

Improving, measuring and evaluating recruitment, promotion and talent management processes; supporting part-time workers; and creating an environment where women feel that they fit and belong, can enable women to progress.

Read more

Changes to Safeguarding Guidance
March 27, 2019

Are you aware of the latest Department for Education’s safeguarding guidance?

Emma Hardy MP and Jess Phillips MP have written to all headteachers in England to raise awareness of the ‘Keeping Children Safe in Education’ ‘report, which was redrafted following the Women and Equalities Committee inquiry into sexual violence in schools.

Read more

Spring Statement 2018: Sector Response
March 14, 2018

The Chancellor has presented his first Spring Statement to Parliament.

The Spring Statement gives people and businesses certainty and stability to plan for the future. Major tax or spending changes will now be made once a year at the Budget in the Autumn.

The Spring Statement:

  • gives an update on the overall health of the economy and the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) forecasts
  • gives an update on progress made since Autumn Budget 2017
  • invites people and businesses to give views on changes the government is considering

Read The Sector Response Here