[Skip to content]

FM World logo
Text Size: A A A
17 July 2019
View the latest issue of FM
Sign up to Facilitate Daily >
FM World daily e-newsletter logo



Chancellor Philip Hammond has announced measures in the Spring Statement to help smaller businesses boost the uptake of apprentices – and also to reduce their energy bills.


01 April 2019 Herpreet Kaur Grewal

He said the Budget 2018 set out how the government is “accelerating the shift to a clean economy, building on the Industrial Strategy, Clean Growth Strategy, and 25 Year Environment Plan”. 

To build on these, the government is calling for evidence on a business energy-efficiency scheme to explore how it can support investment in energy-efficiency measures to reduce carbon emissions.

He also announced reforms to the apprenticeship system, saying that “from April 1st employers will see the co-investment rate they pay cut by a half from 10 per cent to 5 per cent, at the same time as levy-paying employers are able to share more levy funds across their supply chains, with the maximum amount rising from 10 per cent to 25 per cent”. 

Karen Jones, group HR director at Redrow, said she “warmly welcomes” the chancellor’s apprenticeships announcement to support more small businesses to take on apprentices. 

She added: “A significant 59 per cent of construction SMEs we asked in February said that this policy, when implemented, would lead to an increase in the number of apprentices employed in their business. Clearly, this move has the potential to boost apprenticeship numbers.

“There is still more the government can do to help. Crucially, the government should consider expanding the remit for what levy funds can be used for. Vital aspects of hiring an apprentice, such as wages, statutory licences to practice, travel and subsidiary costs, as well as the costs for setting up an apprenticeship programme, are all the burden of the SME business. Introducing this flexibility would significantly ease the financial load of the small businesses themselves.

“With their entrepreneurial streak, apprentices represent the future of SMEs in this country, so it’s vital that we help construction SMEs operating in the UK to take on and train more, and that industry and educators are providing rigorous information to young people which helps direct the right people on to the right apprenticeship.”

The government has appointed Professor Arindrajit Dube to undertake a review of the latest international evidence on minimum wages to inform future National Living Wage policy after 2020.

Sustainability challenge 

The UK Green Building Council also responded to the chancellor’s statement.

CEO Julie Hirigoyen said: “In the midst of a political storm, the chancellor has shown impressive leadership in focusing on the challenge of climate change and the importance of building sustainability into the heart of our economic model.

“We welcome the commitment to a Future Homes Standard by 2025 and new requirements for low carbon heat in new homes. It is vital that this is accompanied by truly world-leading energy efficiency standards, in line with the Committee on Climate Change’s recent recommendations.

“We also welcome the intention to mandate net gains for biodiversity on new developments in England in the upcoming environment bill. Our recent open letter to the chancellor, signed by leading construction and property businesses, highlighted the importance of this issue and their call for legally binding environmental targets.

But, she said, there remains a pressing need for plans to address the shortcomings of the existing building stock.  

Emma Potter