‘Small schools whose budgets are already under severe pressure could be pushed beyond breaking point by the introduction of the new apprenticeship levy, school and local government leaders are warning.
The levy, to be introduced in April, requires all businesses – including schools – with a wage bill over £3m a year, to contribute 0.5% of their wage bill to fund new apprenticeships.
But whereas academy or faith schools – who employ their own staff – will be exempt from the levy if their wage bill is under the £3m threshold, small schools with similar wage bills that are run by local authorities will have to pay the levy because staff are employed by the authority and therefore contribute to the overall wage bill of the council.
The Local Government Association (LGA), which represents 370 councils in England and Wales, argues that all schools with a wage bill of less than £3m should be exempt from paying the levy and says council-maintained schools are being “dealt an unfair hand” compared with academies…
The LGA estimates that the disparity will affect up to 2.8m pupils at 9,000 council-maintained schools with wage bills under £3m. Watts called on the government to level the playing field for schools, adding: “It is no secret that many schools are struggling with their funding, yet once again, council-maintained schools are being dealt a poor hand compared to academies.”
In response, apprenticeship and skills minister Robert Halfon said the apprenticeship levy would boost economic productivity, increasing the country’s skills base and give millions a step up the ladder of opportunity.’ - Guardian