The Apprenticeship Levy Explained – Here’s All You Need to Know

The Apprenticeship Levy came into force in April amid the confusion that often surrounds new Government initiatives. Some businesses see the levy as a form of tax on their provision of employment and while they complain about the unfair burden, fail to realise that they too can benefit from the scheme.

What is the UK Apprenticeship Levy?

The apprenticeship levy came into effect in April 2017; it is a mandatory tax which is paid directly to HMRC.

What is the purpose of the UK Apprenticeship Levy?

The government has an objective to boost UK productivity growth by investing in people.  As a result the government is committed to increasing vocational skills through the delivery of quality apprenticeships.

The levy will contribute to the delivery of new apprenticeships and quality training with employers being the central focus.  Employers that demonstrate a commitment to training through apprenticeships will be able to get more out more than they invest through increasing the number of apprentices.

What will the UK apprenticeship levy cost my business? Which companies must pay the apprenticeship levy? How does the levy work?

An employer with an annual wage bill exceeding £3m must pay a levy equivalent to 0.5% of the excess. For instance, a wage bill of £4m will result in a levy of £5,000 and an allowance of £15,000 to spend on apprenticeships. This allowance is topped up by 10% by the Government and held in a Digital Apprenticeship Service account for a maximum of 24 months. From the moment it enters your Business Digital Account the clock is ticking, after 24 months any unused funds is returned to the government for distribution.

Our wage threshold is less than £3m, what happens?

An employer with an annual wage bill below the threshold will not pay the levy and won’t initially have to use the digital service. From May 2017, they can use the National Apprenticeship Service to find approved training and assessment suppliers. The government will pay 90% of the costs with the employer contributing just 10%. For instance, an Apprenticeship fee of £9000 will cost the employer just £900.

All sizes of employer will be able to select an apprenticeship standard, choose training providers and assessors, and offer apprenticeship opportunities.

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Who can the Apprenticeship Levy money be spent on?

The money can be spent a wide range of individuals from new recruits, trainees and existing employees.  Anyone who has a requirement to increase skills for their role.  There are no age or status restrictions, so money can be invested in those from new trainees through to director level.

Even those who have existing degrees or professional qualifications can be included.  Many apprenticeships today include professional qualifications such as AAT, CIPS, CIMA, APM and more so there is never a better time to invest, there are many apprenticeship to choose from for all areas of your business.

Is the apprenticeship levy working?

Since the introduction of the levy there has been more money available than ever before for organisations to spend on apprenticeship training which allows employers to choose the apprenticeships they offer, the number and frequency.

The government report that the funding available in 2019-20 for investment in apprenticeships in England increased to over £2.5 billion, double what was spent in 2010-11 in cash terms.  Since its introduction the levy has directly supported almost 313,000 people to start their apprenticeship journey. [1]


SRSCC The Apprenticeship Levy2

Can small medium enterprises (SME’s) take advantage of the levy?

The ESFA has given SME’s the opportunity to access any provider on the Registered Apprenticeship Training Provider list and utilise levy funding to support training which includes both new roles and the upskilling of existing employees. Employers will be able to create an account, reserve access to funding and choose a Registered Apprenticeship Training Provider of which SRSCC is a member.

The Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) is keen to ensure the programme remains affordable. Consequently, it’s allowing individual employers to reserve funds for a maximum of three apprenticeship starts.

How do I access the levy money?

You will be required to register for an online digital apprenticeship account and sign an online contractual agreement with the Education Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) agreeing to their terms and conditions.

Who pays the apprentices?

The employer must pay apprentices at least the National Minimum Wage.  There are different rates of pay for apprentices depending on their age and what year of their apprenticeship they’ve completed. The contract of employment should make it clear what wage you’ll pay your apprentice and for what hours.

If your apprentice is an existing employee, you would continue to pay them as per their existing contract.

You must offer apprentices the same conditions as other employees working at similar grades or in similar roles. This includes:

  • paid holidays
  • sick pay
  • any benefits you offer such as childcare voucher schemes
  • any support you offer such as coaching or mentoring

Employer incentive payments for hiring an apprentice.

Employers can claim incentive payments for Apprentices who joined their organisation from 1st August 2020.  Employers can only apply for new apprentices who joined their organisations between 1 August 2020 and 30 September 2021. Organisations cannot apply for an existing employee who joined your organisation before 1 August 2020, even if they started an apprenticeship after this date.

Employers will receive £3,000 for new employees of any age who start their apprenticeship from 1 April 2021 to 30 September 2021.  They can apply for these incentive payments for their apprentices from 1 June 2021.

For new apprentices who joined your organisation between 1 August 2020 and 31 March 2021 aged:

  • 16 to 24, employers will receive £2,000
  • 25 and over, employers will receive £1,500
  • apply for these apprentices before 31 May 2021.


The payment is different to apprenticeship levy funds, so can be spent on anything to support an organisation’s costs. For example, on uniforms, apprentice’s travel or their salary. Plus organisation do not have to pay it back.

To apply you must set up an apprenticeship service account at

Let’s Work Together for your Apprenticeship

Increase procurement knowledge, skills and competency with top accredited Supply Chain Apprenticeship Courses at SRSCC. Start your career here.

To find the right procurement and supply apprenticeship, please contact us by leaving a message online.
Alternatively, speak to an expert by calling 01772 282555.



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The Apprenticeship Levy Explained – Here’s All You Need to Know
Staff Member

Jen Shepherd

Admin and Customer Service Manager

Jenn completed her Apprenticeship in Business and Administration in 2008 and has since built upon a foundation of knowledge and skills in the administration and customer support areas.

Jenn has a degree, as well as a master’s degree, in English which have helped support her commitment to compliance and attention to detail.

Since returning to work from maternity leave in 2020, Jenn has worked in education settings and has an in-depth knowledge on Safeguarding and Child Protection, which she believes is a key part of all employees’ role when working with learners.

Outside of work, Jenn lives with her husband and two young daughters. She had her first book published in 2022 and advocates for the mental wellbeing of new parents.

michelle whalley

Michelle Whalley

Course Progress Mentor

Michelle graduated from Liverpool John Moore’s University in 2003 with a BA(HONs) in Physical Education, Sport, Dance and English, with Qualified Teacher Status. Michelle now holds 20 years’ experience of working in education. Her experience to date is hugely diverse, with a love for learning and striving for excellence across all areas of her life developed from when she was a young girl, representing her country at Athletics. It was from this platform Michelle developed a disciplined approach to every tasks set of her. During her time in teaching, she has taught a wide range of subjects, been a pastoral leader, and led ITT programmes.

Michelle prides herself on her ability to get the best possible outcomes out of people. This has been proven not only in the time she’s spent in education, but also in the set up and running of her own business.

Working in a fast-paced environment, especially becoming a Head of Year as well as teaching has consistently challenged her and ensured she’s flexible and adaptable

Lucy Eckersley

Lucy Eckersley

Administration Assistant

After recently graduating university and achieving a first-class degree in Drama, Lucy wanted to apply her production management experience to an administration role in business. Having worked part time jobs as a waitress and office receptionist during her education, Lucy has good customer service skills and enjoys helping customers and clients by addressing their queries. Lucy is excited to be working at SRSCC and is keen to use her process driven way of working to increase the effectiveness of SRSCC’s administrative processes. In her free time, Lucy enjoys watching musicals and running. She also enjoys spending time outdoors, and loves going hiking from her caravan in the Yorkshire Dales.
Tom Himsworth

Tom Himsworth

Administrative Assistant

Tom graduated from Edgehill University in 2015 with a degree in Creative Writing. After Tom’s journey through university, he worked extensively within the Healthcare sector in mostly administrative roles. It was here that he found his natural organized and observant manner was best suited as it allowed him to understand how each work environment operated, and where processes, customer service and communication could be improved for the benefit of everyone. Throughout his working life, Tom has gained experience with varying mental health conditions and is passionate about advocating the importance of mental health support and well-being. He is currently looking into various volunteer schemes to help champion mental health awareness. Along with this, Tom is an avid writer and is usually working on a story or two and is passionate about learning more about all forms of creative media.
Estelle Marsden

Estelle Marsden

Customer Support Coordinator

Estelle has completed apprenticeships in both Business Administration and Customer service. Her first Role after leaving school was a receptionist at a Podiatrist and that is where she found her passion for helping people and providing positive customer experiences. After 4 years she then moved into retail where her skills progressed further. Estelle has several years’ experience in a customer facing environment, which has led her to the role of Customer Support Coordinator here at SRSCC. Estelle is hoping to expand her expertise further and progress with SRSCC. Other than her passion for Customer Service. Estelle enjoys walking, Hiking, and exploring in her free time. She also enjoys going to the theatre and watching true crime. Estelle likes to spend most of her time with family and friends.

Emma Jackson

Course Progress Mentor

Emma joined SRSCC in 2019 on a freelance basis taking on a teaching and learning consultancy role. She has 20 years of experience in education as a qualified teacher, working in adult learning, secondary and primary school settings in the UK as well as abroad, namely Japan, Hungary, and France. 

More recently Emma has been teaching yoga, resilience, and mindfulness in primary schools to promote the physical and mental well-being of both pupils and staff.

Being multi-lingual and having a zeal for communication, cultural exchange and life-long learning Emma jumped at the opportunity to join the company as a Course Mentor. Building a good rapport with her learners, supporting them to overcome any challenges on their apprentice journey and facilitating them to fulfil their potential is her motivation.

Cumbrian born and bred in the Lake District, Emma enjoys the outdoors. When not relaxing in tree pose, she is most at home trail running in the hills with her husband and dog. Having clocked up 4 marathons to date, the application of her long-distance running mindset of perseverance, determination, discipline and patience is key to supporting her learners in their studies.

SRSCC Staff Images Ashlee Scribbins

Ashlee Scribbins

Office Administrator

Ashlee has joined the SRSCC team as an Office Administrator, and with a level 2 and 3 in Business Administration, she fits right in!

Ashlee has a wide range of experience from working as a Legal Secretary for the Royal Air Force to managing a team. Ashlee is eager to use her customer service and business administration skills for her new role at SRSCC.

SRSCC Staff Images Declan Hemingway

Declan Hemingway

Business Development Account Manager


Declan recently graduated University studying BSc Business and Management with Marketing achieving a 2:1 and was looking for a role in Business Development to put his knowledge and education to the test.

He has a strong desire to grow the SRSCC brand and customer base. Working alongside our Business Development and Relationship Manager; he looks to strengthen both our Commercial and Apprenticeship learner portfolio by liaising with potential and existing learners through building customer relationships and understanding their requirements.