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Charities missing out on Apprenticeship Levy opportunities


Low awareness of the Apprenticeship Levy and how it can be used by charities means many more could yet be benefitting from the opportunities it offers, according to the Positive Transformation Group.

Launched in 2007, all UK organisations with a payroll over £3mn per annum have to pay the levy – 0.5% of their annual pay bill. A form of tax introduced to help companies offer more apprenticeships, it is paid monthly through PAYE and stored in a fund that can be accessed to help pay for apprenticeship costs, with training providers paid directly from this.

After 24 months, unused money goes to the government – this totalled nearly £2 billion last year. Organisations can however gift up to 25% to be used by others – including charities – for the same purpose.

Positive Transformation Group (PTG) helps corporates both gift and spend their levy. According to George Greaves, its Director of Innovation and Talent, the range of apprenticeships now available – which range from Level 2 (equivalent to GCSEs), all the way up to Masters level – means some 60% of the levy is now used on upskilling existing staff with leadership training particularly popular. And the levy gifting option means charities too can benefit from the opportunities apprenticeships provide.

Greaves explained:

“Some organisations are not at the stage where they’re looking invest in apprenticeships, and instead work with PTG to transfer up to 25% of their levy to either a charity of their choice. We might work with their existing charity partners – or they can give us some criteria that they would like us to use to source charities to gift it to.”

With PTG, Osborne Clarke for example has transferred £70,000 in unused apprenticeship levy to enable ten Royal Society for Blind Children senior managers to upskill through a Level 5 management apprenticeship.

Eileen Harding, People and Facilities Director at RSBC commented:

“With reduced training budgets due to the Covid-19 pandemic and a fundraising landscape taking a little more time to return to normal, the levy transfer has been crucial for RSBC.


“This funding is providing our managers with an opportunity they wouldn’t otherwise have had to grow and expand their skills and, ultimately, to better support blind and partially sighted children and young people, and their families.”

PTG is working to raise awareness of the levy among both corporates and nonprofits so more charities can benefit.

Levy opportunities for charities in brief

Organisations that pay the levy can choose to gift up to 25% to a charity of their choiceOrganisations can also work with a third-party specialist like PTG to find a charityCharities interested in benefitting from the levy to fund apprenticeships for their workers can approach PTG to match them with a corporate partnerPTG can bring smaller charities together where they each have low numbers of people interested in the same course and present them as one cohort to the training provider to help keep costs down

The government’s Apprenticeship Levy guidance can be found here.

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