The Apprenticeship Levy is part of the government’s plan to increase the quantity and quality of Apprenticeships. The Levy is a tax which aims to fund new Apprenticeships in England.
The Levy came into effect in April 2017.
All UK employers who have a total employee pay bill above £3m a year pay the Levy. This includes public and private sector, charities and educational providers such as academy groups and universities. The Levy rate was set at 0.5% of your pay bill in the November 2015 Comprehensive Spending Review.
Your ‘pay bill’ is your total employee earnings subject to Class 1 secondary NICs. Employers get a £15,000 fixed annual allowance to offset against the Levy payment. Employers who operate multiple payrolls will only be able to claim one allowance for the Levy.
An example: if you have a £3m pay bill, you’d have a levy bill of £15,000 (at 0.5% of employer pay bill). The allowance is offset against this, so your Levy payment is £0.00.
Here are some examples of how much employers may pay for the Levy:
Payments will be collected monthly by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) through Pay as You Earn (PAYE), alongside tax and National Insurance.
There are the same time limits, penalties and appeal procedures as for income tax.
The money will be collected by HMRC and for Apprenticeship training in England will be accessed via a new Digital Apprenticeship Service (DAS) account.
You will be able to use this to pay for Apprenticeship training. On your DAS account you’ll be able to see training provider or providers you want to deliver the training, choose appropriate Apprenticeship training courses and find candidates for your programmes.
In England, you’ll need to register your details online, along with the details of your Apprentice. You’ll be able to see how much can be drawn down for each Apprentice in the form of the voucher. You can then use these vouchers to spend on training with registered training organisations.
You will not be able to spend an unlimited amount of money on a single Apprentice. Funding caps will limit the amount of Levy funds you can spend on training for an individual Apprentice. The cap will vary according to the level and type of Apprenticeship. For example, more expensive, higher quality training will have a higher cap.
You can spend your Levy funds on Apprenticeship training for either existing staff or new recruits as long as the training meets an approved standard or framework and the individual meets the Apprentice eligibility criteria.
A range of Apprenticeship training programmes can be funded. They must be provided to an approved Apprenticeship standard. Read the government’s full list of Apprenticeship standards.
Funds can only be used towards the costs of Apprenticeship training. They cannot be used on other associated costs such as Apprentice wages, travel and subsidiary costs or the costs of setting up an Apprenticeship programme.
When an Apprenticeship has started, monthly payments will be automatically taken from your digital account and sent to the training provider. This spreads the cost over the lifetime of the Apprenticeship. You will see funds entering your digital account each month as you pay the Levy, and funds leaving the account regularly each month as you pay for training.
You can buy in from a provider or deliver the training yourselves, but the training must be delivered by an approved provider. If you want to “DIY”, your organisation needs to register as an approved provider and will be subject to Skills Funding Agency (SFA) quality arrangements and Ofsted inspection.
In the first year of the Levy, you will only be able to pay for Apprenticeship training of your own employees. The government is still assessing the options of some employers directing levy funds to other organisations and will provide further information on this in June 2016.
Employers in England who pay the Levy will get a 10% top-up to their digital accounts. This means every £1 will be increased to £1.10.
Funds will expire 18 months after they enter your digital account unless you spend them on Apprenticeship training. Money is spent when it leaves your digital account as a payment to a training provider.
There are two circumstances where Levy-paying employers are likely to have to contribute more:
The Levy is UK-wide, so contributions are based on the pay bill for all UK employees. The Government works with the Devolved Administrations to ensure it works simply and fairly for employers wherever they are in the UK.
For your operations in England, the government use data about the home address of your employees to work out what proportion of your pay bill is paid to employees living in England.
In England, you’ll be able to access the new online Digital Apprenticeship System (DAS). In the other nations we don’t know yet. In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, the devolved administrations will decide how the money is spent. Confirmation on this is expected later in 2016.
We understand Apprenticeships which start before the first Levy payment is taken (April 2017) will continue to be funded for their full duration under the current model. Apprenticeship funding is provided through the Skills Finding Agency (SFA), and the size of the contribution varies depending on the sector and the age of the Apprentice.
Funding is available for public and private sector employers. The training contribution is paid to the organisation which trains the Apprentice. If you are a small business, this will be a training provider. Large employers with a direct training contract can receive training funding themselves or appoint a training provider to deliver training on their behalf.
If your organisation has a pay bill less than £3m, it will not have to pay the Levy. In England, organisations will still be able to access government support for Apprenticeships through the National Apprenticeship Service.