Apprenticeship Levy

Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy – in the House of Commons at 11:33 am on 7th June 2022.

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Photo of Luke Evans Luke Evans Conservative, Bosworth 11:33 am, 7th June 2022

What recent discussions he has had with representatives of businesses on the rules in respect of the Apprenticeship Levy.

Photo of Lee Rowley Lee Rowley Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy), Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury

The Secretary of State and the ministerial team regularly meet business representative organisations to discuss how Government can continue to support businesses and help them to grow. We regularly discuss the apprenticeship levy and are working closely with colleagues in the Department for Education to feed back the views of the business community.

Photo of Luke Evans Luke Evans Conservative, Bosworth

I was lucky enough to visit Forterra in my constituency near Desford, where it is building a £95 million brick factory. Forterra raised the apprenticeship levy because it is finding difficulties trying to get more people to come and work in the likes of the heavy goods vehicle sector. Part of the difficulty is the constraints around how the levy can be used. Will the Minister meet me to discuss how we can get rid of some of the red tape and be creative for those industries that are particularly struggling with the legislation and the restraints around the apprenticeship levy?

Photo of Lee Rowley Lee Rowley Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy), Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury

I congratulate my hon. Friend on speaking up for businesses in his area and on Forterra, which I understand from reading will be one of the largest brick factories in Europe. I would be very happy to meet him and I am grateful for any comments that he or other colleagues have about the apprenticeship levy.

Photo of Barry Sheerman Barry Sheerman Labour/Co-operative, Huddersfield

We are trying to find out this morning what the Secretary of State’s job is. It says “Industrial Strategy”, but how can we have an industrial strategy without skills? The Minister knows that something is seriously wrong with the apprenticeship levy—and what about kickstart? That has quietly died the death. It was the flagship training policy of this country. What the hell is going on on the Government Benches if they do not know what their job is?

Photo of Lee Rowley Lee Rowley Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy), Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury

We always welcome all contributions, particularly constructive ones such as that one. The apprenticeship levy has been in place since 2015: among the most recent statistics, more than 100,000 people have begun apprenticeships and under-25s make up a substantial proportion of the number of people taking up apprenticeships. While we will always look at how we can improve things, a substantial amount of progress has been made in recent years.