Training providers helping to test the apprenticeship service

Concluding the 2019 test phase for smaller employers, who do not pay the apprenticeship levy, and ensuring payment for apprenticeships added during the test period.

The Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) are grateful to the smaller employers, who do not pay the apprenticeship levy, and their related training providers who have participated in the recent test of the apprenticeship service.We are now looking at the steps that need to be taken to bring this part of testing to a close. We have written to all participating training providers and employers to explain what they need to do to conclude their test activity and to ensure that providers receive the right payment via the service.

This includes ensuring all test period apprenticeship starts are created and approved on-service and ensuring that there are no on-service non-levy starts created with a start date after 31 October 2019. Any outstanding starts (with a start date up to 31 October) need to be created and approved on-service no later than 06 December 2019. After this date no further on-service starts can be created as part of this test phase. Training providers, with a non-levy contract for apprenticeship training, will still be able to recruit via their non levy procured contract, subject to their maximum contract value.

To ensure prompt and accurate payment is made, for on-service starts created as part of this test, it is important that all Individualised Learner Record (ILR) returns for November delivery (the period known as RO4) are submitted no later than 06 December 2019. Participating employers will also need to have approved all on-service commitments created as part of the test activity, to ensure payment.

After 06 December 2019 we will cease all on-service commitments created as part of this testing phase. This will stop participating training providers from being paid on-service for any training delivered after 30 November 2019. To ensure providers continue to be paid for these apprenticeships, providers need to amend ILR data about the apprenticeships that were created as part of the test. We have written to all those taking part with the steps they need to take to put this in place.

Following the 06 December deadline, we will reduce participating training provider non-levy contracts for this financial year by the total amount of on-service payments received for apprenticeships created during the test phase, covering the period August - November 2019 (RO1-RO4). Training providers will be notified of the contract variation via ‘Manage your education and skills funding’, see

Transition and testing – next steps

We recently announced further details for smaller employers who do not pay the levy on accessing the apprenticeship service from 2020. As we move through the transition phase we will continue to test the apprenticeship service for employers that do not pay the apprenticeship levy and their associated training providers. This will be additional testing, therefore it is important that we take the steps described above to bring the current test to a close before we open the service more widely early next year.

For any queries, call the Apprenticeship Service on 0800 015 0600 or email [email protected]

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