Chancellor Philip Hammond announced a variety of measures aimed at changes to universal credit, mental health, enterprise and self-employment, apprenticeship provision, skills and productivity.

Lets start with the apprenticeship levy. From April the government will make up to £450 million available to enable levy paying employers to transfer up to 25% of their funds to pay for apprenticeship training in their supply chains. Likewise, for the smaller firms their co-financing contribution to apprenticeship training which will be halved from 10% to 5%, a provision of up to £240 million for smaller employers. A consultation on the future of the apprenticeship levy will be launched to understand how providers are responding to the programme across the UK with a particular focus on strengthening the role of apprenticeships in the post 2020 skills and Brexit landscape. The Institute of Apprenticeships and National Apprenticeship Service will be granted an additional £5million to further identify training provision gaps and increase employer designed apprenticeships standards available to employers. New courses will start in 2020.

£100 million has been allocated for the National Retraining Scheme (NRS). This will include a new careers guidance service including sourcing work opportunities and courses to further develop transferable skills. £20 million is being made available to fund skills pilots which will include a £7 million match fund for employers to provide on the job training to young people not currently in employment, education or training in Greater Manchester and to move them into sustainable career paths with employers. A £3million pilot to help employers in Greater Manchester and surrounding areas targeting digital skills gaps through short training courses will also be made available.

A renewed focus on supporting enterprise and self-employment will include extension of funding for the British Bank’s Start Up Loans Programme to 2021 so it will continue to provide loans and mentoring to entrepreneurs, from 2019 anyone on Universal Credit who is self employed will be given a 12 month extended grace period giving them time to grow their business to a sustainable level and the announcement of an extension to New Enterprise Allowance contracts will provide support and mentoring for benefit claimants who are looking to start and develop their business. Also announced was £10 million in Greater Manchester , working with the Federation of Small Businesses to test suitable support most effective in increasing training levels for the self-employed.

Announcements on welfare under the Universal Credit transition continues focusing on increasing access to fair and affordable credit under the Affordable Credit Challenge Fund. The government will provide £2million to launch a challenge fund to promote technological solutions to support social and community lenders. Regulation will be simplified to make it easier to signpost tenants away from high cost credit.

The NHS can also anticipate an increased funding pot for mental health over the next 5 years up to £250 million a year by 2023 /24 which will include the provision of children’s and young people’s crisis teams in every part of the country, more community services, and comprehensive mental health support in every A&E by 2023. The Individual Placement Support Programme will help support those with mental illness to find and retain employment.