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Apprenticeship Levy and Reforms

Apprenticeship Reforms and Key Information for Employers

Key information on the Apprenticeship Levy and reforms are below, All of the WTPN providers that deliver Apprenticeships can deliver in depth information to your organisation and  help you navigate the Levy and reforms.


Apprenticeships benefit employers and individuals, and by boosting the skills of the workforce they help to improve economic productivity. The apprenticeship reforms will support an increase in the quality and quantity of apprenticeships so that more individuals have the chance to pursue a successful career whether this is their first step on the employment ladder or progression within a current employer or sector.

The reforms give employers more control over designing apprenticeships (standards), choosing apprenticeships (digital apprenticeship service) and paying for apprenticeship training (levy and funding reforms).

The Levy

The government will double the annual level of apprenticeship spending between 2010-11 and 2019-20 to £2.5bn, which will be funded by the new apprenticeship levy. The levy will be paid by employers with a pay bill of over £3m from April 2017, less than 1.3% of employers in the UK.

Employers with a paybill over £3m, paying the levy

You will report and pay your levy to HMRC through the PAYE process.


Levy rate and allowance

Employers with an annual pay bill of more than £3 million will need to spend 0.5% of their total pay bill on the apprenticeship levy.

However, the Govt are  introducing a ‘levy allowance’ of £15,000 per year. This means that the total amount you need to spend is 0.5% of your pay bill, minus £15,000.

Calculating what you have to pay

To calculate how much levy you will pay, follow these steps:

1) Work out what your total pay bill is.

Your pay bill is made up of the total amount of your employees’ earnings that are subject to Class 1 National Insurance contributions. Employees’ earnings include any money they make from employment, such as:

  • wages

  • bonuses

  • commissions

  • pension contributions


The Govt will not charge the levy on other payments to employees, such as benefits in kind.

2) Work out what 0.5% of your total pay bill is.

3) Subtract the £15,000 allowance.


An employer with an annual pay bill of £5,000,000 will need to spend £10,000 on the levy:

  • levy sum: 0.5% x £5,000,000 = £25,000

  • subtracting levy allowance: £25,000 - £15,000 = £10,000 annual levy payment


Use the indicative online tool for employers to estimate your levy contribution, begin to plan your training requirements, and estimate your financial spending.

More in depth information on the Levy is here, or to speak to a WTPN member organisation please contact us below or view our Apprenticeship delivery organisations here.

The new apprenticeship standards

The new standards put employers in control of designing apprenticeships, so people are equipped with the skills that meet

the needs of their organisation.


The reforms are:

  • replacing the existing frameworks with short, simple, accessible apprenticeship standards describing the skills and knowledge that an individual needs to be fully competent in an occupation; and written by employers in a language they understand.

  • improving the quality of apprenticeships through higher expectations of English and maths, more rigorous testing to ensure the apprentice is fully competent and raising aspirations for apprentices by introducing grading at the end of the apprenticeship.

  • giving employers control of the funding so that Apprenticeship training providers become more responsive to employer needs.

Over 200 Trailblazers involving more than 1,400 employers with 260 standards have already been published (of which over 70 are higher and Degree apprenticeships) and more than 180 new standards are being developed.


The new apprenticeships are in a broad range of sectors from nuclear to fashion, law, banking and defence. There have been 4,200 starts on new standards in occupations such as software developer and aerospace engineer. The first apprenticeship starts on the new standards began in September 2014.


Guidance for employers on the standards development process as well as a list of approved standards and those in development are available at GOV.UK, ‘apprenticeship standards’.


The digital apprenticeship service

All employers in England have access to a new, easy to use digital apprenticeship service to help them manage their apprenticeship programme functions for all employers Through Estimate my apprenticeship funding, employers can calculate whether they will pay the levy or not, and what funds they will have to spend on apprenticeships.


It also shows how much the government will contribute towards the cost of training.


Find apprenticeship training gives employers easy to digest information on the choices available to them. Employers can search for and find an appropriate standard or framework, a quality assured training provider, and compare one provider with another.


Through Recruit an apprentice, training providers can post vacancies for apprenticeships and traineeships on behalf of employers. This will be opened up to employers at a later date.


For levy paying employers

In addition to the functions available to all employers, from May 2017 levy paying employers will be able to access funding for

apprenticeships through their digital account and

  • negotiate and pay for apprenticeship training and assessment

  • manage their funding and apprentices, view their account balance and plan their spending

  • stop or pause payments (for example,if their apprentice stops their training, takes a break from training or the employer hasn’t received the service agreed with the provider).


To access their funding, levy paying employers will need to set up an account on the digital apprenticeship service from January2017

using their Government Gateway ID, PAYE scheme details and Companies House number or equivalent, which company payroll teams should have.


For non-levy paying employers

By 2020, all employers will be able to use the digital apprenticeship service to pay for training and assessment for apprenticeships. Until then, non-levy paying employers will continue to negotiate and agree their apprenticeship programme with their chosen training provider.

90% of non-levy paying employers’ apprenticeship training and assessment costs in England will be paid for by the government.

The government will ask these employers to make a 10% contribution to the cost, paid directly to the provider, and the Government covers the rest. This cost will be spread over the lifetime of the apprenticeship.


The government is offering additional support to organisations with fewer than 50 employees by paying 100% of training and assessment costs for their apprentices aged16 to 18 and for those aged 19 to 24 formerly in care or with a local authority education, health and care plan

Extra incentive to employ 16-18yr olds

When employers take on a 16 to 18 year old on an apprenticeship framework or standard, they will receive £1,000 to help meet the extra costs associated with this. This will be paid to employers in two equal instalments at 3 months and 12 months.  Initially, these payments will be made to employers via their training provider, who will pass the money on. These payments will come direct from the government and will not be deducted from an employer’s digital account.   Over time, the Govt intend to move to a system where the employer receives this payment directly from the government.

Members of the WTPN can service almost any Apprenticeship need, and through collaboration, work together to service the needs of a larger levy paying employer.

If you are a training provider and wish to join and collaborate with other network members, please get in touch below.

Get in touch

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If you would like to be contacted to discuss the levy and reforms and how they might impact your organisation: 
please complete the enquiry form and we will get back to you shortly.

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