Apprenticeship Levy – Considerations for devolved administrations

This section is relevant for organisations working wholly or partly in Scotland, Wales and/or Northern Ireland. For more on Apprenticeship Levy spending in England, click here.

While the collection of the Levy is part of HMRC’s brief and is UK-wide, the distribution of levy funds to be spent on apprenticeships is classed as Skills funding, which is a devolved matter. This means that organisations operating exclusively in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland will not have access to the same apprenticeship service accounts as those in England. Rather, it will be up to the individual devolved Governments to decide how their proportion of the Levy funds (calculated via the Barnett Formula) will be spent.

Because Apprenticeship Levy funds will return to each devolved nation as part of their block grant, they will not be ring-fenced for spending on skills. Unless the relevant Government commits to spending that money on apprenticeships or to returning the funds to levy-paying organisations for that purpose, there is no reason for employers to see those funds returned to them – and the Levy will effectively operate as an employment tax.

The Scottish Government’s share of funding will support a range of employment measures including:

  • the delivery of 30,000 Modern Apprenticeships starts per year by 2020
  • the establishment of a new £10 million Workforce Development Fund to help employers up-skill and re-skill their workforce
  • increasing the number of Graduate Level and Foundation Apprenticeships in 2017-18
  • promoting partnerships between employers, local authorities and the third sector to tackle unemployment and under-representation in the labour market
  • the continued implementation of the Youth Employment Strategy and delivery of employment focused college provision for young people
  • skills support for priority sectors including digital, care and early years

The Welsh Government has launched a new Apprenticeship policy, which intends to support the delivery of its commitment to creating a minimum of 100,000 high quality apprentices in Wales over this Assembly term by focusing on four priority areas:

  • increasing the number of apprentices aged 16-19 by increasing the take-up of quality apprenticeships amongst school leavers
  • addressing skills shortages by developing apprenticeships particularly in growth and emerging sectors such as the ICT, Engineering, Construction and Financial and Professional Services
  • developing higher level skills by focussing on apprenticeships at level 4 and above where returns tend to be higher
  • developing skills pathways by integrating apprenticeships into the wider education system and making it easier for someone to enter into an apprenticeship from another learning route

The Northern Irish Executive is yet to set out exactly how it intends to use its share of the Levy funds.

For organisations working both in England and in one or more of the devolved nations, employers will have access to an apprenticeship service account, but will only receive funds for the proportion of their employees who live in England. These funds will also only be able to spent on apprenticeships in England. Consult the section on spending Apprenticeship Levy funds for more information.

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