Small council-run schools should be exempt from apprentice levy, LGA warns

The Local Government Association (LGA) has said that plans to boost apprenticeship funding in England will hit school budgets, with small council schools most ta risk, say town hall bosses.

The news comes ahead of May when all employers with wage bills over £3 million annually will be required to pay 0.5 per cent of the funding into the new apprenticeship levy.

Council schools below that threshold will also be liable to pay the bill as they will be listed under the overall local authority wage bill, with only small academies being exempt.

The LGA warned that the levy will unfairly hit the finances of about 9,000 small community schools, which are maintained by the council, and thus contribute to the overall wage bill of the council rather than being counted separately.

This means that the apprenticeship levy is applied to them, and will need to be accounted for in school budgets from April 201.

Richard Watts, chairman of the LGA's Children and Young People Board, explained: “It is discriminatory for small council-maintained schools not to be exempted from the

Apprenticeship Levy in the same way that small academies and faith schools will be. They will be forced to find additional money to pay the Levy, whilst an academy or faith school with an identical wage bill can invest that money in making sure their pupils get an excellent education.

"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. Clearly what really matters is making sure that all children get the education they deserve, regardless of school structures, so applying initiatives like the Levy equally across all schools is only right.”

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