The 20 largest charities in the UK have supported more than 500 members of staff using money from the government's apprenticeship levy, according to new research.
Charity Finance magazine asked the 20 largest UK charities how they had made use of the controversial apprenticeship levy since its introduction in 2017.
All 20 said they had put plans in place to utilise the levy, except the United Church Schools Trust, which did not disclose any information.
The 11 charities that said how many apprentices they had trained said they had supported 553 members of staff between them using money from the levy.
Nuffield Health accounted for the greatest proportion of these, saying it put 225 employees through apprenticeships schemes in 2018.
Barnardo’s, meanwhile, recently celebrated creating 100 apprenticeship places for young people and staff in the first two years of the levy.
Cost to the sector
Many in the charity sector have expressed concern about whether they would be able to withdraw the money they pay into the apprenticeship levy.
The levy requires all organisations with a staff payroll of more than £3m to pay 0.5 per cent of their total wage bill to the government.
In turn, the government provides £15,000 to the employer to offset the cost of implementing the scheme.
The money the organisation pays goes into a separate fund, which can only be spent on apprenticeship training and assessment for apprentices that work at least 50 per cent of the time in England.
The five charities that gave figures said they had paid a combined more than £2.5m into the levy.
National Trust was the largest of these, paying a bill of £1m each year. The charity said it had so far made use of £140,000 of this, which it expected to rise to £334,000 in future.
MHA said the levy costs the charity “more than £500,000 a year” while British Heart Foundation said there was the same amount in its levy fund.
RNLI said levy costs it £300,000 a year while Save the Children said there was £339,000 in its levy fund.
The apprenticeship levy has been an unpopular scheme with the private sector as well, with scepticism over how well used it has been since its introduction in April 2017.
In a parliamentary answer last month, skills minister Anne Milton revealed that between May 2017 and the end of January 2019, levy-paying employers had utilised £601m of the £3.9bn funds made available to them to pay for apprenticeship training in England.
This amounts to 15 per cent of total funds entering employers’ accounts in the same period.
Subscribers to Charity Finance magazine can read the full apprenticeship levy research here.