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So what does the 2004 Budget mean for HR?



Despite announcements to axe civil servants jobs, ways to help people into work along with reforms to reduce regulatory burden were key themes to emerge in today’s Budget.

Chancellor Gordon Brown announced a range of initiatives aimed at helping people into work, including pilots providing help for lone parents seeking employment and help for people on incapacity-related benefits to move back into work.

The welfare to work package includes:

  • Piloting a mandatory work-focused interview for some existing claimants of incapacity benefits and a job preparation premium of £20 per week for those on incapacity benefits who take active steps to return to work

  • Introducing a work search premium of £20 per week in six pilot areas with high levels of unemployment

  • Working with employers to increase employment opportunities for people aged 50 and over

  • Establishing ‘Fair Cities’ initiatives to support the creation of employer-led partnerships between local employers, public bodies, providers and ethnic minority communities.

    Other reforms

    The Government is going to create a ‘one stop shop’ advice service to help people move from low to high skilled work and extend Employer Training Pilots (ETPs) as part of a New Deal on Skills.

    The Chancellor also announced a consultation on a 10-year framework to boost investment in science and innovation and reforms to reduce regulatory burden by bringing all business legislation in on set dates.

    CIPD’s response

    The CIPD welcomed the Chancellor’s general focus on education, science and enterprise, and red tape and welfare reforms: “This was the first New Labour budget that seemed genuinely concerned to reduce the burden of red tape and regulation on UK business. However, the proposed consultation and the promised calls to the EU to rationalise its approach to regulation should lead to serious reform rather than become a smoke screen for inaction,” said the CIPD’s Chief Economist, John Philpott.

    “With so many economically inactive people in the economy and employers struggling to fill many vacancies, it is vital that the welfare to work agenda is strengthened. The decision announced in the budget to pilot new ways of encouraging people on lone parent and incapacity benefit into work, stressing that they have responsibilities to seek jobs as well as a right to benefit, is a welcome step in the right direction,” he said.

    But the CIPD cautioned that it will be important to ensure that employers are closely involved in the process of offering advice and that skills seekers are made fully aware of the hard and soft skills required in the workplace.

    AccountingWEB, HR Zone’s sister community site, is on hand to guide you through Brown’s maze – examining the impact of new measures on small and medium-size businesses and drawing together all the budget announcements and analysis. See for more information.

    A full copy of Gordon Brown’s speech can be read by clicking here.

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