Four people competing for each job vacancy in Hull

There are currently over 9,000 people out of work in the city, with just over 2,000 vacancies.

A new report has shown that there are four job seekers competing for each role available in Hull, which is considerably higher than the national average that currently stands at 1.2.

As a result, the LGA, which supports and promotes local authorities, is calling for councils to be granted more powers to tackle unemployment and the cost of living crisis. Across England, nearly a third of council areas had at least two people competing for each job vacancy, while in some places that figure was much higher.

Kevin Bentley, chairman of the LGA’s people and places board, said: “These changes are not being felt equally across the country, with too many people battling for fewer jobs in some areas, while in others employers are crying out for skilled workers to meet demand. The Government’s ‘one size fits all’ national approach to employment and skills is no longer fit for purpose.

“Levelling up should mean adapting support to local needs, making it more personalised and joined-up for people seeking work, while recognising the wide variations not just between different parts of the country, but also within them. No area should be left behind.

“Councils and combined authorities – who know their communities best – want to be front and centre in ensuring everyone has the chance to learn new skills and find work, in good jobs needed by local businesses, in the places where they live.”

Job vacancies outnumber unemployment for first time

The unemployment rate dropped to 3.7% between January and March, its lowest in almost 50 years, as job openings soared to a new high of 1.3 million.

However, wages, excluding bonuses, failed to keep pace with rising prices, a problem that is expected to intensify due to growing food and fuel costs.

The figures show “a mixed picture” said the Office for National Statistics.

Ben Harrison, director of the Work Foundation think tank at Lancaster University, said: “Despite employment continuing to rise, today’s figures underline the challenges facing workers who are seeing inflation eat away at their living standards.”

The data showed that there was a rise in the number of people moving from economic inactivity – classed as those aged 16-64 who haven’t been working or seeking a job – into employment.

At the same time, people moving from job-to-job also reached a record high “driven by resignations rather than dismissals”, said the ONS.

“Total employment, while up on the quarter, remains below its pre-pandemic level,” said Darren Morgan, director of economic statistics at the ONS.

“Since the start of the pandemic, around half a million more people have completely disengaged from the labour market,” he added.

“However, job vacancies are still rising, reaching yet another record high.”

Confusion over pay rates for NHS agency workers could lead to further staff shortages and concerns over patient safety

Staffing agencies in the healthcare sector are concerned that NHS agency workers are not getting the pay increase awarded to substantive staff last year, and that agencies are unfairly being left responsible for covering the increased National Insurance contributions announced by the Chancellor. This could represent a serious threat to the sector’s ability to provide staff to the NHS – which is already struggling with long waiting lists and the most significant staff shortages we have seen since the start of the pandemic.

On 29 March 2022, NHS England and Improvement (NHSEI) published their updated agency rate card which determines wage rates for 2022-23. This publication fails to award agency workers with the 3% increase given to their permanent equivalents, and comes just days before National Minimum Wage and National Insurance changes come into force. This short notice creates operational challenges for agencies and the NHS Trusts they supply, and prevents workers having clarity around their new pay rates – at a time when the cost of living crisis has already started to bite. This is despite the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) having raised the issue numerous times with various government organisations since July 2021.

The REC is urging government and the NHS to undertake a fundamental review of frameworks and price caps in the health service, as well as work with agencies on building a long-term workforce plan.

Kate Shoesmith, Deputy CEO of the REC, said:

“Over the past two years and more, healthcare staffing agencies and agency workers have proven what an important part of the NHS they are – and were personally thanked by the then Minister for their contribution during the pandemic. Every day, our members place temporary staff exactly where they are needed, efficiently and at incredibly short notice. Without agency staff the NHS would be unable to meet patient needs, so it is vital that the sector is supported to remain viable. Constant pressure on agency rates fails to take into account why people currently choose to work via an agency in the NHS, and will only make the current staff shortages worse. If this is allowed to continue, we will see an uplift in off-framework activity. Our members can provide insight to help government and the NHS build a really sustainable and successful health service. If that expertise and experience is ignored, it will only impact patient care – and no one wants that.” 

Is ‘Bleak Friday’ all about The Chancellor balancing the books?

Today, we saw an increase in the National Living Wage. So, what does this mean for you?

As an employee, you will see a pay increase of 6.6%. However, the financial impact on businesses is considerable.

Many businesses across the UK will find themselves in a difficult position with an increased National Living Wage alongside the introduction of the Health and Social Care Levy. The timing of this is unfortunate as we are experiencing sky-high fuel prices and an increase to energy prices which will see the average household fork out an extra £700 per year annum on average.

The drastic increase in energy prices is due to a number of factors, including an increase in wholesale global energy prices, with gas prices increasing to a record high in the last six months and wholesale prices quadrupling in the last year or so.

This rise in energy is predicted to be not only here for the short term but it is expected the next price cap increase will take place in October this year and may continue for several years to come

The result of this is that many businesses and households across the country will struggle financially this year and the question is, what can be done?

Can the government do more? Many are left wondering if the government are giving with one hand and taking with the other. Whilst the increase in National Living Wage, the £150 council tax discount and a £200 rebate on energy bills may help to offset some financial difficulties, the introduction of the Health Care levy paired with an increase in both energy bills and council tax may tip the scales unfavourably.

Undoubtedly, the country is facing the most significant financial hardship its’ faced since World War 2 due to the pandemic, and we have to consider whether the Chancellor has been backed into a corner with these decisions.

Whilst the government offered support to employees and employers alike during COVID, with the introduction of the Furlough Scheme, this has to come at a cost. The introduction of the Health and Social Care Levy is anticipated to raise almost £36 billion which we are assured will go straight back to the frontline services across the UK.

Many have challenged the government on the introduction of the levy, stating that it is breaking the Conservative manifesto commitment not to raise taxes.

The cost of living is increasing, as are businesses overheads, but we need businesses to succeed and thrive to ensure our economy is stable.

Do you know about the introduction of the Health Care Levy from April 2022?

As well as an increase in the National Living Wage in April 2022, we also see the introduction of the Health Care Levy from April 2022. This will see an increase of 1.25% in your National Insurance Contributions.

As a result of the above statutory changes, it is likely there will be a reduction to your take home pay from April 2022 onwards, however in the Spring budget, the Chancellor announced that, from July, the earnings threshold at which people start to pay National Insurance will rise to £12,570. From July it has been estimated that those earning under £35,000 will likely see a reduction in their National Insurance payments

The introduction of this new levy is something that is not driven by SureStaffing UK or any of its associated companies. This is a UK-wide Government levy that will impact all taxpayers.

Please note we are not able to advise you on the effects of this levy and to the impact it will have to your personal circumstances.

National Living Wage is set to increase, but is it enough?

The National Living Wage (NLW) will rise to £9.50 from 1st April 2022, which represents an increase of £0.59 or 6.6% from the current National Living Wage of £8.91

This increase is based on the Low Pay Commission’s recommendations and puts the minimum wage back on track to reach the Government’s target of two thirds of median earnings by 2024.

Below is a chart showing the current and new rates as of 1st April 2022.

Rate from April 2022 Current rate (April 2021 to March 2022) Increase
National Living Wage £9.50 £8.91 6.6%
21-22 Year Old Rate £9.18 £8.36 9.8%
18-20 Year Old Rate £6.83 £6.56 4.1%
16-17 Year Old Rate £4.81 £4.62 4.1%
Apprentice Rate £4.81 £4.30 11.9%
Accommodation Offset £8.70 £8.36 4.1%

 

UK falling behind international peers in adult technical skills

The UK is falling behind international peers in terms of adult technical skills with just 18% of 25–64-year olds’ holding a vocational qualification. We are currently experiencing an incredibly tight labour market, exacerbated by labour and skills shortages. Tackling economic inactivity and ensuring we can upskill and reskill our domestic workforce is critical, especially when you consider that UK employers spend just half the European average on training their employees.

To help alleviate this issue, the government is considering whether the operation of the Apprenticeship Levy is doing enough to incentivise businesses to invest in a variety of training.

The impact of levy reform in the current labour market could be higher than ever before – helping to fill vacancies quickly by equipping people with the right skills. A more accessible route to using levy money would be a valuable tool in the government’s levelling up agenda and improve social mobility. In the five years between 2015 and 2020, the number of new apprentices fell by a whopping 237,470. Reforming the levy is something the REC has campaigned on for years, and we’ll continue to work with Ministers and officials to ensure it works effectively for everyone in the labour market.

Read more here – https://www.rec.uk.com/our-view/insights/government-and-campaigns/spring-statement-2022

Latest labour market statistics in from ONS

Latest figures from the ONS labour market review show promising growth. Estimates for November 2021 to January 2022 show a continuing recovery in the labour market, with a quarterly increase in the employment rate and a decrease in the unemployment rate. However, economic inactivity has increased slightly on the quarter.

The UK employment rate increased by 0.1 percentage points on the quarter to 75.6%. Full-time employees drove the increase in the employment rate during the latest three-month period. While the number of part-time employees decreased significantly during the coronavirus pandemic, it has been steadily increasing since April to June 2021. However, the number of self-employed workers remains low following decreases through the coronavirus pandemic.

Estimates of pay rolled employees show another monthly increase (up 275,000) in February 2022 to a record 29.7 million.

 

The pandemic has made a four-day working week more attractive to workers and businesses

COVID-19, lockdowns and a shift to remote working has had a significant impact on organisations’ attitudes towards a shorter working week, new research from Henley Business School has revealed.

The study found that 65% of UK businesses surveyed are now implementing a four-day working week for some, or all, of their staff, compared with 50% who answered a similar survey carried out by Henley in 2019.

Businesses which have introduced a four-day week are already benefiting from significant financial savings, with those surveyed claiming to have saved an estimated £104bn, approximately 2.2% of the UK’s annual turnover.

The new report, titled The four-day week: The pandemic and the evolution of flexible-working, explores the benefits of working fewer days to both organisations and workers, including improved quality of work (64%), the ability to attract and retain the right talent (68%), and employees feeling less stressed at work (78%).

The study is part of an update to the business school’s 2019 report Four Better or Four Worse, which explored the relatively new concept of a four-day working week and the potential financial impacts on businesses. However, the pandemic brought the conversation to the fore in ways the researchers could not have predicted and provided an unexpected testing-ground for flexible working practices which were previously thought to be unattainable.

The research explored what flexible working options were most appealing to employees, with 69% stating that working fewer days for the same pay, while being able to choose which day they took off, was the most attractive option. Rather unsurprisingly, 61% also said they would choose to take Fridays off.

The pandemic has also improved attitudes towards working from home, with 51% of workers supporting a move to home-working, compared with 43% in 2019. The study found a general disdain for commuting among employees’ reasons for wanting to work from home, with 62% stating this as a key reason to choose flexible working, and 27% of employees surveyed even said they would be willing to take a pay cut in order to work from home.