The 2015 Autumn Statement - Key Points for Employment Specialists

Autumn Statement 2015

The spending Review and Autumn Statement has been sent to Parliament.

The apprenticeship levy.

One of the key points for employment practitioners is the introduction of the apprenticeship levy.

The aim is to have 3 million high quality apprenticeships by 2020. An apprenticeship levy will come into effect in April 2017 at a rate of 0.5% of an employer’s pay bill. A £15,000 allowance for employers will mean that the levy will only be paid on employer’s pay bills over £3 million. The levy will be paid through Pay As You Earn but all employers who do not pay the levy will be able to access government support for apprenticeships. Legislation to permit the imposition and collection of the apprenticeship levy will be introduced in the Finance Bill 2016.

The levy will apply across the UK but only employers in England will receive funds in their digital account to spend on apprenticeships(as training is a devolved policy) but the government states it will work with the Devolved Administrations to resolve the practical issues of implementation in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Further details are set out in the outcome to the consultation on the apprenticeship levy published at https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/479648/apprenticeship_levy_response_25112015.pdf

Other areas of interest to employment practitioners:

  • The government proposes new measures on tax avoidance, evasion and imbalances including penalties for serial avoidance and action on disguised remuneration schemes, to be introduced in the Finance Bill 2016.
  • The government has announced a ‘real terms increase’ in funding to help those with disabilities and health conditions return to and remain in work
  • A new Work and Health programme replacing the Work Programme and Work Choice which will provide specialist for the long-term unemployed and claimants with health conditions and disabilities
  • There will be more than £700 million investment in the courts and tribunals system to modernise and fully digitise the courts, moving from a paper-based to an online system,  ‘to create a swifter, more proportionate justice system’.
  • The proposed changes to tax credits have been scrapped. Tax credits will be phased out in any event as they will be replaced by universal credit.
  • The basic state pension will rise to £119.30 a week from April 2016and the full rate will be £155.65

The government has also published a policy paper setting out tax and tax credit rates and thresholds for 2016-2017 which includes NIC rates and fuel benefit charges. It is found at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/tax-and-tax-credit-rates-and-thresholds-for-2016-17/tax-and-tax-credit-rates-and-thresholds-for-2016-17