The Chancellor of the Exchequer presented his Spring Budget to Parliament on Wednesday 15 March 2023. The full Spring Budget 2023 documents can be found here

The cost of living will continue to have a big impact on people’s wellbeing, despite the projected fall in inflation this year. Some employers can’t match this with pay increases, but there is much they can still do to support their staff, through financial awareness, flexible working and other incentives like vouchers and rewards.

We know that good work is good for our mental and physical health, and employers have a vital role in improving the wellbeing of their staff both in and outside of work, which is why we are calling on the Government to go further and develop a National Wellbeing Strategy.

Paul Fakley, Engagement Director at British Safety Council

However, Professor Denis Kinane, founding scientist at Cignpost and preventative healthcare advocate, welcomes decisions regarding occupational health services:

We welcome the government’s decision to launch subsidies to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to introduce occupational health services and provide basic health appraisals. Despite both the NHS Long Term Plan and the NHS Five Year Forward View calling for a radical upgrade in preventative measures to future proof the NHS, policy makers for too long have overlooked the importance of preventative testing.

Professor Denis Kinane, Cignpost  

Commenting on the Health and Disability white paper launched alongside the Spring Budget, Katharine Moxham, Spokesperson for Group Risk Development (GRiD) felt the budget has fallen short in helping people back to work. Moxham comments:

It’s really encouraging to see government acknowledging the human wastage that long-term sickness absence from the workplace can bring and announcing positive steps to de-risk the journey back into work. It needs to go much further, however, in addressing how people fall out of work in the first place, as well as how to encourage them back.

It’s time for government to be proactive and encourage more employers to move towards providing a better level of long-term sick pay and support during absence. This will mitigate the number of absences, and get people back to work. Group income protection providers can help deliver that outcome for employers and employees alike, whilst saving the state considerable effort and cost.

Katharine Moxham, Spokesperson for Group Risk Development

The Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo) has welcomed the attempts to ‘break down barriers’ to get people back into work, but has warned that more is needed in the short term. Tania Bowers, Global Public Policy Director for APSCo comments:

The recognition that the UK’s labour market is in a significantly challenging position is promising from our side as we have been warning for some time now that the highly skilled professional landscape is being overly-stretched. The Chancellor’s plans to reduce economic inactivity, encourage the over 50’s back into work, support those with a disability into employment and deliver better childcare provisions will help increase the number of people in work, but won’t provide the skills that are needed immediately. The barriers to upskilling the workforce are multi-faceted and, unfortunately, not all have been addressed in Jeremy Hunt’s statement.

In relation to childcare support and encouraging parents back into work, Tania says:

The additional childcare support that will be on offer certainly dominated much of the news around the Budget and we welcome the steps to provide more financial support for parents of young children. The costs of childcare for one and two-year-olds have prevented a significant proportion of the population from returning to work either fully or on a temporary basis. However, it is important to highlight that the childcare sector itself is already overstretched. The Chancellor’s planned incentive scheme to encourage more people into the profession is a step in the right direction, but more is arguably needed to retain these resources as well.

In relationship to disability employment, Tania concludes:

While we await the full details of the reforms to disability benefits, the Chancellor’s focus on removing barriers to employment is a sentiment we echo. It cannot be stressed enough, though, that planned support to get more disabled individuals into work needs to address issues including inflexible work practices, transportation challenges and the inflexibility in hiring processes that continues to impact this segment of the workforce.

Tania Bowers, Global Public Policy Director for APSCo

Editor at Workplace Wellbeing Professional | Website | + posts

Workplace Wellbeing Professional is an online magazine featuring news and analysis on a broad range of employee wellbeing topics, focused on a UK based audience.