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Apprenticeship Levy — [Caroline Nokes in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 2:54 pm on 11th February 2020.

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Photo of Gerald Jones Gerald Jones Shadow Minister (Defence) 2:54 pm, 11th February 2020

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Ms Nokes, and I congratulate Richard Graham on having secured this debate. I will drill a little bit further into the issue raised by Liz Saville Roberts.

Apprenticeships are a devolved issue in Wales. Although I praise the Welsh Labour Government for doing what they can to make the levy work and to ensure that apprenticeships are delivered according to the needs of communities and of the Welsh economy, funding for apprenticeships and graduate training is an ongoing issue for Welsh police forces. The UK Government need to provide clarity and to resolve this issue, because for over two years Welsh police forces have been forced to use their own budgets to fund those apprenticeships.

Although training and apprenticeships are devolved to the Welsh Government, policing remains a reserved area. As such, if the Government apply their apprenticeship levy policy to Wales and to all employers with a wage bill of £3 million or more, including police forces, they must also commit to provide the funding for it, not just pass the buck and shirk their responsibilities. My constituency of Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney crosses two police force areas—namely, those of South Wales police and Gwent police. Gwent police have paid some £400,000 into the apprenticeship levy every year, while the figure for South Wales police is closer to £1 million. Collectively, the four Welsh police forces pay over £2 million a year into the levy, but they do not receive that money back from the UK Government.