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New law in place to allow businesses to hire agency workers to plug staffing gaps caused by strike action

A  new law coming into force, that is set to change now businesses can provide skilled agency workers to fill vital staffing gaps caused by industrial strike action. With industrial action across a range of sectors threatening to disrupt crucial public services, the Government has worked at speed to repeal trade union laws that restrict employment businesses from providing temporary agency workers to fill vacant positions caused by staff striking.

Businesses most affected by industrial action will be able to call upon skilled, temporary staff at short notice to plug essential positions. This will help to mitigate the disproportionate impact strike action can have both on the UK economy and society by allowing crucial services, that we all use on a daily basis, to continue functioning.

The change in the law will apply across all sectors, for example, in education where strike action can force parents to stay at home with their children rather than go to work.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said:- "In light of militant trade union action threatening to bring vital public services to a standstill, we have moved at speed to repeal these burdensome,1970's; style restrictions. From today, businesses exposed to disruption caused by strike action will be able to tap into skilled, temporary workers to provide the services that allow honest, hardworking people to get on with their lives. That's good news for our society and for our economy."

While this law change will provide greater flexibility to businesses, companies will still be required to abide by broader health and safety rules that keep employees and the public safe. In addition, it will be the responsibility of individual businesses to hire temporary workers with the correct and suitable skillset and/or qualifications to meet the obligations of the role.

Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps said:- "While next week's rail strikes will come too soon to benefit from this legislation, it's an important milestone reflecting the Government's determination to minimise the power of union bosses. For too long unions have been able to hold the country to ransom with the threat of industrial action but this vital reform means any future strikes will cause less disruption and allow hardworking people to continue with their day to day lives."

The Government has also changed the law to raise the maximum damages that courts can award against a union, when strike action has been found by the court to be unlawful. For the biggest unions, the maximum award will rise from £250,000 to £1 million.

The changes apply across England, Scotland and Wales.

Mayor Steve Rotheram unveils £4.1m:- 'tech accelerator' to grow businesses and create high quality jobs

MAYOR Steve Rotheram has unveiled a £4.1m plan to speed up the growth of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in Liverpool City Region's tech industries. The 'tech accelerator' is designed to create new high-quality jobs by providing intensive support, mentoring and investment for up to 60 start-up businesses over 5 years.

If approved at the Combined Authority meeting, the initiative will aim to give local businesses a reason to stay and grow in the City Region; while also attracting national and international start ups, mentors and investors.

The Mayor's ambition is to invest nearly 5% of the local economy on research and development (R&D) by 2030; nearly double the Government's UK target. Achieving this would add an estimated £41.7bn to the City Region's economy and create 44,000 jobs.

Steve Rotheram, Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said:- "SME's are the cornerstone of our economy, accounting for 99% of all businesses in the Liverpool City Region. They are fundamental to our present and future success, and I want to support those businesses operating in those future facing industries to expand and take their business to the next level. We want businesses to help us to create well-paid, secure jobs and training opportunities, attract investment and bring greater prosperity to our communities. They can also deliver a greater return on our investment while keeping more of the money we spend in the local economy, meaning that we get much more bang for our buck. We're already home to 1 of the country's most advanced tech clusters - and the appetite for their services is only going to get bigger as we become an increasingly technological society. I want to harness the expertise here in our Region and establish ourselves as a leader on the global stage. We can only do that by empowering our SME's to grow and succeed; and I'm hoping this investment will help to unleash their full potential."

This launch underlines the Mayor's wider determination to drive innovation in the Liverpool City Region and follows a series of investments and initiatives including:- LYVA Labs, the High Growth Innovation Fund and the Future Innovation Fund; totalling almost £8.5m.

Under the initiative, 5 accelerator programmes will run over 5 years, each supporting between 7 and 12 companies. Further information on how companies can apply for support will be published when the initiative, if approved, is up and running.

Using the Strategic Investment Fund (SIF) a not for profit company would be set up, overseen by a board and advisory panel, made up of volunteers from diverse backgrounds; as part of a wider effort to improve representation among the Region's businesses.

Working with the LCR Race Equality Programme, it will also ensure diversity among applicants by ensuring that at least 10% of the companies supported have founders who are from black, Asian and ethnic minority backgrounds.

Successful applicants will benefit from help to develop funding strategies and investor pitches, make introductions to investors and offer collaboration with finance initiatives such as LCR Angels, the LCR Seed Fund and Finance Hub.

Deputy Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region and Leader of Wirral Council, Councillor Janette Williamson said:- "If we are to realise our ambition in place to make Liverpool City Region a national and world leader in innovation then we need to help our local tech firms to succeed and to create a supportive and attractive environment for businesses looking to relocate. This tech accelerator offers tailored, practical support that will help small and medium-sized businesses to speed up their growth and ensure that they embed our net zero ambitions and diversity targets within their plans."


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