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News Report Page 6 of 26
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CBI outlines labour market insights alongside urgent recommendations

LABOUR market supply problems could last for up to 2 years, or longer and will not be solved by the end of the Job Retention Scheme, Tony Danker, the CBI's Director General, has warned. In remarks following weeks of disruption to business operations and growing evidence of staffing shortages, the CBI's Director General has set out priorities for both business and Government to guard against labour constraints harming the UK's economic recovery (see attached briefing).  A lack of HGV drivers has dominated the headlines but the challenge extends well beyond to include other skilled professions, and along with resulting disruption to supply chains, has led to increasing calls for action in the run up to Christmas. Marrying skills policies to roles with the highest unfilled vacancies, adding greater flexibility to the Apprenticeship Levy and using the Government's own skill focused immigration levers to alleviate short term pressures are 3 things the UK Government can do now, the CBI says. Danker's clear message to ministers is that:- 'standing firm and waiting for shortages to solve themselves is not the way to run an economy. We need to simultaneously address short term economic needs and long term economic reform' he says.

The CBI's labour market intelligence builds on data from the business group's recent economic surveys and deep member consultation, which point to labour shortages as a growing constraint on business' plans to invest in the year ahead. Kick-starting business investment is essential for a sustainable economic recovery.  The CBI Director General is also urging businesses to play their part on long term productivity reforms by continuing to invest in training, automation and digital transformation, together with doing more to attract and retain staff from a diverse talent pool.  Introducing the CBI's labour market insights, Tony Danker, CBI Director General, said:- "Labour shortages are biting right across the economy. While the CBI and other economists still predict growth returning to pre-Pandemic levels later this year, furlough ending is not the panacea some people think will magically fill labour supply gaps. These shortages are already affecting business operations, and will have a negative impact on the UK's economic recovery. Other European countries are also experiencing staffing shortages as their economies bounce back. In the UK, many overseas workers left during the Pandemic affecting sectors including:- Hospitality, logistics and food processing. And new immigration rules make replacing those who left more complex. Building a more innovative economy; coupled with better training and education;- can sustainably improve business performance, wages and living standards. But transformation on this scale requires planning and takes time. The Government's ambition that the UK economy should become more high skilled and productive is right. But implying that this can be achieved overnight is simply wrong. And a refusal to deploy temporary and targeted interventions to enable economic recovery is self defeating. The CBI has heard from companies actively cutting capacity because they can't meet demand, like the hoteliers limiting the number of bookable rooms because they don't have enough housekeeping staff and can't get linen laundered. Meanwhile some restaurant owners have had to choose between lunchtime and evening services when trying to make the most of summer. It's also visible to consumers when lead in times for purchases like kitchens or furniture double. Let's be clear; employers back existing Government schemes to get people back into work. And businesses are already spending significant amounts on training, but that takes time to yield results, and some members suggest it could take 2 years rather than a couple of months for labour shortages to be fully eliminated. Using existing levers at the UK's control; like placing drivers, welders, butchers and bricklayers on the shortage occupation list; could make a real difference. The Government promised an immigration system that would focus on the skills we need rather than unrestrained access to overseas labour. Yet here we have obvious and short term skilled need but a system that can't seem to respond. Great economies like great businesses can walk and chew gum. We need short term fixes to spur recovery and long term reforms to change our economic model."

Liverpool City Region's bus services is set for shake up!

BOLD plans to deliver radical improvements in bus services across the Liverpool City Region are being finalised by the Region's Combined Authority. The Bus Services Improvement Plan (BSIP) will be a blueprint for delivering improvements designed to encourage more people to travel by bus. The plan is being produced with input from bus operators and local authorities in response to the Government's National Bus Strategy, with the Region bidding for a share of ₤3 billion of national funding. Building on the existing LCR Vision for Bus, it will drive ambitious plans to provide services that are more frequent, reliable, and affordable while making it easier for passengers to understand and use. Key areas for investment include:- frequency improvements, fare reductions, zero emission vehicles and bus lanes. Alongside work already taking place to reform bus services across the Region, with franchising identified as the Combined Authority's 'emerging lead option,' the BSIP will help deliver big improvements to bus journeys in all parts of the Region. Improving bus services is a vital part of Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram's ambition for a London style transport system, as 82% of public transport journeys in the Region are taken by bus. Under Mayor Rotheram's plans, getting around the Region will be quick, cheap and reliable.

Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram said:- "Good public transport is vital for connecting people with each other and with opportunity, with people in our Region overwhelmingly relying on the bus to get about. Thanks to the failed deregulation of the 1980s, too many bus services don't work for the people who use them. I'm determined to fix that. Getting around our Region should be quick, cheap and reliable; like it is in London. If it's good enough for the capital, then it's more than good enough for people in our Region."

The BSIP will include the 4 key areas of improvement that were agreed as part of the LCR Vision for Bus in July 2019 and shaped by City Region residents and businesses through the Big Bus Debate:-

Punctuality and reliability of bus services.

Ticketing and the cost of travel.

Network design (hours of operation, service frequencies, network coverage and integration)

Onboard experience.

A customer charter is also being developed, which will set out the standards passengers should expect when travelling by bus.

The outline approach for the BSIP will go before the Combined Authority's Transport Committee on Thursday, 16 September followed by the Combined Authority on:- Friday, 24 September 2021. The final BSIP will be submitted to the Department for Transport by 31 October 2021.

Peel Ports' letter:- "a PR disaster" and an "insult" claims campaign group

THE Save Rimrose Valley campaign has branded an open letter from Peel Ports' an insult to the intelligence of those living in communities next to the Port of Liverpool and a:- "PR disaster." The letter was written in response to the campaign's recent calls for Peel Ports to withdraw their support for National Highways' A5036 Port of Liverpool Access Road project. They asked the port's operators to push for sustainable solutions to the movement of freight in and out of the port instead. It was hand delivered as part of the campaign's latest high profile action. Public and political opposition to the Government's Port of Liverpool Access Road continues to grow with a huge turnout to the campaign's rally and march, including:- Sefton Councillors and MPs Peter Dowd and Bill Esterson. However, Peel Ports' CEO, Mark Whitworth, refuted the campaign's claim that his company is behind the road proposal, writing:- "I cannot stress strongly enough that your ongoing attempt to paint our organisation as the main driver behind this project is misplaced and misleading."

Stuart Bennett of the Save Rimrose Valley campaign responded, saying:- "Peel Ports' letter is not only an insult to the intelligence of local people; it is a PR disaster. They refer to National Highways' Port of Liverpool Access Scheme as the 'Sefton Relief Road' in a frankly embarrassing attempt to deflect attention away from their major stake in the project. They deny being the driving force behind the road proposal yet spend 5 pages telling us exactly why they believe it is needed. It would be laughable if the implications for our communities weren't so serious. Perhaps most embarrassingly of all, their statements contradict emails from their own company obtained via Freedom of Information Requests which reveal that they 'worked tirelessly' to secure Government funding for the project and even offered support to National Highways during Sefton Council's legal challenge against the scheme. If this doesn't demonstrate their level of influence, we don't know what does? Is it right and proper that a privately owned company with a direct interest in a publicly funded project should do either of these things? People will see Peel Ports' letter for exactly what it is; smoke and mirrors from a company that is completely detached from the reality of those living in the shadows of the port's cranes. A company that stands to benefit the most from this project. Tellingly, health and wellbeing aren't mentioned once in their reply and they seemingly dismiss Sefton Council's ongoing efforts to find a better solution for all parties. They have made their position quite clear. Thankfully, we and our supporters did the same at our recent demonstration. People have had enough of Peel Ports' indifference towards our health and our environment. Our campaign will continue until this road is stopped and the port is made accountable for its actions."

The next planning stage for the road building project is a consultation on the route in spring 2022. Save Rimrose Valley will be calling on the public to register their objections at this time and to reject the road proposal outright.

Link to letter from Save Rimrose Valley / Rimrose Valley Friends to Peel Ports:- SaveRimRoseValley.Org/Post/Our-Letter-To-Peel-Ports.

Link to open letter from Peel Ports to Save Rimrose Valley/Rimrose Valley Friends:- SaveRimroseValley.Org/Post/An-Open-Letter-Peel-Ports-Response.


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