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Today’s headlines

28 April 2016

OECD ‘Brexit tax’ report sparks EU row

A British exit from the European Union would result in slower economic growth and be the equivalent of imposing a “Brexit tax” on UK workers, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). In its ‘Economic Consequences of Brexit’ report, the OECD said Britain’s economy post-Brexit would be 3% smaller by 2020 than it would be if it stayed in the EU, equivalent to £2,200 per household, rising to a 5% hit by 2030, similar to an estimate made by the Treasury last week. The global economic think-tank’s secretary general Angel Gurria said there was “no reason” why the UK would get “sweeter” trade or investment deals outside the bloc. UKip leader Nigel Farage, dismissed the report and OECD as an organisation “stuffed full of overpaid people who failed in politics mostly.” He added: “The professor of economics at Cardiff University, Patrick Minford, said very clearly that outside the European Union the average British family would be £40 a week better off.” More info.

CBI chief urges “radical rethink” on apprentice training levy

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has called for a “radical rethink” of the government’s apprenticeship levy, which is due to be launched next April. As announced in the last year’s Autumn Statement, businesses with a payroll of more than £3m will be subject to 0.5% levy on their payroll, which employers can offset to fund apprenticeship training. Carolyn Fairbairn, director-general of the CBI, will warn in a speech on Thursday that there a large number of unanswered questions” and risks associated with implementing a “half-finished system”. Ms Fairbairn will stress that the IT system underpinning the management of the levy must be fully functioning and ready to support the delivering of apprenticeship training. She will also raise concerns that the Institute for Apprenticeships is not up and running yet, and therefore currently not taking a lead role or setting standards. In response, Skills Minister Nick Boles said: “We will also be working with businesses in the coming months on the development of the independent, employer-led IfA that will ensure employers are at the heart of driving up the quality of apprenticeship training.” More info.

David Cameron joins forces with former trade union boss against Brexit

The Prime Minister and Brendan Barber, former general secretary of the Trades Union Congress, have co-written an op-ed piece in the Guardian newspaper arguing Britain faces a “triple threat” to jobs, wages and prices if it quits the bloc. The unlikely partnership between Mr Cameron and Mr Barber comes at a time when the trade unions and government are locked in bitter battle over the trade union bill. In the article, they state that “very special” circumstances brought the two together, adding that they were “united in our conviction that Britain — and Britain’s workers — will be better off in a reformed Europe than out on our own”. The pair claimed equal pay for women, paid holidays, maternity rights and much more could all be at risk if the UK chooses to exit the EU. Meanwhile, Employment Minister Priti Patel is to make a speech today in which she will argue that firms are hampered by EU red tape and an exit will give them the “freedom to proposer”. More info.


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