Changes to the government’s controversial Apprenticeship Levy announced this week have done little to alleviate the concerns of the trade, says the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA).
The amendments, made since the government initially published its provisional policy in August, include an extension of the time employers who pay the levy can access the funds, from 18 months to two years.
According to the government: 'This longer expiry period will help employers to prepare for the new system, giving more time to identify the skill needs they can address using their levy payments, select the best training and scale their apprenticeship programmes.'
The levy will be paid by employers with a pay bill of over £3 million from April 2017, with funds being paid out from May. According to the government, it will double investment in apprenticeships by 2020 from 2010 levels, to £2.5bn.
However, employers who want to outsource training or reallocate their training funds to other parties, such as Apprenticeship Training Agencies (ATAs) who employ apprentices on their behalf, will have to wait until 2018 to do so.
Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the BBPA, said: “Increasing the time during which employers can use the funding from their levy contribution, from 18 months to two years, is welcome, as is the increase in the level of funding available to employers using the food and drink engineer standard.
'We remain concerned, however, that employers will not be able to use their contributions for existing apprentices already working in their business. This seems to penalise employers in our sector that have bought into the scheme, and already invest heavily in apprentices.
'Setting up a new working group to look at how funds can be used within the supply chain is very welcome.
'The BBPA will continue our contribution towards this debate, as it has a huge effect on leased and tenanted pubs and suppliers to the brewing industry, but it is unfortunate that no change looks likely before 2018.'