From January 2017, Levy paying employers can establish an online account with the Digital Apprenticeship Service (DAS) to access their training funding. The service will essentially give employers the power to take control over their own Apprenticeship training. Non-levy paying employers can expect to create an account from 2018. Here are some useful answers to help you understand more about DAS.

What is the Digital Apprenticeship Service (DAS)?

Once an employer has paid their levy to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) they will be able to access funding for Apprenticeships through an online service account.

The money will be in the form of digital vouchers to pay for the training and assessment for Apprentices. The service will also help employers find training providers to help them develop and deliver the apprenticeship programme.

How does an employer create an account?

Online tools for employers will be available via the DAS over the next year. Employers will be able to register to create an account from January 2017.

Levy-paying employers will be able to use the service to pay for the training and assessment of apprentices from April 2017. When registered, employers will need to verify PAYE schemes and link them to their account.

When will funds appear in an employer’s account?

Funds will appear in their digital accounts monthly, a few working days after the employer confirms their pay bill and levy contribution to HRMC for the previous month. This means that the first time they will see any funds in their digital account will be late May 2017.

How long will funds last for in a digital account?

Funds will expire 18 months after they enter an employer’s digital account. For example, funds entering an employer’s account in September 2017 will expire in March 2019.

The account will work on a first-in, first-out basis, through either payment or expiry. Whenever a payment is taken from an employer’s digital account it will automatically use the funds that entered the digital account first. This will minimise the amount of expired funds.

The digital account will let an employer know when their funds are due to expire.

Can vouchers in a digital account be transferred to another employer?

Some employers may want to use funds in their digital account to pay for the Apprenticeship training of another employer’s apprentices, for example, someone in their supply chain.

Further information, including the pros and cons of any approach, including the trade-offs with other design choices, will be provided in June 2016.

Can a digital account be pooled with the same organisation’s businesses?

If employers are in a group of companies connected for the purposes of paying the levy, the group will be able to collect their funds together into one digital account. This will be achievable by registering to have multiple PAYE schemes attached to a single digital account.

Employers that are not connected will not be able to pool funds in a digital account.

Using funds in your digital account to buy training ...

After taking on an Apprentice, monthly payments will be automatically taken from an employer’s digital account and sent to the provider. This spreads the cost over the lifetime of the apprenticeship.

When buying apprenticeship training through the digital apprenticeship service, employers don’t need to have enough funds in their digital account to cover the entire cost of the training at the start. As payments are taken from the digital account monthly, employer’s only need to have enough funds in their account to cover the monthly cost of each apprenticeship chosen.

In April 2017, these payments will be made monthly. In future, we the aim is for more flexibility over the way payments leave an employer’s digital account.

If an employer chooses not to use their digital account to buy apprenticeship training, they will need to buy it directly from a training provider following the same process as employers who do not pay the levy (below).

Can a non-levy paying employer use a DAS account?

Smaller employers who do not pay the levy will not get a digital account until 2018 but will be part of the new funding system which involves co-investment. Employers will negotiate and agree a price with the training provider from an approved register. This price will cover the delivery of apprenticeship training towards a specific standard or framework, and the cost of assessing the apprentice at the end of their apprenticeship.

Co-investment means that the employer and the government each pay some of the money to the provider. There will be a rate set each year, for the proportion of the money that an employer needs to pay and the proportion the government will pay (link to Funding page).

The employer payment, plus the government contribution, cannot total more than the maximum allowed by the funding band for the standard or framework chosen.

If the price with a provider that is more than the maximum funding band, then the employer must pay the difference between the band maximum and the agreed price.

Digital Apprenticeship Service summary…

Whether you pay the levy or not, the digital apprenticeship service will help you to:

  • select an apprenticeship framework or standard
  • choose the training provider or providers you want to deliver the training
  • choose an assessment organisation
  • post apprenticeship vacancies

From April 2017, if you pay the levy you will also be able to:

  • see the funds you have available to spend in England
  • set the price you’ve agreed with your training provider
  • pay for apprenticeship training and assessment through the digital apprenticeship service

By 2020, all employers will be able to use the digital apprenticeship service to pay for training and assessment for apprenticeships.

More Information

The answers to some of these question may change over time as more detail becomes available and as the new delivery and funding rules are released.
For more information on how the Digital Apprenticeship Service will affect your business, and to see how ROI Solutions can help, contact our team of Business Relationship Managers on 01772 22 55 77 or email training@roisolutions.ac.uk.