Guiding you to a better future

For a successful business, you need a viable business idea, the skills to make it work and the funding. Discover whether your idea has what it takes.

Forming your business correctly is essential to ensure you are protected and you comply with the rules. Learn how to set up your business.

It is likely you will need funding to start your business unless you have your own money. Discover some of the main sources of start up funding.

Businesses and individuals must account for and pay various taxes. Understand your tax obligations and how to file, account and pay any taxes you owe.

Businesses are required to comply with a wide range of business laws. We introduce the main rules and regulations you must comply with.

Learn why business planning is an essential exercise if your business is to start and grow successfully, attract funding or target new markets.

Marketing matters. It drives sales and helps promote your brand and products. Discover how to market your business and reach your target customers.

Some businesses need a high street location whilst others can be run from home. Understand the key factors from cost to location, size to security.

Your employees can your biggest asset. They can also be your biggest challenge. We explain how to recruitment and manage staff successfully.

It is likely your business could not function without some form of IT. Learn how to specify, buy, maintain and secure your business IT.

Few businesses manage the leap from start up to high-growth business. Learn what it takes to scale up and take your business to the next level.

Levy in question as apprenticeships fall

3 April 2018

Levy in question as apprenticeships fallNew figures show that there has been a 25% drop in the number of people starting apprenticeships in the first two quarters of the 2017/18 academic year.

The Department for Education has reported that there were 194,100 apprenticeship starts in the first two quarters of 2017/18, compared to 258,800 in the same period the year before.

The drop comes one year after the Apprenticeship Levy was introduced. Business groups have said that the Apprentice Levy system is too complex.

Jane Gratton, head of business environment and skills policy at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said: "The restrictions and complexity around the use of the Apprenticeship Levy have made it more difficult for firms to use them to train staff and plug skills shortages … The Government urgently needs to work with businesses to find ways to make the Apprenticeship Levy work better for everyone and ensure that the UK economy has the skilled staff it needs."

Mike Cherry, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), said: "The latest drop in apprenticeship starts marks yet another worrying downward trend with fewer and fewer young people pursuing apprenticeships as an avenue to sustainable employment. Today's 16% drop in the number of 19 year-olds starting apprenticeships is not good news. It is a clear signal that big businesses have not gotten to grips with the Apprenticeship Levy, but also that small businesses not paying the levy are struggling to offer opportunities as well."

A new survey conducted by the Institute of Directors (IoD) has found that just 19% of employers that pay the Levy expect to take on more apprentices and only 14% of them think the Apprenticeship Levy is fit for purpose.

Seamus Nevin, IoD head of policy research, said: "The Apprenticeship Levy is not working as intended. The new system was supposed to be employer-driven but the narrow and centrally-controlled design means this is not happening. It is not helping firms to invest in skills and train in a way that best suits the needs of our economy. Many employers are unable to make the complex and restrictive rules fit their specific training requirements."

News type:

Stay up-to-date with business advice and news

Sign up to this lively and colourful newsletter for new and more established small businesses.

Contact us

Make an enquiry