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It is a busy time for the chancellor Philip Hammond as the Spring Statement 2019 nears, but he does not stand in a position where he can think about ignoring the issues of the Apprenticeship Levy.  These are the thoughts of Jordan Marshall—who serves as the Policy Development Manager at the Association of IPSE (Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed).

It is vital for Mr. Hammond to take note of the fact that businesses are not happy with the offerings of the levy. They have cited its inflexibility and complexity as major concerns, while at the same time they mentioned its incompetence at fulfilling their training requirements.

There is some merit to the recent criticisms based on hard facts. As 2018 ended the government illustrated the fact that more than 80% businesses who paid this tax did not hire an apprentice. Moreover, those individuals who began with an apprenticeship—one year after the levy—were found to be falling.

The government did introduce some useful changes. In the supply chain industry, smaller businesses were allowed to receive levy funds from other businesses. While this must be appreciated, however, the government still needs to think about how the self-employed and contractors can upskill as well.

For self-employed individuals, training is especially a tough predicament when they fail to meet both ends. The idea of giving one’s resources and time for the learning of a fresh skill can be a daunting prospect, particularly for a single-person business. If a one-person business is faring well, even then it is difficult for them to allocate time for training because of the notion that the training hours are better utilised on searching for the prospective clients.

To solve this conundrum, those at the helm of affairs, should contemplate about offering a greater degree of flexibility to the recruitment agencies. This flexibility can include provision of subsidies in the training courses which can benefit the self-employed and contractors. The current dilemma is that while there are several agencies that can pay the levy; however, they primarily work with self-employed workers where there is no way for them to up-skill these workers through the Apprenticeship Levy.

According to our opinion, the government must resume the honing of their policy with the provision of enhanced flexibility to these agencies. The provision of subsidies can facilitate businesses to train their employees with an approach which does the trick for them.

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