Apprenticeship levy ‘treated it as a tax’

A decrease in the number of apprenticeships by more than 150,000 could be due to the apprenticeship levy introduced by the government, say leading accounting firm Blick Rothenberg.

“The Government levy was introduced to stimulate the number of apprenticeships that were taken up but it appears to have had the reverse effect,” said Andrew Sanford, a partner at the firm.

He added: “It is disappointing that the majority of employers regard the apprenticeship levy as a tax rather than a means of providing accessibility for training the young. Urgent reform of the levy system is required in order for the government to reach its stated aims.”

Sanford said: “Between August 2017 and April 2018 there were 290,500 apprenticeship starts in England, 156,400 fewer than in the same period in 2016/17. The fall in the number of apprenticeships is at odds with the stated government aim of funding 3,000,000 placements by 2020.”

The apprenticeship levy is charged on all payrolls greater than £3 million at a rate of 0.5% on gross salaries.

Sanford added: “It is intended that the levy charged is then available for the employer to drawdown for available apprenticeship training. However, the level of take‑up, as evidenced by the statistics above, has not reached the levels anticipated by the government.”

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