Britain's finance minister flags back-to-work incentives in budget

British Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt talks to a television crew outside the BBC headquarters in London

LONDON (Reuters) - Finance minister Jeremy Hunt will set out measures to boost Britain's workforce next week, by offering financial incentives in his budget for parents with young children, disabled people and others to rejoin the workforce.

Britain has a chronic labour shortage that is dragging on its economic performance. Foreign workers left the country en masse over Brexit, while hundreds of thousands of older people gave up their jobs during COVID-19.

It is the only one of the world's seven largest advanced economies whose gross national product remains smaller than before the pandemic.

The finance ministry said on Saturday that Hunt's fiscal plan, due on Wednesday, will focus on removing barriers that dissuade people of working age from getting jobs.

"I want this back-to-work budget to break down these barriers," Hunt said in a statement from the ministry on Saturday.

There are more than a million job vacancies in Britain, while one fifth of the working-age population is either out of a job or not seeking one, said the statement.

The new measures Hunt is expected to announce include the government paying childcare costs up front for low-income parents, rather than in arrears, and increasing such payments - making it easier for them to enter the workforce.

Hunt also plans to allow disabled people and those with long-term health conditions to work without removing their supplementary financial support.

Additional training places will also be made available to people over 50 to teach new skills in sectors like construction and technology and help them get jobs.

Also, in households with two adults on income support, both will now be obliged look for work rather than just one of them, as had been the case under some circumstances.

(Reporting by Sarah Young; editing by John Stonestreet)