As a levy paying employer you will need to register for the digital apprenticeship service in order to manage and essentially spend the apprenticeship levy funds and the 10% Government top up. Whilst it is not possible yet to register, it is possible to start to think about and plan how you will manage this process.
The digital apprenticeship service will be the place you will go to in order to manage the finances in your digital account, find out what apprenticeship provision is available (and with whom) and to begin some all important planning in relation to how far your apprenticeship levy funds will go.
It is worth imagining this as a virtual bank account. Each month your account will be credited with your apprenticeship levy contribution plus the 10% top up. This amount will then be reduced as and when you invest in apprenticeships. You will be able to see how much you have spent, how much is available and, perhaps most importantly how soon your funds will expire.
Remember, any money that goes into your digital account has a 24 month life-span; so in other words, the money credited to your account in month one will need to be spent within 24 months, or you will lose it.
Although you cannot register fully for a digital account yet there are several things that you can do to start preparing yourself.
- Identify who within your organisation is going to co-ordinate / manage this. Will you have one person, will you need several, who will have the final say on what apprenticeship delivery is commissioned etc? Will this person be working in finance, L&D, HR?
- If you cannot resource this fully, what external support can you get, and will it be impartial? There will be organisations charging fees for this or suggesting that you have to spend all of your apprenticeship levy with them. Consider who will provide this support, do you actually need to pay a fee, will they be impartial and what value will they add to your business. (For what it’s worth, we believe that this support should be provided free of charge and we will certainly be promoting that approach to our clients).
- Start to identify now your training and apprenticeship needs and do not stop at just training / support that traditionally has been fundable. Identify everything and then start to work closely with trusted training providers to see what can be delivered within the apprenticeship frameworks and standards that exist.
- Use the apprenticeship levy planning tool. This allows you to start to profile as far ahead as 2020, make calculations as to the scale of your levy bill and see the impact of each apprenticeship start on your digital account funds. This is an excellent free tool provided by BIS and is available to everyone.
I cannot stress the importance of starting your planning now. We are only 6 months from the first PAYE returns for 2017 and you will start to see both an increase in your tax bill and the monies building in your digital account.
Keep an eye out for our future blogs on managing your apprenticeship levy funds. For any help around the digital apprenticeship service or the free planning tool available please feel free to contact me.