Smaller council-maintained schools should receive the same treatment as small academies and faith schools, and be exempt from the Apprenticeship Levy, councils say today.

The Local Government Association (LGA), which represents 370 councils in England and Wales, says all schools with a wage bill of less than £3 million a year should be exempt from the Levy.

The Levy, which will be introduced next April, will see all businesses including schools with a wage bill over £3 million a year contributing 0.5 per cent of that wage bill to fund new apprenticeships. However, schools with a smaller wage bill that are maintained by the local authority will also have to pay.

Where a school employs its own staff, for example an academy or faith school, they are exempt from the levy if their wage bill is under the £3 million threshold. However, where a school is maintained and its staff are technically employed by the local authority, those staff 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 2017.

Cllr Liz Green, LGA Lib Dem Group Spokesperson for Children and Young People’s services, said:

“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. The Government therefore needs to urgently revise the Apprenticeship Levy to make sure that all schools are on an equal footing.”



  1. Faith schools, which are ‘voluntary aided’, are exempt under the £3 million threshold. The faith schools, which are ‘voluntary controlled’, fall under the council as employer and are therefore not exempt.

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