Commenting ahead of the Chancellor’s speech at the Conservative Party Conference, Dr Adam Marshall, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said:

“Philip Hammond is setting the right mood music by highlighting that it is business that drives prosperity and growth for everyone. While businesses will welcome the Chancellor’s pro-enterprise tone, they will be looking to his upcoming Budget for concrete action to boost investment and confidence.

On the Chancellor’s announcements regarding apprenticeship reforms, Marshall said:

“We have spent months pushing ministers to make practical changes to the way the apprenticeship levy works, and the measures announced today are an important step in the right direction. However, the review announced by the Chancellor must introduce greater flexibility to the apprenticeship system, to ensure that businesses of all sizes can find and train the workforce they need.

“The Chancellor is right to heed our calls for large firms to be allowed transfer unused levy funds down to smaller firms in their supply chain, helping more SMEs to access high quality apprenticeships and close the growing skills gap. The government should go even further in the long-term, and allow levy-payers to transfer 50% of their funds, so that more companies in complex supply chains can train their people and boost productivity.

“Ministers also need to urgently address the issues faced by smaller firms, not just by the bigger levy-payers. SMEs may not be paying the levy, but they have faced higher recruitment costs and great difficult accessing the right training in recent months. Ending the 10% co-investment that SMEs now have to pay would encourage more firms to take on and train new talent.”

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