Ap­pren­tice­ship levy ‘fail­ing’ Scots re­tail­ers

The Scotsman - - Business - By SCOTT REID emma.newlands@jpress.co.uk

Re­tail in­dus­try lead­ers have ap­pealed for gov­ern­ment ac­tion af­ter claim­ing the ap­pren­tice­ship levy is “fail­ing” Scot­tish re­tail­ers.

Trade or­gan­i­sa­tion the Scot­tish Re­tail Con­sor­tium (SRC) said its analysis showed that re­tail mod­ern ap­pren­tice­ship starts in Scot­land have fallen by 15 per cent in the last year, de­spite the in­tro­duc­tion of the ap­pren­tice­ship levy by the UK gov­ern­ment.

It fol­lows the pub­li­ca­tion of fig­ures from Skills De­vel­op­ment Scot­land, which showed that there were 2,263 mod­ern ap­pren­tice­ship re­tail starts in 2017-18, down from 2,683 the pre­vi­ous year.

The SRC noted that the fig­ure had fallen from more than 3,000 starts in 2013-14.

The de­cline comes de­spite 2017 be­ing the first year that Scot­tish re­tail­ers have been forced to pay the ap­pren­tice­ship levy.

The SRC has cal­cu­lated that Scots re­tail­ers paid £12 mil­lion into the levy pot in 201718. While the levy is a UK gov­ern­ment pol­icy, Scot­tish min­is­ters con­trol what the lo­cal rev­enues are used for.

Ewan Macdon­ald-rus­sell, SRC head of pol­icy, said: “We now have clear ev­i­dence the ap­pren­tice­ship levy is fail­ing Scot­tish re­tail­ers. In­stead of sup­port­ing skills and train­ing, this has be­come an em­ploy­ment tax, pe­nal­is­ing busi­nesses for em­ploy­ing work­ers.

“Gov­ern­ment needs to help re­tail­ers tran­si­tion to a more pro­duc­tive busi­ness model by putting in place em­ployer­friendly train­ing and de­vel­op­ment struc­tures. It’s time for UK and Scot­tish min­is­ters to ad­mit the cur­rent ap­proach isn’t work­ing.” 0 Ewan Mac­don­al­drus­sell, SRC head of pol­icy

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