1. What is the levy and when does it come into force?
The apprenticeship levy was introduced in April 2017 and requires all employers with an annual pay bill of more than £3 million to pay into the levy at a rate of 0.5%. This is paid to HMRC through the PAYE system. Levied employers are able to access their levy funds through an online apprenticeship account to pay approved providers for the delivery of apprenticeship training and assessment. Each organisation in scope for the levy has just one online account for all levy contributions.
2. What can the levy be spent on?
The levy funds can only be spent on apprenticeship training and assessment against an approved framework or standard delivered by an approved training provider or assessment organisation up to the funding band maximum for that apprenticeship.
Levy funds cannot be used on other costs associated with recruitment or development of an apprentice. Nor can it be spend on other training that is not an apprenticeship.
3. What do we mean by the term apprenticeship?
There are rules governing what an apprenticeship is. The main ones are:
4. How can I access the online levy account?
The County Council has an apprenticeship team within Hampshire Futures, lead by Phillip Walker. His team comprises Chris Hansford and Jill Speirs who will work with all schools to complete the necessary checks that will ensure that the apprenticeships you wish to offer meet the funding criteria and can be funded from the levy.
5. Is there a time limit on using levy funds?
Funds held within the levy account will expire 24 months after they enter the online account unless they are spent on apprenticeship training and assessment with a training provider. Whenever a payment is taken from the digital account, the service automatically uses the funds that entered the account first.
6. What apprenticeships are available in the school sector?
There are many apprenticeships which cover roles in schools. These range from Level 2 (GCSE equivalent) to Level 7 (post-graduate degree level). Existing apprenticeship frameworks are also available but these are gradually being replaced by apprenticeship standards which are developed by employer groups called Trailblazers. Frameworks can be funded through the levy until they are replaced by new Standards. Some of the relevant frameworks and standards include:
7. Does the levy apply to Foundation and Voluntary Aided Schools?
Foundation Schools and Voluntary Aided Schools generally employ their staff in the same way as academies, i.e. the governing body is considered to be the employer for the purposes of Class 1 secondary National Insurance Contributions. Therefore they will accrue and pay levy liability based on their own pay bill.
For Education Centres, Voluntary Controlled, and Community schools where Hampshire County Council is the employer the County Council will pay the levy and re-charge this to each school.
8. Who are the local providers and can anyone be an apprenticeship provider?
Hampshire Futures, part of Hampshire County Council's Children's Services department (Education & Inclusion), has recently been approved by government as an employer-provider. This allows us to directly deliver apprenticeships to any employees, both corporate and in Hampshire maintained schools, and fund that delivery from our own online Apprenticeship Account. Consequently, we will be developing our apprenticeship offer to schools in the coming weeks and months.
In addition, Hampshire Futures will be establishing an apprenticeship provider framework. This will sit alongside the direct delivery offer and provide access to approved apprenticeship providers who will be able to be paid from our online levy account. We will provide further updates on the commissioning process and availability of provision in due course.
9. Can I still take on an apprentice even if as a foundation, aided or academy school, I don’t pay the levy?
Employers who are below the threshold required to pay the levy and want to purchase apprenticeship training from a provider will be able to access government support towards the cost of apprenticeship training and assessment. The government will pay 90% of the costs of training and assessment and the employer will be responsible for paying 10% of the costs. If eligible, other incentives may also apply. Remember, only approved frameworks and standards delivered by a provider on the official register will qualify for such funding subsidies.
10. Does the public sector target apply to schools?
Government have set a target for all public sector bodies to assist with the desire to increase the quantity and quality of apprenticeships.
Public sector employers with over 250 employees have a target of 2.3% of their headcount to be apprentices in the period between April 2017 and March 2021, with first publication of data due in September 2018. This will include both new starters and existing employees who start an apprenticeship.
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