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“Shortage of skilled staff” could torpedo general election big spending plans

The big spending plans proposed by both Labour and the Conservatives could be thwarted by a lack of skilled staff, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

Reacting to today’s news that both Labour and the Tories want to turn on the spending taps after the election, the IFS have warned that their ideas might not be so easy to deliver.

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Labour has promised to spend an extra £55 billion per year on investment over the next five years, while Chancellor Sajid Javid has said the Tories would raise the cap on public investment to 3% of GDP.

However, the IFS have injected a dose of reality into the conversation – warning that there are “shortages in the number of suitably skilled construction workers” needed to deliver big investment projects, such as the ones proposed by the two big parties.

For context, the Tories are in favour of tightening immigration and setting stringent wage caps after Brexit, while Labour says it would try to negotiate a Brexit deal with the EU (though they have said they will try to keep freedom of movement).

Indeed, 165,000 UK construction workers are currently from the EU – 7% of the total workforce – while the industry needs to hire over 150,000 new workers by 2021 in order to keep up with current demand. 

It would be therefore be very interesting to hear how Johnson and Corbyn square their proposed Brexit policies, with their ambitious plans for future public investment.

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