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To ask the Secretary of State for Education, pursuant to the Answer of 21 May 2018 to Question 144910, on Apprentices: Taxation, if he will publish his Department's guidance on how unspent funds in apprenticeship service accounts will be used to support levy-paying employers.
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, pursuant to the Answer of 21 May 2018 to Question 144910, on Apprentices: Taxation, what plans his Department has to ensure that levy-paying employers will spend all the funds in their apprenticeship service accounts.
The Department for Education has a ring-fenced apprenticeship budget which has been set regardless of how much levy receipts are each year. This budget was set at £2.01 billion for the 2017-18 financial year and £2.23 billion for 2018/19. It is used to fund new apprenticeship starts in levy and non-levy paying employers and to cover the ongoing training costs of apprentices that are already in training.
Levy-paying employers have up to 24 months in which to spend the funds available to them, with the first levy funds starting to expire in May 2019. This allows sufficient time for employers to establish apprenticeship programmes, while incentivising behaviour to drive starts and manage the department’s spend.
Spending on the apprenticeship programme is demand led, and employers can choose which apprenticeships they offer, how many and when, and we do not anticipate that all employers who pay the levy will want to use all the funds in their accounts. Therefore, robust estimates of employers’ future spending and any underspends are not possible. We will publish details on aggregate apprenticeship spending in our departmental end-of-year accounts as part of our normal financial reporting cycle.
To help employers we have ongoing face-to-face support for over 1,000 of the largest levy-paying employers through our national account managers, and ongoing support via telephone for small and medium-sized enterprises to encourage them to invest their levy funds through registering for an apprenticeship service account.
We also encourage self-service support via comprehensive guidance on our web pages: