Builders merchants’ trade association the Builders Merchants Federation has written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, ahead of his Spring Statement to Parliament tomorrow (March 13th) to lobby for more flexibility in the rules governing the Apprenticeship Levy.
In its letter, the BMF urged Philip Hammond to use his Spring Statement to prepare for life after Brexit – and counteract predicted falls in employment levels and regional productivity.
BMF Chief Executive, John Newcomb, said: “Last week was National Apprenticeship Week. The BMF has been involved in the Apprenticeship Levy since his predecessor George Osborne announced it in his July 2015 Budget. As a direct consequence, we have established our own Apprenticeship Training Agency to make it easier for our SME members to take on new apprentices. Nearly 250 young men and women have begun – or will soon begin – a BMF Apprenticeship. However, employers struggle with the complexities of the scheme and we are asking the Chancellor for improvements”.
In his letter, Newcomb asks how unspent Levy contributions will be used. There is a considerable sum of Levy money that merchants and manufacturers have been obliged to pay, that remains untouched. The BMF wants ministers to reallocate this to businesses to enable them to hire more apprentices through the BMF’s Apprenticeship Training Agency.
Newcomb also reiterates the point that young trainees often find it difficult to afford travel costs. It is not uncommon for apprentices to spend more than half their wages on travel. The worry is they may pick an apprenticeship they can get to cheaply that may not be the correct choice for them. The BMF wants ministers to apply more flexibility with costings to ease travel costs.