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Government needs to stop its paralysis on work other than Brexit


Catch up with Chamber assistant director of policy, Rachel Anderson as published in the Northern Echo.

I’m sorry, I hate to do this to you but I feel like I haven’t really got a choice, I’m going to have to mention Brexit, I promise it is only a quick mention and in what feels like the most febrile waiting game to find out what happens it turns out everyone bar one person has read the plot in the Radio Times and knows which way the vote is going to go.What we don’t know yet is what happens in the episode after the “duh-duh duh duh” drums sound on the 11th December.

I promised it would only be a quick mention, but it serves to make my point. I’ve used up a quarter of this column talking about how Brexit as an all-consuming topic seems to be paralysing Government and impeding progress in other areas as politicians seem to be mesmerised into inaction.

Take education and skills for example, Governments past have made it their top priority, in this one it barely features.There are some big policy ambitions around the funding of Apprenticeships and how they should be paid for and the introduction of T Levels to bring parity of esteem between academic and vocational routes.As with all policies there is good and bad but the tweaks that need to be made seem to be stuck in the Whitehall tar pit.For example, we have long argued that the Apprenticeship Levy is unlikely to create a significant number of new apprenticeship places if employers cannot either pay it down their supply chain or pool it with other employers to upskill the workforce.Using the levy for supply chains was always in the Government’s mind but so far nothing has happened.

Similarly, there are some reservations around the effectiveness of T Levels and how they relate to employment, but these have so far fallen on deaf ears with a T Level roll out due.Surely it is better to get the policy right from the beginning rather than roll out something half baked for lack of attention in Whitehall as the civil service wrestle with the implications of Brexit for their Departments.

This paralysis can’t carry on if we are to have a business environment fit for purpose so the sooner the key questions on Brexit are sorted out the better then we can all get on with something more productive.