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The Chancellor delivers a mini-budget as concerns about the cost of living loom large

Uncategorized 22 September 2022

The Government has announced a package of measures it believes will boost economic growth and respond to the real concerns of communities across the county about the cost of living.

Back in June, Seetec commissioned YouGov to look at the cost of living by polling the public and found that four out of five households faced spending cuts as the rising cost of living squeezed budgets at that time. As we head towards the winter, the Bank of England has already projected that the UK economy will enter a recession from the fourth quarter of this year.

There is a commitment to address the number of over-50s who are becoming economically inactive. The Growth Plan specifically focuses on delivering measures to get people back into work to boost productivity. Changes to the Universal Credit sanctions regime have also been announced, which will have an impact on those who are furthest away from seeking sustained employment.

In the package of measures announced, the Chancellor confirmed a series of investment zones would be created, that would benefit from lower taxes, employer National Insurance contributions and business rate relief. Contained in the ‘Blue Book’, is a commitment to create 38 investment zones, Essex County Council, and the Greater Manchester, Liverpool City Region and West of England combined authorities are included in the list.

Ian Porée, employee owner and Chief Executive of Seetec, has responded to the Chancellor’s statement today, welcoming action on labour market resilience and the new investment zones, but has called on the Government to consider the impact of additional sanctions on Universal Credit recipients:

“The Government is right to look at new ways to boost growth and productivity to strengthen the economy. That is the right thing to do for communities and UK PLC as the cost of living has been a real concern for months. Tackling issues in the labour market, particularly economic inactivity amongst the over-50s is a positive step too. Seetec has called for a career re-entry scheme, with incentives, to address the increase in over-50s leaving the labour market. Increasing the sanctions regime applied to Universal Credit recipients will need to be looked at carefully, so that the attempt to support people furthest away from sustainable employment does not impact their health and wellbeing.

“It is encouraging that the Government’s Growth Plan addresses childcare commitments. This is something that was explored in our own cost of living pamphlet. We recommended extending the 30 hours free childcare for 9-month-olds and increasing funding for breakfast club provision to support more mothers to return to the workforce more easily, and help the budgets of families.

“The new investment zones are welcome and signal a renewed commitment to levelling up. Putting local authorities at the forefront of this initiative is the right decision, particularly as combined authorities are best placed to deliver regional growth.

“Seetec is committed to working in the national interest to support measures that deliver growth, labour market resilience and productivity in the economy. There is an urgent need to address the rising cost of living and avoid the impact of a protracted recession that will harm the poorest communities the most.”