You’ve chosen a provider, decided how to spend your Levy funds - all that’s left to do is the paperwork.
Unfortunately, it seems many employers are encountering problems when it comes to handling the procurement contracts for Levy-funded apprenticeships and in this guide, we’ll explain why these can’t be handled in the same way companies typically tackle procurement.
How do Apprenticeship Levy contracts differ from regular procurement contracts?
While employers are understandably eager to claw back the money they’re paying into the Apprenticeship Levy, misunderstandings persist around who ‘owns’ that money once it’s paid into your Apprenticeship Service account.
When signing up for the Apprenticeship Service, you agreed to a range of terms and conditions set by the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) that dictate how you can use the funds in your account.
Although the funds in your Levy account are yours to spend, they’re technically public money and as such, anything in your procurement contract needs to incorporate the guidelines set out by the ESFA.
To this end, you should ensure you’re cross-referencing your contracts with these guidelines and amending them, since your typical procurement contracts may not cut the mustard in terms of compliance.
If you do opt to press on with creating your own procurement contract, rather than taking your provider’s advice, it’s well worth referencing the legal agreement organisations like yours must sign with the ESFA before taking on apprentices.
You’ll want to make sure you’re ticking all the necessary boxes, since it’s within the power of the government to both suspend your funding and claw back any funds that have already been committed if the payment or any other aspect of the arrangement is found not to comply with funding rules.
“The SFA will act reasonably and proportionately in exercising its discretion to recover any sum from the Employer under this clause,” it warns.
Since it’s probably your first time creating a contract of this nature, it’s well worth factoring in some time for amendments and ensuring your provider has a copy well in advance to make sure it’s fit for purpose.
If you’re dealing with multiple providers as part of your Apprenticeship Levy provision, this problem could easily be exacerbated, so you should consider using your principal provider as a ‘test case’ - where you can iron out the bugs.
While this involves some front-loading of time and resources, it’s preferable to encountering delays to your apprenticeships that impact your training timetables.
If you’ve got any questions, queries or comments around the issue of Apprenticeship Levy contracts and your relationships with both providers and the government - be sure to get in touch via email, LinkedIn or Twitter.
And if you’re looking for more advice on anything Levy-related - don’t miss out on our comprehensive eBook guide, which you can download for free right now: