UK Spring Budget 2023: Getting people back into work key route for growth & robust public services

Chancellor’s reforms to boost employment deliver on calls by the Serco Institute to reduce barriers for those re-entering workforce.

The Serco Institute welcomes the Chancellor’s focus on encouraging people back into the workplace, noting its recent research on career breaks called for action in this area.

The Institute’s global study – Breaking Point - found that only 42% of people feel able to take a career break, while 80% fear taking one would negatively impact their career progression. The research found that childcare and family caring responsibilities are the most often cited reason for stepping back from a career.

The Chancellor has announced 30 hours of free childcare for every child over the age of 9 months with working parents will be available by September 2025. This is part of significant reform to encourage parents who are currently out of the workforce to care for their children back into employment.

As noted by the Chancellor in his Budget speech, career breaks often impact women disproportionately, due to a larger number of women leaving their professional lives to take on family and caring responsibilities. Through significant polling, the Institute confirmed that women were consistently less confident in their ability to take and return from a career break, despite being significantly more likely to take one. For example, women, were 19 percentage points less likely than men to agree that they could return to work following a career break without a negative impact on their professional life.

The Chancellor’s focus on AI and innovation was also welcomed, with the Institute noting that public services could also benefit from new tech and should be early adopters to be future fit and more efficient.

Commenting, Ben O’Keeffe, Serco Institute Deputy Director said:

“We are very pleased to see that recommendations from the Institute’s Breaking Point research on career breaks are being delivered through this Budget.

“The Chancellor’s announcements today to encourage more people back into the workforce will help not only the wider economy, but also public services.

“Removing barriers for people to return to work – particularly in relation to family and childcare pressures - and continue on in their careers is vital if we are not only going to have a thriving economy, but also robust public services that can deliver day-in, day-out. We hope these announcements can help start a cultural shift that allows more and more talented people to return to work, from all backgrounds.

“The Chancellor also focused on finding new routes for growth, with investment in improving the nation’s technology sector also a vital part of today’s Budget. Developing the AI, digital and tech industry promises to set the UK apart as a global tech hub. Again, this is something not only important when it comes to economic growth, but equally crucial to making public services more efficient and future fit.

“Amidst a changing economic, social and technological landscape, delivering quality public services remains key to the future success of the UK. When implemented, we are hopeful that many of the measures outlined in today’s Budget will help achieve this aim.”

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