How can local authorities spend their apprenticeship levy?
Local authorities in England employ over 400,000 people – from local councillors to teachers – so many local authorities have a very large wage bill. Out of the 343 local authorities in England, almost all of them pay the apprenticeship levy and have a designated pot of funding to spend on apprenticeship training. The problem is, many local authorities aren’t spending their levy. Their levy funds are ‘expiring’ after the 24-month deadline and millions of pounds of unspent funds are being sent back to central government every month.
It’s been such an issue that the Local Government Association (LGA) has called on the Government to change the rules – but to no avail. So local authorities only have one option – use it, or lose it.
So how does the apprenticeship levy work?
All employers with a wage bill over £3 million a year have to pay the apprenticeship levy. The levy is charged at 0.5% of your annual wage bill, minus a £15,000 allowance. The levy is collected by HMRC each month and transferred into your National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) account to spend on apprenticeship training.
Local authorities have 24 months to spend their levy funds on apprenticeship training. If they don’t, the funds expire and are sent back to central government to allocate to SMEs.
How can local authorities make the apprenticeship levy work for them?
Local authorities can use their levy funds to pay for any apprenticeship training – either to recruit new staff or upskill existing employees. There are hundreds of relevant apprenticeships available. As different local authorities work in different ways, you’ll have to find the right apprenticeship for your authority.
For example, if you’re the employer for a fire and rescue service or a school, work with them to identify how they can make use of your levy funds. They can train new teachers with a level 3 teaching assistant apprenticeship or upskill firefighters using the level 6 fire safety engineer degree apprenticeship.
If you’re looking to incorporate apprenticeships into your own offices, look at apprenticeships like business admin, team leadership or chartered town planner. There are literally hundreds of options available, so get creative!
The apprenticeship levy is a huge opportunity for local authorities. It may take a bit of planning, but embedding apprenticeships into your long-term recruitment planning will help fill skills gaps, benefit organisations under your control, support your local community and address budget restraints. Plus, it won’t cost you anymore that you’re already paying into the apprenticeship levy each month anyway.
To find out more about how the apprenticeship levy works for local authorities, download your step-by-step guide. It covers the 7 steps you should follow to create an apprenticeship strategy for your authority and make the most of your levy funds.
This article includes research and opinion sourced by OneFile at the time of publication. Things may have changed since then,
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