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Innovate Finance provides statement on Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond’s speech at the Conservative Party Conference 2018

Innovate Finance welcomes the Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond’s remarks today in support of innovation and SMEs. We are particularly encouraged by the government’s intention to introduce greater flexibility for the apprenticeships levy, by allowing larger businesses to hand over a quarter of apprenticeship levy funds to businesses in their supply chains to improve workplace-based training.

Many smaller firms in both the financial and technology sectors have argued that reform of the current system is required if continued business support for the scheme is to be encouraged. Reports that training costs are higher than expected, whilst apprenticeship numbers are actually smaller than anticipated in these sectors overall, remains a concern. SMEs in particular are reportedly finding it very difficult to move forward with apprenticeships as open access products are not necessarily as open as they seem due to the costs involved. This is especially troubling for small firms as there is a real danger they will be left behind.

We will continue to push for clarity regarding the definition of off-site training provision in support of apprenticeships and how our members can access such off-site schemes with greater ease. We welcome the Chancellor’s focus on STEM in the context of apprenticeships, as it reinforces the growing need to address the digital skills gap in the UK.

Innovate Finance will continue to work with members to understand how they are navigating the apprenticeship system and will share our findings with key stakeholders such as government to improve access.

-Charlotte Crosswell, CEO, Innovate Finance in response to Philip Hammond’s announcement on the apprenticeship levy.