Nearly half of firms have returned unspent apprenticeship levy funds, poll finds

A poll of more than 500 HR professionals, conducted by Survation on behalf of London First, has found 48 per cent had returned unspent apprenticeship levy funding compared to 52 per cent who have not.

The research, which also asked about employers’ opinions of the levy system, found that fewer than one in five (17 per cent) felt it was currently working well.

Experts say a more flexible system would increase investment in skills at a time when shortages are ‘blighting’ many sectors

Experts have renewed calls to reform the apprenticeship levy as a survey of employers has revealed nearly half returned unspent funds to the Treasury.

The levy system was introduced in 2017 to improve the provision of apprenticeships as an alternative to university. Employers with a payroll bill of more than £3m annually are required to pay 0.5 per cent of that bill into the scheme, which the government then tops up by 10 per cent.

Employers can use that fund to pay for accredited apprenticeship courses, and larger employers are also allowed to spend some of their funds on their supply chain. Funds that aren’t used by the employer within two years expire and are passed back to the government.