In 2017 the Government introduced a series of apprenticeship reforms. This included a 0.5% levy for all employers with a wage bill of more than £3 million. During 2020 additional changes will impact how employers who do not pay the apprenticeship levy arrange their apprenticeships.
From January 2020, all employers who wish to employ and train apprentices but do not pay the apprenticeship levy will be able to create an account on the digital apprenticeship service and reserve funding for up to 3 apprenticeship starts.
If you are an employer, this means you will be required to ensure funds are available for training by reserving them in this way, before recruiting an apprentice or making an offer of an apprenticeship to an existing employee.
Note: funds are only available for use with apprenticeship standards and cannot be used for apprenticeship frameworks which will be withdrawn by August 2020.
How to register a digital apprenticeship service (DAS) account
Registering a digital apprenticeship service, or DAS, account is relatively straight-forward but you will need some important information in order to proceed:
Details of at least one PAYE scheme
The Government Gateway ID and password for that scheme
For more information about how to set up your DAS account, check out this handy video which has been prepared by the ESFA to guide you through the process.
Once you have registered your account you will be able to:
Request reservation of apprenticeship funding
Manage your account and add other users to it
Find, save, manage and pay training providers
Add and manage apprenticeships
Receive a transfer of apprenticeship funds from a levy paying employer
You'll need some important information to make a reservation of funds?
Once you have created your DAS account and are ready to make a reservation of funds, you can select the required apprenticeship standard from the list of those that have been approved for delivery, and the month the apprenticeship training will start. You will be able to select your chosen training provider from the list of those approved to deliver the training (see RoATP for an up to date list of approved training providers). If you already know who you would like to use before you make a reservation of funds, it is a good idea to check that they can accommodate the training and the start date proposed.
Fund reservation is limited to a maximum of 3 apprenticeship starts?
The process of reserving funds for an apprenticeship was only introduced in January 2020. While the government is testing the new reservation policy, employers will be limited to three active (where the reservation has not yet turned into a commitment and has not yet expired) or used (where the reservation has been turned into a commitment) reservations at any given time.
Reservations - use them or lose them!
Once available, reservations will expire if they are not used within 3 months of the apprenticeship start date which is detailed at the point of reservation. Alternatively, if you have made a reservation that you no longer require, you (or your training provider acting on your behalf) can delete the reservation.
Expired and deleted reservations cannot be turned into commitments and do not count towards the reservation limits.
What happens once you have reserved apprenticeship funds?
Once you have reserved funds, you can recruit, or make an offer to an existing employee, for an apprenticeship. You will need to add the apprentice to your DAS account – this will enable you to formalise the arrangements with your chosen training provider and enable the ESFA to make the payments to the provider on your behalf.
There are a number of things that you will either need to know or have already done before you add the apprentice to your DAS account. These include the following:
You will need to know the name(s) of the apprentice(s) you wish to add
You will need to know your chosen training provider’s UK Provider Reference Number (UKPRN) – this information is detailed on the RoATP or you can ask your training provider to give you this
Make sure the organisation that is named on the contract you have with your training provider is in your account
Make sure the PAYE scheme that each apprentice will be paid through is in your account
Check out this video for instructions on how to add your apprentice(s) to your DAS account.
Note: The process for adding an apprentice that is being funded through a transfer of levy funds from another employer is slightly different. Check out this video for more details.