If your organisation, including any connected companies or charities, has an annual pay bill of more than £3 million you will pay the apprenticeship levy through the apprenticeship service. If you don’t pay the levy, you will fund your apprentices in a different way.

1. Before setting up your account on the apprenticeship service

You can use this tool to estimate if your organisation will pay the apprenticeship levy and how much funding you’ll receive.

If you pay the levy you need to talk to:

  • the person who has access to your Government Gateway account because you will need to use this to set up your apprenticeship service account - you should do this as early as possible - (this is usually someone from your payroll department)
  • HR or someone from your training department who will work out your apprenticeship strategy and talk to training providers when you take on apprentices
  • your finance department who will make strategic decisions about how you will spend your levy funds
  • your payroll department who will work out how much levy you need to declare to HMRC each month

You need to decide who will have access to the apprenticeship service account - this will be staff who can:

  • approve apprenticeship data - for example, an HR or training manager
  • approve costs for training which are agreed with the training provider - for example, an HR or training manager
  • reconcile payments to training providers - for example, a member of your finance team
  • reconcile levy payments coming into the account - for example, someone from payroll
  • sign the agreement with the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) - a senior member of staff who has the authority to sign a contract

You will need to work out how much apprenticeship levy you are due to pay each month and submit it to HRMC through the PAYE process.

2. Setting up multiple connected organisations in your account

If you are registering on behalf of multiple connected companies or charities, you need to think about:

  • the structure of your organisations and PAYE schemes
  • how you are going to spend your funds

You should register every organisation that will make an agreement with a training provider for apprenticeship training. Use the organisation’s legal name, which will be the same as the name on the agreement with the provider. You don’t need to add any of your other organisations to the account.

It is important that you set-up your account correctly as you can’t move funds between the accounts once they’re set up. If you would prefer to manage your account across all of your connected organisations, then you should add them to the same account.

You’ll need to register every organisation that will make an agreement with a training provider for apprenticeship training.

For example, if you have multiple PAYE schemes, you could create multiple accounts or have one account for all of them.

There is no restriction on the number of connected organisations you can add, but a single PAYE scheme can’t be split across multiple accounts.

3. Registering on the apprenticeship service

Once you have considered the steps above, you need to set up your account on the apprenticeship service.

4. What to do after you’ve set-up your account

Follow these steps:

  1. Add PAYE schemes that you want to use for apprenticeship funding.
  2. Add organisations that enter into a contract with training providers to ensure that the training providers get paid.
  3. Invite other members of your team to join the account. You can control what each team member can do within the account.
  4. Sign the employer agreement with the ESFA.
  5. View transactions and check what you will have to spend.
  6. Search for apprenticeships and approved training providers.
  7. Add apprentices and update details of existing apprentices.

Payment process for apprenticeship accounts:

  1. 19th of the month - declare your levy to HMRC.
  2. 23rd of the month - funds appear in your account.
  3. By 4th working day of the following month - approve apprentices. This approval is authorisation for the release of funds.
  4. By 4th working day of the following month - providers submit ILR returns.
  5. 5th working day of the month - funds released from your account.
  6. 11th working day of the month - providers receive payments from the ESFA.

If you don’t see the correct funds in your account, check that:

  • you’re logged into the correct account
  • the correct PAYE schemes are added to the account
  • your HMRC declarations are submitted by the 19th of the month

How much funding you’ll receive

The amount of funding entering your account each month is calculated as follows:

  • the levy you declare to HMRC through the PAYE process
  • multiplied by the proportion of the employer’s pay bill paid to their workforce in England
  • plus a 10% government top-up on this amount

5. Using your account

Once you’ve accepted the agreement with ESFA you can use your account to:

  • start the process of adding apprentices to the account - if you don’t want to, there is an option to ask the training provider to do this
  • authorise payment to your training provider once you’ve entered and approved the details of the apprentices in your account
  • view payment activity and see your balance
  • see your English percentage
  • pause or stop a payment to your training provider

If you don’t add and approve any apprentices in your account, your training provider will not get paid from your available funds. The data they submit must match the information you’ve approved for each apprentice in the apprenticeship service.

Your training provider will submit data about your apprentices to the ESFA by the 4th working day of each month. That data needs to match the data that you have approved in your account.

You should agree with your training provider, a reasonable deadline for adding/checking and agreeing apprentices, to make sure the data is correct before the end of each month.

The funds that are used to pay your training provider will leave your account on the 5th working day of the month and your training provider will be paid on the 11th working day of the month.

Before you approve your cohorts

Make sure:

  • you’re checking the correct cohort or apprentice
  • the apprenticeship details matches what’s been agreed between you and your training provider
  • the total price of the training, including any end-point assessment costs are correct (excluding VAT)
  • that if the price of the training is greater than the funding band maximum, you know that you’ll be invoiced directly from the training provider to pay the difference

Changing apprentice details

Once you’ve added a cohort or apprentice, you can change the details in your account.

You can make changes to apprentices’ details:

  • before you’ve approved the cohort with your training provider
  • before the apprentice starts

Once the apprentice has started you can only change:

  • the cost of the training, but only in the first month which your training provider will need to change in the information they submit to the ESFA
  • the date of birth and name of the apprentice

If the apprentice wants to change apprenticeship, you will have to stop the current apprenticeship and start a new apprenticeship. You, or your training provider, will need to add the new apprenticeship details and cost.

Make sure that you and your training provider approve any changes that have been made.

Managing payments

You can manage payments in your account by using stop or pause.

Stopping payments

You can stop payments if the apprentice:

  • didn’t start the apprenticeship
  • decided to leave after starting the apprenticeship
  • decided the apprenticeship wasn’t for them
  • the wrong apprenticeship information was approved

If you stop payments for an apprentice, you must make sure that you select the right stop date in the apprenticeship service. Any outstanding payments up to this date will be paid.

Once an apprenticeship is stopped, payments are permanently stopped for that apprenticeship. The stop cannot be undone unless a new record is agreed for this apprenticeship.

An apprentice can only be on one apprenticeship at any time. You can’t start a new apprenticeship within the start and end dates of the previous apprenticeship.

Pausing payments

You can temporarily pause payments to your training provider. When you resume payments, they will continue from the point that they were paused.

6. Help

You can contact the National Apprenticeship Service for advice or help using the service.

Telephone: 0800 015 0600 - Find out about call charges

Or email us: helpdesk@manage-apprenticeships.service.gov.uk.

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