Chamber news: Business Council Focuses On Workforce Issues

Dec 12, 2023

Workforce issues were the focus of the BCC’s second Business Council meeting, held this morning, alongside Work and Pensions Secretary Rt Hon Mel Stride MP and Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Liz Kendall MP.

The new body, comprising some of the most prominent British businesses, has been brought together to work in partnership with politicians to drive the future of the economy at this crucial time.

Research by the BCC’s Insight Unit continues to highlight the workforce pressures firms are facing. Our most recent Quarterly Recruitment Outlook, published in October (a survey of nearly 5,000 firms of all sizes and sectors) found that 73% of firms attempting to recruit have faced difficulties. Hospitality firms remain the most likely to report challenges in hiring staff (79%). 66% of companies say labour costs are a financial pressure.

Business Council members took part in a question-and-answer sessions with each senior politician, discussing their work and pensions briefs and wider issues.

Since being established during the summer, the Council has been focusing on five key challenges and developing policy proposals to help transform the future of the UK economy. The challenge groups have also included working with experts, Chamber representatives and academics. The first policy recommendations will be published in early 2024.

BCC President and Business Council Chair, Baroness Martha Lane Fox, said:   

“Businesses tell us that workforce issues are a real concern right now.

“We have just under a million job vacancies in the economy, and skills shortages are damaging businesses’ ability to operate profitably – as well as impacting the wellbeing and morale of remaining staff.

“Businesses and politicians need to work together to resolve this problem. That’s why we were delighted to welcome both Mel Stride and Liz Kendall to our second Business Council meeting.

“The expertise and experience of our Business Council members meant both politicians were given valuable ideas on how to solve the issues the UK economy is facing.

“The Business Council has been working hard over recent months, alongside other stakeholders, to develop impactful policy proposals on the key challenges businesses are facing.

“We can’t wait to start outlining these ideas early in 2024”.
  
Mel Stride MP, Work and Pensions Secretary said: 

“Our labour market continues to show its strength with a record number of employees on payrolls, helping businesses to succeed and grow our economy.

“And we’re pressing on – our £2.5 billion Back to Work plan will help hundreds of thousands of people into work. I’m delighted to be building on our record, working with the BCC’s Business Council as we continue to support companies across a range of sectors to fill vacancies through our Jobcentres.”

Liz Kendall MP, Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary said:

“I was delighted to meet with the Business Council this morning to hear about the challenges facing businesses and the barriers preventing individuals from getting into work.

“We are the only G7 country with an employment rate that hasn’t returned to pre-pandemic levels and a record number of people are now locked out of work due to long term sickness. It’s bad for them, it’s bad for business, and it’s bad for the taxpayer too.

“I was pleased to have the chance to discuss Labour’s plan to get Britain working. To tackle the root causes of economic inactivity by driving down NHS waiting lists, reforming social security, making work pay, and supporting people into good jobs across every part of the country.”

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