Changes to apprenticeship funding bands

From the 1 August this year, we’ll have an amended apprenticeship funding regime for new starts on apprenticeship frameworks and standards.

There’ll be 30 funding bands in place instead of 15, and all new starts and standards will be placed onto the relevant band.

This new system has bands ranging from £1,500 to £27,000. The Department for Education (DfE) continues to expect employers to negotiate a price for their apprentice’s training and assessment, in the knowledge that the funding band sets the maximum that government is prepared to contribute towards off-the-job training and assessment for each apprenticeship. The increase in the range of bands, it seems, is to encourage a more granular upper limit for standards, and encourage the negotiations outlined above. 

As before, the upper limit of each funding band represents the maximum amount of funds that an employer who pays the levy can use towards an individual apprenticeship. The upper limit of the funding bands also represents the maximum price that government will ‘co-invest’ towards, where an employer does not pay the levy or has insufficient funds in their account. Again, the 30 funding bands do not have a lower threshold as the department don’t want to ‘prejudge what is the correct price for a provider and employer to settle on’.

In the main, existing standards and frameworks will be placed in the new structure at the same funding level as they have been under 15 funding bands.

However, alongside this, the Institute for Apprenticeships (IfA) has started reviewing the funding bands for 31 standards, which are already approved for delivery. The IfA will pass its recommendations to the DfE, who take the final decision on all funding bands.

According to the IfA, ‘employer feedback suggests’ low take up is due to the way these 31 standards are currently placed in funding bands. Although they’ve not confirmed it, it’s highly likely that some, if not all, of the 31 standards will have their funding bands amended down to a lower band.

There’s no date given for the close of the review, but as it came hot on the heels of the release of the new funding bands, it’s our expectation these new bands to be in place for 1 August and the new academic year.