Budget for construction workers
On 15 March, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt unveiled his 2023 Spring Budget, announcing the ‘biggest ever employment package’. As part of its initiative to boost employment figures, the Government plans to ensure the UK labour market has access to the skills and talent it needs from abroad to tackle the immediate labour shortages across the UK, particularly within the construction and hospitality sectors.
Whilst the economic forecast accompanying the budget was good news (the Chancellor assures us we are now heading in to a year of growth rather than the previously predicted recession), the reality on the ground for many sectors (particularly construction) is that labour and materials shortages are stymieing opportunities for growth.
With Brexit hailing the end of the free movement of people in Europe, the new points based immigration system means that overseas workers need to meet strict criteria to enter and work in the UK, usually relying on sponsorship by their UK employer. The process for becoming a sponsor and meeting ongoing compliance requirements may seem daunting (but actually need not be, with the right support) and minimum salaries and the fees associated with sponsoring an overseas worker, can also act as a deterrent.
To help ease labour shortages, the government commissioned the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to undertake an interim Shortage Occupation List (SOL) assessment for the hospitality and construction sectors with a full review planned to conclude later in 2023. The interim assessment recommended that the Government initially add five construction occupations to the SOL. These are: -
- Bricklayers and masons;
- Roofers, roof tilers and slaters;
- Carpenters and joiners;
- Plasters and dryliners; and
- The more general category of ‘construction and building trades not elsewhere classified’.
Through adding these construction jobs to the SOL, sponsoring companies can now pay sponsored workers 20% less than the legal minimum for sponsorship. It has been confirmed these changes will take effect before the summer recess.
Many in the construction sector have welcomed this announcement, including The Federation of Master Builders (FMB), who have predicted that the construction sector will need at least 225,000 additional workers by 2027 to meet increasing demand particularly given the levelling-up agenda and the maintenance of the housebuilding industry.
Get in touch
If you would like to know more about becoming an overseas sponsor licence holder, please contact our business immigration specialist, Victoria Bevis or for construction law advice please contact Caroline Watkins.
This article was prepared by Rebecca Turner, Victoria Bevis and Caroline Watkins.