The £1bn apprenticeship levy underspend

More than £1 billion of unused apprenticeship levy funding paid by employers expired between May 2020 and February 2021.

Expired levy funds increased by 22 per cent for the period May 2020 to February 2021, compared with a year earlier. Skills and Apprenticeships minister Gillian Keegan said that, across all employers in England, £1,039 million in levy funds had expired in the nine months following May 2020.

The Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) chief executive Jane Hickie said the numbers are "extremely frustrating".

"Obviously with workplaces closed, the pandemic has had a major impact on apprenticeship starts and levy spend but the good news is that as we come out of lockdown, non-levy contracts are about to become a thing of the past with employers of all sizes being able to express demand through the digital apprenticeship service."


The Apprenticeship Levy came into effect in 2017 as a way to encourage large employers to nurture their skilled workers, invest in new talent, and bridge emerging skills gaps. Employer Levy contributions grow into a ringfenced training fund, which can then be spent on apprenticeship training at all levels of your business.

DO YOU KNOW – That levy-paying employers can transfer up to 25 per cent of the annual value of funds in their apprenticeship service accounts to other employers.

Ms Keegan, Apprenticeship Minister, noted, 'We are simplifying the transfers process, enabling employers to make strategic decisions over where their levy funds are spent. From August 2021, employers will be able to pledge funds for transfer, and we will introduce a new national online matching service, making it quicker and simpler for levy-payers to find employers that share their business priorities to transfer funds to'.

If you are an SME who supplies a Levy employer, why not ask them if they have funds to spare? After all, if they don't transfer their Levy or use it, they will lose it.

Companies can use Apprenticeship funding to upskill key staff and train newly hired apprentices, whether they are a Levy employer or an SME.  If you employ an Apprentice between now and September, your business could receive up to £4000 in incentives.

Aspire to learn offers funded Apprenticeship Training and Qualifications from Level 2-5 across various sectors from Sales and Marketing, Accounting and Business, Property, Tech, Health, Social, Child Care and Education.

You can find out more or get in touch with us at


21 Jun 2021