11 Jun 2024
by Tania Bowers

APSCo responds to Conservative Manifesto

Responding to the Conservative Manifesto launched today, Tania Bowers, Global Public Policy Director at the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo) commented:

The Conservative Manifesto shows a clear focus on using tax breaks in order to appeal to voters. However, for UK businesses and the labour market, the detail that has been announced so far suggests there is little to boost economic productivity or bolster the labour market. It’s clear that much of the tax breaks will be funded by clamping down on tax avoidance. This may be a positive move if implemented appropriately, particularly in terms of proper management of the umbrella market. This could also be interpreted as a possible big push on off payroll once again, though. Should this be the case, the move may dampen the contractor market which is needed for growth.

Plans to continue to push apprenticeships without heeding the advice of businesses and trade bodies such as APSCo is of concern. As we have highlighted, if apprenticeships are to be appropriate for the modern, more flexible world of work, then how they are run and funded needs to be reformed. Increasing the number of apprenticeships won't bridge the gap in take-up of these study routes.

The plan to scrap the main rate of NICs for the self-employed in the next Parliament is flawed. Not only will this fail to increase security for these workers in terms of sick-pay, pensions and other core elements, but it also applies only to those who are unincorporated. For the professional staffing sector, the majority of these workers will be incorporated, due to the tax laws that apply to recruitment businesses engaging them and the fact that unincorporated self-employment is inherently insecure. Given that the UK is facing a dearth of highly skilled professionals in critical sectors such as healthcare, IT, security and manufacturing, it is these workers that need the Government’s attention.

With the UK’s skills crisis growing, the planned cuts on immigration could be a blunt instrument for the economy. Regional assessments that are based on individual skill-requirements should be considered in order to ensure the country’s labour market is dynamic and meets the evolving needs of businesses.

It’s concerning that as of yet, no party has made it clear that they are speaking directly to businesses, meaning that manifesto plans are likely to be out of touch with the realities of modern-day economic difficulties.”