Funding support

Your funding options

The information below details all you need to know about the potential apprenticeship funding routes available to you as an employer.

We can also help you with access to funding – contact us to discuss your requirements.

What's an apprenticeship levy?

The apprenticeship levy was introduced in April 2017 as part of the government’s commitment to developing vocational skills and increasing the quantity and quality of apprenticeships.

The levy on UK employers to fund new apprenticeships is only payable by companies with an annual pay bill over £3 million. It’s charged at a rate of 0.5% of the pay bill (a minimum of £15,000). Each employer receives an allowance of £15,000 to offset against their levy payment.

In England, the government tops up an employer’s levy with an extra 10% which is paid directly to the employer’s apprenticeship account. This can only be used towards the training and assessment of the apprentices and isn’t for apprentice wages or travel costs.

How do I calculate my annual pay bill?

Your annual pay bill is all your payments to employees that are subject to employer Class 1 secondary National Insurance contributions, such as wages, bonuses and commissions. You must include payments to:

  • All employees earning below the Lower Earnings Limit and the Secondary Threshold
  • Employees under the age of 21
  • Apprentices under the age of 25

Your pay bill doesn’t include earnings:

  • Of employees under the age of 16
  • Of employees who aren’t subject to UK National Insurance contributions legislation
  • On which Class 1A National Insurance contributions are payable, such as benefits in kind
Is there funding available if I’m not a levy paying employer?

If you’re not a levy paying employer, the government will fund at least 95% of the apprenticeship training and assessment costs. You’ll be asked to fund 5% cash contribution to the cost, paid directly to the training provider.

You’re also able to receive a transfer of funds from a levy paying company, who may not be able to spend their levy allocation. They can transfer up to 25% of their levy funds to another employer.

We can also help you access transfer funding. Contact us to find out how.

Can I take on more apprentices than my apprenticeship levy will cover?

Yes you can, there isn’t a limit. You’ll be required to fund 5% of the training and assessment costs and the government will cover the remaining 95%.

Is there other funding support available?

Additional payments and help are available to help cover the costs of training a 16-18 year old apprentice, or an apprentice aged 19-24 who has previously been in care or has a Local Authority Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP).

  • You’re not required to pay national insurance contributions for apprentices under the age of 25, on earnings below the higher tax rate of £827 a week (£43,000 a year)
  • £1,000 is payable to you and the training provider, when training a 16-18 year old
  • £1,000 is payable to you and the training provider, when training a 19-24 year old who has previously been in care or who has a local authority education, health and care plan

As an employer you’re also eligible to receive an additional incentive payment of £2,000, making a total of £3,000 for each new apprentice you recruit. More information can be found in ‘Am I entitled to incentive payments?’

Am I entitled to incentive payments?

As a company, you’re eligible for an incentive payment if your employees are in England and you recruit an apprentice between 1 August 2020 and 31 March 2021. Provided you meet the eligibility criteria, there’s no limit on the number of payments you can apply for.

The two levels of incentive payments are based on age:

  • £2,000 for an apprentice aged 16-24
  • £1,500 for an apprentice aged 25 or over

To be eligible, your apprentice must:

  • Be a new employee to the business
  • Have a contract of employment with a start date between 1 August 2020 and 31 March 2021 (inclusive)
  • Not have been employed by the business within the six months prior to the contract start date

You can claim your incentive payment through your apprenticeship account. You’ll be paid in two equal instalments, provided the apprentice is still with you on days 90 and 365. If you don’t already have one, you can start an apprenticeship account here.

How do I access my funds if I’m a levy payer and what can I spend them on?

You access your funds through the online apprenticeship service. The funds can only be used to pay for apprenticeship training for your employees.

Will I have access to my levy funds indefinitely?

No, there’s a time limit. You must spend the levy funds that you’ve paid within 24 months of paying them into your apprenticeship service account.

What happens to my unused levy funds?

You have 24 months to use your funds once they enter your apprenticeship service account. After this point, your funds will expire. Any unspent levy funds within each financial year are used to support existing apprentices to complete their training, pay for apprenticeship training for smaller employers and additional payments to support apprentices.

Can I transfer my unused levy funds to another employer?

Yes, you can. If you’re unlikely to spend your levy allocation, you can transfer up to 25% to another employer, such as a company in your supply chain. The company receiving the transferred funds will also be eligible to receive incentive payments. Read more about transfer of levy funds.