SMEs voice concerns over apprenticeship reforms

The Autumn Statement has unveiled government plans to invest £40m into the UK apprenticeship system, creating 20,000 new apprenticeships in the next two years, giving companies control over training and allowing them to reclaim subsidies.

Small businesses, however, have concerns that the reforms could add to the red tape burden.

The Forum of Private Business (FPB), which represents 18,000 small firms, has called for a simple method of payment to make it easier for SMEs. FPB CEO Phil Orford said: “Designing this around the tax system is preferable as employers do not want to be put off from taking on apprentices because of a complex new system.”

Chris Jones, chief executive of City & Guilds Group, said: “There’s the assumption that employers have the time – and indeed the will – to cope with the additional bureaucracy these reforms will entail. Rather than incentivising employers, I fear they’ll be put off and decide it is simply not worth the hassle.”