The Local Government Association has said the government’s plans to boost apprenticeship will negatively impact on small council schools. The LGA’s objection focuses on the introduction of the apprentice levy, specifically in the way it will affect those schools that fall into its remit.
Under the plans for the levy, all employers with wage bills over £3m a year must pay 0.5% of that into the new apprenticeship levy. However, the LGA points out that council schools below that threshold must still pay as they come under the overall local authority wage bill, while small academies are exempt.
Given that, the LGA is calling for exemptions to be made for schools in order for them to safeguard their budgets that it describes as under pressure. Exemptions are currently granted to stand alone academies that don’t fall under local educational budgetary control.
“Proposals are discriminatory”
Richard Watts, chairman of the LGA’s Children and Young People Board, described the plans as “discriminatory”.
“It is no secret that many schools are struggling with their funding, yet once again, council-maintained schools are being dealt a poor hand compared to academies.”
“Clearly what really matters is making sure that all children get the education they deserve, regardless of school structures, so applying initiatives like the levy equally across all schools is only right.
“The government therefore needs to urgently revise the apprenticeship levy to make sure that all schools are on an equal footing.”
As for the government, Apprenticeship and Skills Minister Robert Halfon said of the row, “We expect these schools to have full access to funding for apprenticeship training and will support all employers, including schools and local authorities, in using levy funds to invest in quality apprenticeships.”