Are cracks appearing in the apprenticeship levy?

This year, 1 April presents a double whammy of a challenge to auto retailers. If communicating the complexities of the new VED changes to customers isn’t enough, you’ll also have to get to grips with the Government’s much-vaunted Apprenticeship Levy.

It’s ironic that neither initiative has been fully explained to those it will affect the most. Few businesses will likely be surprised by this, as such behaviour is par for the course when dealing with government-backed projects.

But it’s the Apprenticeship Levy that’s likely to focus the minds of auto retailers the most. This initiative, while a positive one in spirit, attaches a considerable amount of extra paperwork and, crucially, cost, to something that most progressive businesses were doing anyway.

Trainees and apprentices are the lifeblood of the industry when it comes to ensuring sufficient numbers of qualified staff are available to keep departments working. The added bureaucracy and expense associated with the scheme is unlikely to help, especially when other financial burdens are already impacting businesses, such post-Brexit economic uncertainties, national living wage and business rate hikes.

Now, if it was a truly awful scheme everyone would be up in arms by now. But, along with the extra financial burden, it’s the lack of detail and uncertainty surrounding its administration that’s causing a considerable amount of frustration.

In our April issue Auto Retail Bulletin interview with Vertu’s chief executive, Robert Forrester’s assessment of the scheme to date will no doubt chime with others in a similar position. Its cost to businesses plus a lack of detail and transparency from government present three critical ‘known unknowns’ as April is just around the corner. Just what you don’t need at a time of economic uncertainty and industry upheaval.

Iain Dooley | Editor
Auto Retail Network