UK jobs: what to expect from the 2016 Autumn Statement

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The 2016 Autumn Statement promises to be one of the most significant in recent years - it may even be the last in the UK. Brexit, foreign policy and a general sense of policy direction will all feature heavily, but what statements should we expect from Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond that address UK jobs, business and the economy?

Workers - British workers will be hoping for a few reassurances that wage growth will be prioritised, but pundits have predicted that pay freezes in the public sector will continue. Workers’ rights will be retained post Brexit and efforts will be taken to curb the level of international workers coming into the UK. Expect a string of proposals and declarations around the ‘British jobs for British workers’ pledge.

Employment figures - UK employment figures will undoubtedly be highlighted during the statement at some point. What is less certain, however, is how detailed the speech will be in regards to employment statuses that make up the current UK workforce, for example self-employed, part-time and full-time employment figures. Hammond may touch upon the industries that have performed well, and buoyancy in UK jobs’ markets post Brexit.   

UK economy - The Autumn Statement tends to be less weighty than The Budget which takes place in the first quarter of the year. Expect fewer, specific statements but a general emphasis on the UK economy as a whole. Philip Hammond stated in July that he will ‘reset’ the British economy, while ditching the 2020 budget surplus target. UK productivity plans may be discussed, alongside a general discussion about new trading relationships that won’t go into much detail, plus a few giveaways for businesses and individuals.

Devolution - City councils outside of London will be seeking answers to questions on the devolution of powers. This will be a crucial time for the UK government to reassure cities and counties in Great Britain by outlining devolved tax deals that will help to bolster regional jobs’ markets and infrastructure spending. However, The Budget is often used to spell out more detailed policy.

Business - Stabilising the UK economy will be intrinsically tied to finding the right business policies that will promote the UK as an attractive place to set up shop. A few nods to how Brexit negotiations will begin next March may be disclosed early to calm the nerves of industry sectors, most notably services and financial sectors. It has been suggested that the UK may need to undergo a bold infrastructure plan beyond Heathrow in response to current concerns. Levels of devolution will inevitably feed into the narrative, alongside the importance of remaining cautious during negotiations and targeted public investment in high-value infrastructure.

When is it? The statement will take place on Wednesday, November 23 at around 12.30pm after Prime Minister’s Questions.

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