15 May 2016

Tory Apprenticeship Levy to Clobber Scotland's College Budgets

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has backed calls from the Scottish National Party for the Conservative UK Government to clarify exactly how much money it is planning to take away from Scotland’s colleges through the introduction of its Apprenticeship Levy.

The matter was raised in the House of Commons at Business Questions when SNP Treasury spokesperson Roger Mullin MP asked Nick Boles, the Tory Minister of State for Skills, whether Scotland’s colleges would be exempt from the Levy given that they are the largest providers of apprenticeship education. Mr Boles said that the Levy would apply to all employers throughout the UK with a payroll bill of more than £3million.
Scotland has a significant number of large colleges with a payroll bill of more than £3million and Colleges Scotland estimate that the Levy could cost Scotland’s colleges £1.9million per year.

Commenting Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“It now looks increasingly likely that the Conservative UK Government is going to clobber Scotland’s colleges with this Levy.

“Colleges Scotland have estimated that this will cost college budgets £1.9million per year – a huge sum to take away and with absolutely no clarity from the UK Government as to what is going to happen to this money.

“The real irony is that Scotland’s colleges are among the biggest trainers of apprentices in the UK, but could now have their budgets slashed by the UK Government in a move that could end up putting apprenticeships at risk.

“It is not surprising that the introduction of the Levy remains a matter of fundamental concern for the Scottish Government and the UK’s other devolved administrations. It encroaches on devolved responsibilities and is causing considerable concern for colleges and other employers.

“The Conservative UK Government has no control over how the Scottish Government or the other devolved administrations provide apprenticeships, so to imply otherwise by collecting what amounts to an employment tax is misleading for any employer with operations outside England.

“The Conservative UK Government must now offer urgent clarity over the Levy and urgently consider the wider implications of its introduction. It must explain exactly why it seems intent on hitting Scotland’s colleges and employers and what will happen with the money it is taking away.”
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