To ask the Secretary of State for Education, pursuant to the Answer of 8 July 2020 to Question 64954 on Nurses: Coronavirus, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of extending the deadline of the apprenticeship levy so that NHS trusts do not lose unused funds as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.
We currently have no plans to extend the expiry period for employers’ levy funds. From the point at which funds enter an employer’s account, they already have 24 months in which to spend the funds, and these funds only begin to expire on a rolling, month-by-month basis 24 months after they enter an employer’s account. Levy-paying employers can transfer up to 25% of their annual funds to help support apprenticeship starts in their supply chain or to meet local skills needs. We remain committed to improving the operation of the apprenticeship levy, and while we recognise the current challenges facing employers, we currently consider that this period is sufficient to give employers time to develop their apprenticeship programmes and encourage them to create new apprenticeship opportunities.
Employers’ levy funds are not the same as the department's ring-fenced apprenticeship budget. Any unspent funds are not lost but are used to support apprenticeships in smaller employers.
To help employers, including NHS trusts, offer new apprenticeships, they will be able to claim £1,500 for every apprentice they hire as a new employee from 1 August 2020 until 31 January 2021- rising to £2,000 if they hire a new apprentice under the age of 25. In addition, we have increased the number of reservations that small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) can now make through the apprenticeship service, from 3 to 10, enabling them to recruit more apprentices. Details can be found here https://www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/a-plan-for-jobs-2020.
The new payment means it’s a great time for employers to offer new apprenticeship opportunities and take advantage of existing flexibilities to train their apprentices in a way that suits their needs.