Companies not ready, says Chambers

More calls for delay to Apprenticeship levy

Liz CameronBusiness leaders have repeated calls for the UK Government to postpone the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy, claiming that not enough companies are prepared for its introduction next year. 

Scottish Chambers of Commerce says four in ten business managers do not understand the levy or have not even heard of it.

The Chambers add that the Scottish government has compounded the problem by failing to put forward a clear plan as to how Scottish companies will be affected.

Its demand for the levy to be delayed follows a similar call by the CBI last month.

The levy, a 0.5% payroll tax on all employers with an annual wage bill above £3 million, is designed to address a chronic skills shortages, but has drawn criticism from businesses since it was announced by Chancellor George Osborne in 2015.

CBI director general Carolyn Fairbairn said it was “too narrowly defined” and that it suffered from “poor design” and a “rushed timescale”.

Liz Cameron (pictured), chief executive of Scottish Chambers of Commerce, has added to those remarks by warning that companies are not ready.

“A UK-wide report has today been published by the British Chambers of Commerce, which shows that almost 40% of businesses have no understanding, or haven’t heard of, the Apprenticeship Levy,” she said.

“Here in Scotland, the position is even more confused as, with just over six months before the tax is scheduled to come into force, the Scottish Government has failed to put forward any clear plan on how Scottish businesses will be affected. 

“This is why organisations such as Oil and Gas UK have expressed their deep concerns about the current position.

“This situation is completely unacceptable.  No matter where a business is based in the UK, it should by now have a clear understanding of what the Apprenticeship Levy is, who will be paying it and what they can expect to see in terms of additional skills and apprenticeship provision in return. 

“This is clearly not the case, particularly in Scotland and unless the situation is rectified quickly, then the basis for the introduction of the tax is undermined and its introduction in Scotland should be postponed until April 2018.”


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