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Support & Guidance for employers during COVID-19:

Attached is a toolkit through the government found here that highlight the schemes and the campaign.

For small and medium-sized businesses, the new Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme is now available for applicants. This scheme, available here, will help any viable businesses with a turnover of up to £45m to access government-backed finance of up to £5m with the government covering up to 80% of any losses with no fees. Businesses can access the first six months of that finance interest free, as government will cover the first six months of interest payments. The scheme is available through more than 40 accredited lenders, which are listed on the British Business Bank website.

The Bank of England has also opened its new lending facility for larger firms, called the Covid Corporate Financing Facility. The scheme, available here, is a cost-effective way to raise working capital for companies experiencing severe disruption to cashflows. It is open to firms that can demonstrate they were in sound financial health prior to the coronavirus pandemic.

These support schemes sit alongside the announcement by the Chancellor on Friday of a Coronavirus Jobs Retention Scheme which will provide a grant to keep their workers on rather than make them redundant. Under this scheme, salaries will be paid at 80% of their current level – up to a maximum of £2,500 – and grants will be made available by the end of April. The scheme will be backtracked to March 1 and available for at least three months.

Other measures that may be of interest to you include:

  • For businesses with fewer than 250 employees, the cost of providing 14 days of Statutory Sick Pay per employee will be refunded by the government in full. This will provide two million businesses with up to £2 billion to cover the costs of large-scale sick leave.
  • A dedicated helpline to help businesses and self-employed individuals in financial distress and with outstanding tax liabilities receive support with their tax affairs. Through this, businesses may be able to agree a bespoke Time to Pay arrangement. If you are concerned about being able to pay your tax due to coronavirus, call HMRC’s dedicated helpline on 0800 0159 559.
  • A £10,000 cash grant to for the smallest businesses, delivered by local authorities. Small businesses that pay little or no business rates and are eligible for small business rate relief (SBBR) or rural rate relief will be contacted by their local authority – you do not need to apply. The funding will be provided to local authorities in early April. Guidance for local authorities on the scheme will be provided shortly.

Please do get in touch with us at tim@lancsforum.co.uk or BOOST Lancashire if you have any questions on this and we will do our best to ensure you receive the right information to help your business.

Lancashire’s Apprenticeship offer and how employers can benefit

Major apprenticeship reforms were implemented on 1st May 2017, presenting employers across Lancashire with a spectrum of fresh and innovative ways of training and upskilling their workforce.

Lancashire Work-Based Learning Executive Forum is made up of training providers, universities and colleges across the county and exists to support its members, employers, schools, parents and individuals in the world of apprenticeships and work based learning.

Lancashire Forum will be working in partnership with the Lancashire Skills and Employment Hub to support the growth of apprenticeships in Lancashire, supporting the Lancashire Apprenticeship Action plan to make this happen.

We are in the midst of changing times for employers and apprenticeships in Lancashire, and collectively we want to support employers to meet the needs of their workforce.  Through our members we enable employers to recruit, up-skill and provide quality training for Lancashire residents with Lancashire employers.

More than 10,000 businesses in the county benefit from offering Apprenticeships, research shows work-based learning boosts productivity, improves business performance and delivers a committed and competent workforce.

Employers operating Apprenticeship programmes also enjoy many additional benefits in relation to recruiting new apprentices and upskilling their current workforce:

  • Recruiting apprentices enables employers to fill skills gaps in their workforce as apprentices learn sector specific skills. This learning process starts on ‘day one’ and allows apprentices to develop specialist knowledge that enables employers to improve their bottom line performance.
  • There are also major benefits for existing staff. Employers are increasingly using Apprenticeship programmes to support staff development for their current workforce.

Lancashire Forum and its members, providers, universities and colleges are dedicated to enabling employers to make the most of recruiting and training apprentices in a number of ways.

Whether employers are looking to recruit new staff or upskill their existing workforce, support is readily available by sourcing high quality local training.

For further information on apprenticeships, the apprenticeship levy and any further information, click the picture below.

employers toolkit













To view the latest webinars and guidance video clips on apprenticeships and training, click the image below.

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The role of Lancashire Forum members in supporting employers

Lancashire Forum members can provide advice and guidance on all aspects of employing apprentices. Whether you’re taking on an apprentice for the first time or developing internal strategies to maximise your return on investment, our members can tailor their services to your specific needs.

Lancashire Forum members help employers to understand everything relating to Apprenticeships and the changes.

The current funding structure and payment schedules affect all employers and are initially technically complex. However, Lancashire Forum members can help employers to understand and handle these challenges. Employers with an annual pay bill of more than £3m will pay the Apprenticeship levy and can use these funds to pay for training. For other employers and those who have used all their levy funds, funding and payment depends on the age of the apprentice. In some cases training is free, but in others the employer must contribute 5% of the cost.

Small and medium employers will be able to access Government ‘co-investment’ funding through a digital account that must be set up prior to agreeing any apprenticeship training with a provider.  The Government will pay 95% of the cost of Apprenticeship training with the employer contributing the other 5% (100% for all apprentices aged between 16 and 18 at the start of the apprenticeship).  Employers will receive a £1,000 incentive payment for each apprentice you employ who is aged 16-18, in addition to the incentives available until the 31st March 2021 put in place to support employment and skills growth required resulting from the pandemic.  

Lancashire Forum members will also provide clarity and explain to employers how apprenticeship standards (qualifications) work on the ground. How the programme will be delivered is another important area that employers will need advice on. Once an Apprentice is recruited, training providers, universities and colleges can agree with the employer on the best delivery programme, including all on and off the job training. The reforms have changed how training is delivered, with the Forum and its members positioned to offer help and support with the design and delivery of an Apprenticeship programme that best suits individual employers and employees. Members also advise on how Apprentices will be assessed and supported throughout their programme. Contact tim@lancsforum.co.uk to arrange further support. 

Clearly employers must keep a sharp focus on running a profitable business, the Forum members recognise that planning and arranging training must be managed on top of business and operational commitments. Employers will be provided with a named representative who delivers flexible support for employers’ Apprenticeship training, from start to finish.

This includes help with tackling: skills shortages; succession planning; design of a company’s Apprenticeship programme; and improvements to bottom line performance.  Provider, university and college staff will also help with supporting the individual within their new role and the achievement of their Apprenticeship, especially those who are younger and may be new to the world of work.

Recruitment can be very challenging for employers. They must not only find the right person, but also the time to interview and select. Local training providers, universities and colleges can assist employers with the recruitment process as they have a bank of applicants looking for Apprenticeship vacancies. The training provider, university or college can advise on initial selection and can carry out shortlisting to enable the employer to make their final selection cost-effective and efficient.

For details of how to set up your apprenticeship service account, follow the link below.

If your organisation, including any connected companies or charities, has an annual pay bill of more than £3 million you will pay the apprenticeship levy. If you pay the levy and want to employ an apprentice you’ll need to:

  • create an account
  • add organisations
  • link your PAYE schemes
  • invite members of your team to use the service

In most, if not all cases you will access funding through a government online apprenticeship account that the Lancashire Forum or your chosen apprenticeship provider can offer full support to do this. 

Disability Confident Committed

Disability Confident aims to change the way that employers think about disability and helping to encourage them to improve the recruitment and development of disabled people.

Justin Tomlinson, Minister of State for Disabled People, Health and Work said:

“Disability Confident can help you recruit, retain and develop disabled people who will help your business to succeed. The Disability Confident badge will also show disabled people that you recognise the value they can bring to your business – putting you ahead in the search for talent.
Every business trying to stay ahead of their competitors should aim to take advantage of the huge amount of talent disabled people can bring. I say that as an employer myself, not just as a Minister. Before I became an MP, my own business benefited from the confidence to recruit disabled people, and the confidence, where necessary, to make often small changes to enable them to thrive at work.
Wherever there is a barrier, Government is absolutely committed to removing it. We want a system that works for everyone, including small businesses that are the backbone of our economy. That is why Disability Confident is so important. It was deliberately designed to be easy for small businesses to access at level 1 and 2, whilst being flexible enough to also help the very biggest businesses to improve.
With disabled employment at an all-time high we are heading in the right direction, but we are ambitious to do more. With your help we can ensure that every disabled person has the opportunity to succeed at work and every business has the opportunity to prosper”.

For more information on how to become a Disability Confident employer, click on the “disability confident employer pack” under resources.

Click here to contact the Forum for independent, impartial advice.