The BMF has written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, ahead of his Spring Statement to Parliament to lobby for more flexibility in the rules governing the Apprenticeship Levy.

In its letter, the BMF urged Phillip Hammond (pictured) to use his Spring Statement to prepare for life after Brexit - and counteract predicted falls in employment levels and regional productivity.

John Newcomb, BMF Chief Executive, said: “Last week was National Apprenticeship Week. The BMF has been involved in the Apprenticeship Levy since his predecessor George Osborne announced it in his July 2015 Budget. As a direct consequence, we have established our own Apprenticeship Training Agency to make it easier for our SME members to take on new apprentices.

“Nearly 250 young men and women have begun - or will soon begin - a BMF Apprenticeship. However, employers struggle with the complexities of the scheme and we are asking the Chancellor for improvements”.

Newcomb’s letter asks how unspent Levy contributions will be used. There is a considerable sum of Levy money untouched by merchants and manufacturers obliged to pay it. The BMF wants ministers to reallocate this to businesses to enable them to hire more apprentices through the BMF’s Apprenticeship Training Agency.

It also reiterates that young learners often find it difficult to afford travel costs. It is not uncommon for apprentices to spend more than half their wages on travel. The worry is they pick an apprenticeship they can get to cheaply that may not be the correct choice for them. The BMF wants ministers to apply more flexibility to ease travel costs.