Saturday 16 December 2017

UK firms slow hiring in run-up to EU vote

David Cameron and George Osborne at B&Q yesterday. Photo: PA
David Cameron and George Osborne at B&Q yesterday. Photo: PA

David Milliken

British businesses increased staff numbers in May at the slowest rate in eight months due to a lack of suitable candidates and worries about a June 23 referendum on European Union membership, recruiters said on Wednesday.

The Recruitment and Employment Confederation said growth in spending on temporary staff slowed, after spiking last month due to a big rise in the minimum wage, while starting salaries for permanent staff rose at the weakest rate since October 2013.

"UK businesses are now facing candidate shortages in nearly every sector of the economy ... Despite this, employers are showing uncertainty about hiring in the run-up to the EU referendum," REC chief executive Kevin Green said.

Official data showed that British firms created a net 44,000 jobs in the first quarter of this year, down from 195,000 in the last three months of 2015 but still taking the proportion of working-age people in jobs to a record high.

Green said that regardless of whether Britons voted to leave the EU later this month, it was important that a "sensible approach" was taken to migration.

"Sourcing workers from outside the UK is going to be an ongoing necessity if we are to continue seeing the British economy grow," he added.

Some sectors, such as hospitality, construction and horticulture, rely heavily on migrant labour.

But a goal of many Britons who want to leave the EU is to reduce the hundreds of thousands of immigrants from inside and outside the bloc who settle permanently in the UK each year.

Reuters

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