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Game of Groans: Levy is coming, are you ready?

In his latest blog, Paddy Patterson of Maverish Ltd and founder of Oxfordshire Apprenticeships discusses two topical sagas...

It’s a totally gratuitous headline but two weeks ago I was eagerly awaiting two things; the new series of Game of Thrones and the detail on the Levy that I was told would be out on the 21st April. Both these things were long awaited and both you could say have become a right old saga.

And sure enough, we had our Levy guidance (click here to read it) and our GOT season opening and well, I don’t feel I learned too much more about where we’re going with either. And it’s rather frustrating. The Levy guidance seemed to bring a bit more detail and a few teasers without telling us the stuff we really wanted to know. Much like the other thing that I won’t mention any more.

So what’s followed has been a lot of grumbling and groaning and an increasing amount of anxiety and annoyance. Inevitably a number of people are now calling for a delay in the introduction of the Levy, with the CBI the latest to wade in with the suggestion.

I spoke recently at the Business in Oxford event at Said Business School and was asked the question that has been at the front of my mind for months now; “If only around 2% of businesses will actually have to pay the Levy, presumably they’ve been contacted and are aware of this?” Great question though I suspect the answer is no, not universally through someone such as HMRC. Though I suspect accountants and FDs will pick these things up through their usual routes.

So we now know employers will be able to create their Digital Apprenticeship Service (DAS) accounts from January 2017. The Levy will officially be introduced on 6 April 2017 but employers won’t actually see funds in their online account until late May 2017. Hmmm. 

Those funds will expire within 18 months and in the first year, employers will only be able to use funds for their own Apprentices. Moving funds to another employer is still on the drawing board but we should hear more in June 2016. And those funds can only be spent in England and for firms who also operate in the rest of the UK, a calculation will be done to work out how much that will be.  We still don’t know what the actual funding rates will be either. And we need to wait until June, October and December this year to get the rest of the picture. By which point I’ll most probably be grumbling about the wait for Game of Thrones Season 7.

And where are we locally? Do we know the potential impact on Oxfordshire businesses financially and in turn what that might mean for Apprenticeship starts? Will Levy payers hold off starting new Apprentices until the new system is in place so they can maximize their return on the new ‘tax’? Will we see a growing campaign for firms to be able to use levy funds to pay for existing training (through rebadged Apprenticeships) or just ‘other’ accredited training (much in the same way the existing Industry levies work in construction, for example).

What are you telling people? What are you being asked? How will it impact your role in employing/promoting/training Apprentices? Get in touch on tel: 01865 323477, email info@oxfordshireapprenticeships.co.uk or tweet us@OxonApprentice.

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