Last week, Jeremy Hunt (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) delivered the 2023 Autumn Statement, which contained several employment-related updates.
National Minimum Wage (NMW) / National Living Wage (NLW)
The statement announced increases to the NMW as follows:
- 18–20-year-old rate increased to £8.60.
- 16–17-year-old rate increased to £6.40.
- Apprentice rate increased to £6.40.
- Accommodation offset increased to £9.99.
The statement also announced that the NLW would be increased for 21 and 22-year-olds to £11.44.
National Insurance Contributions (NICs)
The statement confirmed that class 1 NICs (for those earning between £12,570 and £50,270 per year) would be slashed from 12% to 10%. This means that if you earn £35,400 you will save around £450 per year.
In addition to reducing class 1 NICs, the government confirmed they will extend the 12-month holiday from class 1 NICs for veterans during their first year of civilian employment by a year to 5 April 2025.
Back to Work Plan
The government announced £2.5 billion worth of funding for their new Back to Work Plan, which aims to support people with disabilities, long-term health conditions and long-term unemployment returning to work. This plan includes:
- Additional Job Centre support.
- Expanding support for people who have been on Universal Credit for more than 6 months.
- NHS Talking Therapies – increasing the number of people who can benefit from mental health treatment and increasing the number of therapy sessions available.
- Stricter sanctions for people who should be looking for work but aren’t.
- Individual Placement and Support – a programme to help an additional 100,000 people with severe mental illnesses to find and keep jobs.
- Matching 100,000 people per year with existing vacancies and supporting them in their new role by providing £4000 per person which helps long-term sick and disabled individuals to find suitable jobs and provides up to £4,000 per to fund training and adjustments.
- WorkWell – a service aimed at supporting people at risk of falling into long term unemployment due to sickness or disability.
Fit Note Reform
The government have announced they will explore reforms to the fit note process to provide people with quick and easy access to specialised work and health support with the aim of helping people return to work. This will begin with trials to test certain changes.
The government have also announced they will establish an expert group advising on a voluntary framework for occupational health. They have also announced they will be working with employers to promote best practice for occupational health.
The statement confirmed that the government will invest £50 million over a two-year pilot with the aim to boost apprenticeship training in sectors that contribute to economic growth. These sectors include engineering, manufacturing, green industries, artificial intelligence and life sciences.
The pilot also aims to break down barriers preventing some employers from offering high quality apprenticeships, such as the costs of equipment and training facilities.