Getting people working: 2023 spring budget commentary

Unemployment is low, but there is: “a significant increase in the number of people neither in nor looking for work.”

Some 6.7 million people in the UK are “economically inactive”.

To address the situation, Hunt announced a focus on four groups:

  • The long-term sick and disabled,
  • Welfare recipients and the unemployed,
  • Older workers,
  • Parents

The budget also sets out a series of initiatives or ‘tactics’ to support these groups returning to work. As we’ll explain, many of the Chancellor’s tactics can be complemented or enhanced by an inclusive workplace.

Long-term sickness is keeping people out of work

There are over 2.5 million people who report they are inactive due to long-term sickness.

Common causes of sickness are mental health and musculoskeletal issues, which the Chancellor says he will address with a series of measures.

How to address long-term conditions in the workplace

Living with a long-term condition can also affect people’s mental health.

How can ClearTalents support people with LTCs?

ClearTalents encourages employees to update their inclusion passports when their circumstances change. When they do, the digital toll immediately alerts their manager, keeping conversations about ongoing health issues alive.

Encouraging older people back to work

Workers over 50 left the market in the greatest numbers during the Covid-19 pandemic.

How many older people are leaving the workforce?

Inactivity is concentrated among older workers:

  • Inactivity across 50-64-year-olds increased by two percentage points since the start of the pandemic.
  • 4210,000 people report they are inactive due to long-term conditions.

The government wants to encourage this group to extend their working lives, and so it has:

  • Increased tax relief on pensions
  • Introduced so-called ‘Returnerships’, which brings together existing skills programmes

Appraisals are an excellent opportunity to discuss training opportunities. But,  you should ensure that the appraisal process is also inclusive.

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Retaining older workers

Plus, you can do many other things to retain older workers.

The reteurnerships are a great imitative, but we shouldn’t downplay the experience that older workers bring to a workforce – creative initiatives can include reverse mentorships schemes pairing younger and older workers together.

We built ClearTalents around all nine.

Older workers are, however, prone to long-term conditions and may become disabled, which means it is essential to make reasonable adjustments at work. An inclusive workplace adapts to the needs of everyone and remembers that it is society that disables people.

To retain older people at work, you can be aware of changing circumstances, caring responsibilities (for a partner or children), and embracing flexibility.

Why are older people leaving the workforce?

While most workers cite retirement as the main reason for leaving work, the ONS’s over 50s Lifestyle Study found that people aged 50-54 were more likely to mention stress and that ‘I did not feel supported in my job’ as a reason for leaving work.’

Support for disabled workers

Alongside supporting older workers, the government said it will “increase the employment rate and hours worked among those with a health condition or disability.”

So, how does it plan to do it? The government says that it will:

  • Introduce tailored support within mental health and MSK services in England
  • Scale up MSK hubs in the community
  • Digitise the NHS Health Check to identify and prevent more cases of cardiovascular disease
  • Ensure digital resources such as apps for managing mental health and MSK conditions are readily available

In addition, the government plans to pilot a new programme called WorkWell to better integrate employment and health support for those with health conditions.

The government will also increase the funding for Work Coaches to help those who are long-term sick and disabled into work.

Supporting disabled people in the workplace

There is a well-reported disability employment gap of 29%, as reported on the website of Scope. The disability employment gap measures the difference between the employment rate of disabled people and non-disabled people.

In supporting people back to work, we must recognise the social model of disability whereby society disables. Disabled employees are typically more loyal and innovative because society has forced them to adapt. To empower disabled employees – and everyone – to work at their best, it is essential that workplaces are inclusive.

How ClearTalents can help

ClearTalents enables all employees to create an inclusion passport that identifies where they need support and request reasonable adjustments.

Our digital tool enables people to request physical workstation adjustments, including for musculoskeletal problems. One of our most requested adjustments is mental health, so we’ve covered that too. However, we also enable people to request adjustments in specific work areas, such as communication styles.

Employees can update their profiles at any time, so if their health or circumstances change, they can start a conversation with their manager.

Our tool sends an alert to a manager when the profile has been updated.