Budget 2023 highlights: Returnerships and free childcare

Peninsula Team

March 16 2023

In the Budget, the Chancellor announced plans for ‘returnerships’ for over-50s and an extension to childcare support for working parents

Apprentice ‘returnerships’ for over-50s

Apprenticeship-style programmes, called ‘returnerships’ will be targeted at over 50s to learn new skills and return to work. 

It will promote accelerated apprenticeships, Sector-Based Work Academy Programme placements and skills bootcamps.

In his speech, Jeremy Hunt said: ‘We will introduce a new kind of apprenticeship targeted at the over 50s who want to return to work.

‘They will be called returnerships and operate alongside skills boot camps and sector-based work academies. They will bring together our existing skills programmes to make them more appealing for older workers, focusing on flexibility and previous experience to reduce training length.’

This will support better access to re-training and allow workers of all ages to engage with the opportunities of a second career.

It will be supported by £63m for an additional 8,000 skills bootcamps places in 2024-25 in England, and 40,000 new sector-based work academy programme placements across 2023-24 and 2024-25 in England and Scotland.

Richard Godman, tax partner at Menzies LLP, said: ‘Flexible skills training for the over-50s is intended to help tackle the productivity gap by getting people with the right skills or experience back to work. As well as helping to address skills gaps, it will also help to boost the tax take further of course – a win-win for the economy for the government in its bid to lower the budget deficit.’

Free childcare extended to 30 hours

The Chancellor set out long-term plans to offer up to 30 hours of free childcare for every child over the age of nine months by September 2025.

The measure will be introduced in phases, with 15 hours of free childcare for working parents of two-year-olds coming into effect in April 2024 and 15 hours of free childcare for working parents of nine months to three years old in September 2024.

The extended childcare support will cover over £4.1bn by 2027-28 and the eligibility criteria will match the existing three to four-year-old 30 hours offer.

The funding paid to nurseries for the existing free hours offers will also be increased by £204m from this September rising to £288m next year.

Schools and local authorities will be funded to increase the supply of wraparound care, so that parents of school age children can drop their children off between 8am and 6pm – tackling the barriers to working caused by limited availability of wraparound care.

The childcare costs of parents moving into work or increasing their hours on Universal Credit will be paid upfront rather than in arrears, with the maximum claim increased to £951 for one child and £1,630 for two children – an increase of around 50%.

In recognition of both the importance and short supply of childminders, incentive payments of £600 will be piloted from autumn of this year for those who sign up to the profession (rising to £1,200 for those who join through an agency) to increase the number available and increase choice and affordability for parents.

Laura Hinton, head of PwC’s UK tax and people consulting business, said: ‘The government’s plan to expand the 30 free hours to children under three is a big boost to working parents juggling the cost of childcare. It may take time for parents to feel the benefit, given we won’t yet have the childcare facilities or workers in place to cover the need.

‘The policy is also likely to be well received by the broader voting public; our research shows that people across the political spectrum, including non parents, believe incentives for parents of young children are fair - more so than measures to support the over 50s into work.

‘Our recent Women in Work report found that high childcare fees - which are some of the highest in the developed world and represent almost a third of the income of a family on the average UK wage - have been pricing women out of work and causing the gender pay gap to widen.’

For more information on the latest Budget, visit BrAInbox today where you can find answers to questions like What was included in the March 2023 Budget that affects HR?

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