How will the Levy Work?
The Apprenticeship Levy is a charge being introduced by government to help fund their plans to deliver a step change in apprenticeship numbers and their quality. The levy is designed to put apprenticeship funding in the hands of employers and encourage them to invest in and create apprenticeships.
The levy will apply to all employers across all sectors in the UK, including local authorities. The rate will be set at 0.5% of an employers’ pay bill, collected monthly via Pay As You Earn (PAYE). All employers will have an allowance of £15,000, which means that the levy is applicable on pay bills over the first £3 million. All London boroughs qualify to pay the levy.
All employers will have access to the Digital Apprenticeship Service whether they have paid the levy or not and will be able to use it to manage the government funding available to them to pay for apprenticeship training. All Levy-paying employers will receive a 10% top-up to their digital accounts funded by government. All employers with a digital account will have 24 months to spend their funds, including top-ups, before they expire.
The levy will come into force from April 2017.
What can the Levy be Spent on?
The government has been very specific about what levy funds can and cannot be spent on. Funds can be used for:
- Apprenticeship training and assessment (with an approved training provider and assessment organisation up to its funding band maximum).
Funds cannot be used for:
- Statutory licenses to practice
- Travel and subsidiary costs
- Managerial costs
- Work placement programmes
- The costs of setting up an apprenticeship programme.
What are the opportunities for London?
Identifying skills gaps – The levy represents a big opportunity for employers to identify skills gaps in their organisation and use levy funds to help fill them.
Upskilling existing staff – The levy also represents an opportunity to provide training to existing staff members to improve their current skills or learn new ones.
Developing new apprenticeship standards if there are gaps – As the government makes the transition from apprenticeship frameworks to the new apprenticeship standards it is important that employers consider if the right standards are in place, whether there are any gaps in provision and how they can use the trailblazer programme to develop new ones.
Working with supply chains and other employers to encourage levy spending – There is no ring-fence in place for the share of the Levy that London generates, so any unspent levy funds will be recycled elsewhere in the system. It is important that boroughs use their leadership role and contacts with business to encourage them to spend their levy funds on recruiting apprentices and training existing staff before their funds expire and are reallocated elsewhere in the system.
Working with other London boroughs on developing new standards, delivering economies of scale, identifying common skills or jointly procuring training for more specialist roles.
What are the challenges for London?
London’s Area Cost Adjustment removed – The government has confirmed that they will scrap the Area Cost Adjustment for London (ACA). The ACA has previously applied across all adult skills provision, including 16-18 and 19+ apprenticeships to reflect that the cost of delivering an apprenticeship in London is higher than in other parts of the UK.
Impact on boroughs’ resources – London Councils has estimated that the Levy would have cost the boroughs £38m in 2014/15, inclusive of schools. There may also be a further impact on boroughs' resources through potential extra salary, admin and procurement costs.
Extra administrative burden – Requiring employers to find and part-pay for training represents an administrative burden that could be an additional barrier to SMEs.
High public sector target introduced – The government’s proposed public sector target would require London boroughs to deliver 4,674 apprenticeship starts per year – an increase of 577% on current levels.
Restrictions on working with supply chains – The government will not allow levy funds to be transferred during the first year of the Levy’s operation. From 2018, employers will only be allowed to transfer 10% of funds to another employer which is too small to make a substantive impact.
Rethinking recruitment policy - Boroughs may need to update their existing Workforce Development Strategies. As only 10% of levy funds can be transferred, employers who use ATAs to deliver the bulk of their apprenticeship starts will need to rethink their recruitment strategy.
More information on the Apprenticeship Levy
London Councils' Briefing for Boroughs on Apprenticeships
Summary of the Changes Announced in the FInal Funding Policy
Latest Member Briefing on the Apprenticeship Levy
Apprenticeship Levy Funding Proposals - London Councils Consultation response September 2016
Apprenticeship targets for public sector bodies - London Councils consultation response March 2016
Please contact Jamie Saddler, Policy and Projects Officer: Economy, Culture and Tourism for more information - [email protected].