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How Election Day Could Impact The UK Job Market

Published: Wednesday 11th December 2019

Between July and September of 2019, recruitment fell to its lowest pace in four years, highlighting concern over further delays to Brexit. In the three months to September, according to the ONS (Office National Statistics), the number of people in employment fell 58,000 compared to the previous three months – the biggest fall since summer 2015.  So, how could election day further impact the UK job market?

Brexit news, election. A business man reading a newspaper about UK leaving Europe and the consequences. Concept map 

Hirers are waiting 

It’s clear to see why this is happening. With the UK general election set to take place on December 12th, many employers are holding off on recruitment to see what the outcome of the election will be. Whatever party gains power will have a huge influence on the UK job market based on current manifesto policies.  

As usual, the election looks to be a battle between the Conservative Party and Labour, with polls currently showing the Conservatives just out in frontSo let’s take a look at the manifestos of the two main combatants to see what could potentially happen.  

Labour ‘rewrites the rules’ 

Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrat pin badges over the UK flag, symbolizing the political battle for the General Election

Labour is planning radical reform. Firstly, the party is planning to take back all PFI (Private Finance Initiatives) contracts. These are contracts given to construction firms to handle infrastructure projects such as motorways, hospitals, airport and railroad works. Given the recent collapse of Carillon, this could impact the construction job market until a new plan for funding and tendering pubic infrastructure projects is in place.  

However, Labour’s plan to deliver 150,000 new council houses will undoubtedly add jobs to the same sector, but potentially damage the prospects of those working in property and real estate. Likewise, nationalising utilities firms, the Royal mail and railways will lead to further restructuring. Job losses may occur, but new roles could also be created. 

For workers across the board, Labour plans to introduce a ‘real living wage’ of at least £10 per hour, so while this is good news for those on minimum wage in areas such as hospitality and retail, employers will see greater costs, which could translate into cuts to staffing levels 

Conservatives focused on delivering Brexit 

union jack flag and people walking on Millenium bridge in the background, London - UK prepares for elections after Brexit

While Labour is planning to freeze the pensionable age at 66, the conservatives are expected to press ahead with plans to increase it to 68 thereby meaning people may have to stay in their jobs longer instead of freeing those roles up for the next generation of workers.  

But it’s Brexit that’s causing the biggest headaches for recruiters and the UK stock market. Labour says it intends to renegotiate the deal with the EU, leading to more delays and uncertainty. However, their manifesto does stipulate that EU nationals will retain the right to live and work in the UK after Brexit. 

Meanwhile, the conservatives appear determined to deliver Brexit by 30th January under the terms of the deal already agreed. We’ve already seen the huge impact Brexit has had in terms of many big firms migrating into EU countries are taking jobs with them. And it’s likely we can expect much more of this in the aftermath of leaving the EU, unless, of course the Conservative comes up with plans (and money) to halt the export of these jobs and create new ones at home.  

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One way they plan to do this is by investing in the NHS. The goal is to recruit 50,000 new nurses by introducing maintenance grants for student nurses and building 40 new hospitals. This will be in addition to a new skills fund to provide funding for education and training in other sectors. A discount on the National Insurance payments made by small firms will be allowed to encourage the creation of new jobs. 

As with every election manifesto however, there’s always the chance that the winning party backtracks on their promises. And with Brexit throwing a further curve ball at the UK job market, what the actually outcome is still anyone’s guess. 

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