Devolved nations seek assurance over apprenticeship levy

Ministers from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have urged the government to provide more detail on the planned apprenticeship levy.

In a letter to skills minister Nick Boles, the representatives from the devolved nations expressed concerns about the proposals, which will see employers with a wage bill of £3 million or more taxed at 0.5 per cent of the salary outlay.

The letter came from Scotland’s cabinet secretary for fair work, skills and training, Roseanna Cunningham, Wales’s deputy minister for skills and technology, Julie James, and Northern Ireland’s minister for employment and learning, Stephen Farry.

 

A fair slice of the pie

They raised concerns that the levy – which is expected to raise £3 million a year to fund three million apprenticeships – will undermine each nation’s own apprenticeship policies. In addition, they questioned whether the money raised would be fairly and proportionately split between the countries.

The letter also called for greater clarity about the content and timeframes of the legislation.

Cunningham commented that the apprenticeship levy “encroaches on our devolved responsibilities and is causing concern for employers”.

“The UK government has no control over how our administrations provide apprenticeships and to imply otherwise by collecting what amounts to an employment tax is misleading for any employer with operations outside England,” she said.

James added that the levy “is an unwelcome new tax burden for Welsh employers, and means Welsh public services will have to pay money back to the [UK] Exchequer when they are already under pressure”.

Farry said the proposed levy “will be a further tax burden on large businesses and this could impact negatively on the UK’s and Northern Ireland’s ability to compete globally and to attract new businesses”.