Source: FWD

The FWD has written to Robert Halfon, minister for skills, apprenticeship and higher education, calling for reform of the Apprenticeship Levy.

The letter, signed by FWD members as well as other trade bodies, calls for the government to take action on the levy ahead of this year’s spring budget.

Members are demanding a change of the current one-size-fits-all model, which has cost the sector £3.3bn in unused apprenticeship funds returned to the Treasury since 2019.

The letter outlines three key asks to the government: extending provisions to include travel, hardware, and financial support; extending the scope of the levy to include wider educational programmes; and allowing flexibility around on-the-job hour requirement.

Among the obstacles of the current levy are complex criteria making “much of the funds inaccessible”, as well as lack of flexibility around classroom hour requirements, which put a significant strain on businesses.

The letter has been signed by leading wholesalers and buying groups including Bidfood, Confex, Henderson Foodservice, Sysco GB and Unitas, as well as trade bodies including the British Soft Drink Association and the Provision Trade Federation.

“The Apprenticeship Levy holds the potential to foster future generations, support our industries and create a sustainable and resilient workforce. However, its efficacy hinges on its usability and flexibility”, concludes the FWD letter.

“Introducing these much-needed reforms to the Apprenticeship Levy would allow it to realise its intended impact, unlocking productivity for business and bolstering growth across our economy.”

The FWD has been advocating to reform the Apprenticeship Levy, presenting its findings last month at a parliamentary reception in attendance of shadow food minister Daniel Zeichner and shadow transport minister Bill Esterson.