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Spring Budget 2023 – What FMs Need to Know

Spring Budget 2023 – What FMs Need to Know
16 March 2023

Upskilling programmes for the over 50s, twelve new high investment zones and additions to the Shortage Occupation List were all revealed in Jeremy Hunt’s spring budget. Let’s take a look at what facilities managers need to know.


Immigration Rules Relaxed for Some Construction Roles – Shortage Occupation List


To attract international talent and combat labour shortages, Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt will add five construction occupations to the Shortage Occupation List. This was a recommendation brought forward by the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) ahead of its wider review of the list, concluding in autumn 2023. The list contains skilled occupations that the UK job market is currently unable to fill adequately, and includes roles like vets, architects and care workers.  Work visas for these roles are more easily obtained in the UK than others.

The following occupations will now join that list:


  • Bricklayers and masons
  • Roofers, roof tilers and slaters
  • Carpenters and joiners
  • Construction and building trades n.e.c  (those working on the maintenance and repair of buildings, steeples, industrial chimneys and underwater structures)
  • Plasterers


The government also announced more employment support for Ukrainians, to support them entering the labour market, providing £11.5 million to offer intensive English language courses and employment support to up to 10,000 individuals.


Returnerships for the Over 50s


Again, looking to the labour shortage in the UK, a new “Returnerships” apprenticeship targeted at the over 50s was also announced. There are over 11 million people aged 65 in the UK currently, increasing to 13 million people in ten years time – 22 per cent of the population.

The Returnerships programme will look to help older workers to find a path back into work, upskilling and retraining them with sector-based work placements and skills bootcamps.

Dr David Crosthwaite, Head of Consultancy Services at the Building Cost Information Service (BCIS) feels that these measures don’t go far enough, describing the budget as “underwhelming”. He said: "The announcement of measures to boost the number of Ukrainians entering the labour market and returnerships, targeted at the over 50s – will do little to replenish construction’s dwindling workforce. We need a more concerted approach that prioritises investment in apprenticeships and training, to tackle ingrained labour shortages."  


12 New Investment Zones 


Jeremy Hunt also set out a plan to encourage economic growth in twelve new high-investment zones in the Midlands, Greater Manchester, Teesside, Liverpool, and other parts of the Midlands and the north. Each English Investment Zone will have access to £80 million worth of interventions over five years, including tax reliefs and grant funding.

Each cluster will drive the growth of at least one “key future sector” - green industries, digital technologies, life sciences, creative industries and advanced manufacturing.


“No Focus” on Net-Zero Initiatives


Mark Caskey, Managing Director of Mitie Projects, felt that the Spring Budget statement didn’t prioritise initiatives in meeting the government’s 2050 net-zero target enough:

“It’s disappointing that net-zero initiatives were not prioritised in the Chancellor’s budget statement given the role energy efficiency, solar technology, and EV transition must play in achieving a net zero Britain by 2050,” he said.

“There must be a stronger focus on reducing the emissions of our built environment especially for non-domestic buildings which are responsible for nearly 40 million tonnes of the UK’s annual CO2 emissions. Given these make up nearly a fifth of the nation’s overall carbon footprint, it’s clear that the decarbonisation of these buildings needs far greater priority and urgency.”

Gillian Charlesworth, CEO of the Building Research Establishment, questioned the lack of information on the Energy Efficiency Taskforce announced at last year’s Autumn Statement, and how the government plans to reduce energy demand across domestic and commercial buildings.

“Decarbonising our building stock needs to form a core part of the green transition, to bring energy prices down significantly and bolster the efficiency of our buildings. To this end, maintaining funding for our net-zero commitments is imperative, and we are disappointed that this detail was lacking in the Chancellor’s statement…”

Picture: a photograph of a pig, indicating a piggy bank, which is a common style of moneybox. Image Credit: Unsplash

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 16 March 2023


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