What does Labour's National Policy Forum (NPF) offer the recruitment industry?
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Labour's National Policy Forum (NPF) provides business and industry experts an opportunity to shape future Labour policy, sharing policy recommendations centred around six core themes.
In March, the REC fed into this year's consultation process, and now Labour has published its response. The whopping 116-page document is crammed with policy content, and whilst it won't all make it into the Labour manifesto, it does provide a good steer on where Labour thinking is right now. Below is a roundup of the key recommendations that matter for REC members.
Better Jobs and Better Work
Already widely trailed in the media, Labour intends to reform the Apprenticeship Levy, turning it into a Growth and Skills Levy, which will be split 50/50, with half for formal Apprenticeships, and half for shorter, modular and practical courses. Skills England, a new expert body, will oversee the new Growth and Skills Levy, along with national skills more broadly.
To modernise working arrangements and industrial relations, Deputy Leader, Angela Rayner previously announced a New Deal for Working People, which includes plans on collective bargaining, commitments to end 'one sided flexibility' by banning zero-hours contracts, and plans to consult on future worker status. This new deal will be supported by an Employment Rights Bill, which Labour has promised to deliver within the first 100 days of government. This Bill would create the long-awaited Single Enforcement Body (SEB). Labour also plans to repeal any legislation that undermines the right for workers to strike. This would include any further changes made to Regulation 7 of the Conduct Regulations, on which government is currently consulting.
With better business engagement in mind, Labour has also announced the Council for Economic Growth, which will be chaired by Rachel Reeves (Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer) and Jonathan Reynolds (Shadow Secretary of State for Business & Trade) as a cross businesses, industry, union collaboration to advise Labour on its mission to deliver the highest sustained growth in the G7.
Ensuring a more linked-up immigration system and industrial strategy, Labour are seeking to reform and strengthen the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) and give it more independence to review evidence for jobs in shortage. Labour will encourage the MAC to adopt a 'long-term approach' and collaborate with Skills England to better review training and skills gaps, and where future workforce needs are, to help build the domestic talent pipeline in the UK.
Public Services that work from the start
On public sector procurement, Labour say they aim to bring about the biggest wave of insourcing in public services. As REC has pointed out before, this must not become about chasing the lowest cost provision, as we've seen within the NHS for example, where frameworks don't work effectively and end up costing taxpayers more in the long-run. However, on government procurement specifically, Labour has committed to levelling the playing field to make it easier for small businesses to bid, something the 2015 Public Contract Regulations have failed to deliver. As ever, we'll continue to work with all parties on procurement to make sure they get this right for everyone in the supply chain.
Labour plans to use spare capacity in the independent sector to treat NHS patients and bring waiting lists down while they reform and strengthen NHS-delivered services and capacity for the future. Importantly, Labour has also committed to publishing a long-term NHS workforce plan, one which focuses on both recruitment and retention. We will continue to push for future workplans to recognise the value and contributions of everyone in our labour market, including vital agency nurses, doctors, and teachers. There are also plans to introduce a 'Fair Deal for Carers' “which will seek to ensure that care workers (paid and unpaid) receive the pay, conditions, and training they need to provide great care and stay in the sector”.
A future where families come first
Another key focus for Labour is childcare reform. Key to this is a childcare professional strategy to ensure the sustainability of the sector, with an overarching vision for childcare professionals. This will also include plans to ensure that there is adequate childcare provision for all, and better parental leave entitlement enabling more people, particularly mothers to stay in work. As part of this work, the REC will be feeding into the independent review by Sir David Bell on early years education in the childcare sector.
Labour's Deal for Working People will also contain reforms on things like Menopause Action Plans - something the REC has called for previously - ethnicity and disability pay gap reporting for large employers, and action to tackle barriers faced by Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic people in the workplace.
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