Published byREC

REC responds to the Labour manifesto 2024

Commenting on the Labour manifesto 2024, Kate Shoesmith, REC Deputy Chief Executive, said:

“Sustained economic growth is absolutely the answer to a better deal for workers, employers and improved public services – and it comes from unlocking the potential in our dynamic labour market. As we argued in our own REC manifesto, an industrial strategy that gets the people and skills policies right will make all the difference. Businesses need certainty to plan investment, so it is good to see the commitment to a single Budget per year and a business taxes roadmap. We’ll need the same level of insight and realism on how to address public sector funding challenges going forward.”

Kate Shoesmith said:

“While there are signs in Labour’s manifesto that they increasingly understand how flexibility in the labour market is both pro-business and pro-worker, we need to see much greater levels of clarification and a real partnership approach with business from whoever forms the next government. Tackling economic inactivity by investing in supporting people into work is important. We welcome more opportunities for young people to train flexibly and hope a flexible skills levy provides the training funding that can also be accessed by temporary workers. Recruiters will be keen to work with Skills England to offer insight into local jobs markets and employer needs. Plans to bring Jobcentre Plus and the National Careers Service together could help tackle skills shortages – but only if they are funded sufficiently and can draw upon the information and insights our members have at their fingertips.

“We back the need to modernise employment laws and give workers clarity on their rights – just as we set out in our ‘labour laws fit for the future’ recommendations. Our recruiters and employers already adhere to a myriad of regulations. Enforcing these regulations is what roots out the bad practice and gives competitive edge to the good and great UK businesses out there – which is why we have long supported the creation of a Single Enforcement Body. But again, it needs to be resourced effectively, it needs to be responsible for the whole labour supply chain – including umbrellas, and it needs to really understand today’s flexible labour market and how people choose to work.

“Today’s labour market is very different to previous decades. If we want to improve the NHS, cut waiting lists and get more people into work, we need to think about recruitment and retention strategies that meet people where they are. So many public services just would not function without access to freelancers, interims, contractors, agency workers and those with project-based skills. Today’s labour market is also a global one, and if we want the UK to remain competitive, we need to think about the signals we send to talent around the world. A joined-up approach to skills and immigration policy is what is called for – otherwise we risk a £39bn cost per year from not tackling ongoing labour and skills shortages.”