Leading care sector professional urges LCR employers to claim extra funding to boost regional skills

Care industry professional, academic and thought leader, Dr Louise May is urging LCR employers to claim extra apprenticeship funds to boost care skills in the region. Liverpool City Region is facing a shortage of qualified care workers, yet millions of unspent funds available now for vital training will be returned to the treasury if they go unclaimed. Representing a huge potential cost saving for SMEs, these funds have been donated by larger employers through the Liverpool City Region (LCR) apprenticeship levy pledge.

Increased demand for qualified care workers

Dr May, who has a PhD in nursing, runs Crystal Care, providing qualified staff for care homes and day centres, as well as delivering private domiciliary care. As an employer of local people, Dr May is dedicated to building the skills and confidence of her staff so they excel personally and professionally. But like many across the country, her company has been facing a skilled staff shortage. Working with specialist apprenticeship provider Dianthas Ltd, Dr May has been able to access the additional apprenticeship funding to boost her organisation’s skill levels and meet the increased demand for qualified care workers.

The LCR apprenticeship levy pledge is premised on the fact that employers with an annual salary bill of more than £3m pay an apprenticeship levy, which is set aside to fund apprenticeships for their staff. However, if they don’t use these funds within 24 months, the Treasury collects them. It is estimated that since May 2017 over £3.3b of unused levy funding has been recovered nationally. 

Funds donated to SMEs by levy payers

The good news is that levy-paying employers can donate up to 25% of their unspent funds to SMEs who would otherwise pay 5% of apprenticeship training costs. In the health and social care sector, this 5% employer contribution can be anything up to £350 per apprentice. So, for an SME who wants to recruit and train several adult care worker apprentices, the savings are significant. 

The LCR Combined Authority (LCR CA) employer brokerage team has developed a mechanism for channelling unspent local levy funding into training more apprentices in the region. Dr May is one of 86 employers who have so far benefitted from this levy donorship initiative in the Liverpool City Region.

Jobs for local people

Sharon Blaney, LCR CA employment and skills officer says:

“The aim is to retain as much levy funding as possible locally. In this way, we hope to help employers in key sectors such as health and social care address skills shortages and boost job opportunities for local people.”

Dr Louise May says:

“This levy donorship initiative is a win for employers like me who can now develop more skilled carers at no cost. We were lucky enough to receive funding from Arrowe Park NHS Hospital’s levy donation. The process for accessing funding has been quick and simple thanks to the LCR employer brokerage team’s ongoing support.

“It’s a bonus that I can choose which apprenticeship provider to work with. Dianthas is a very professional training provider, with an ethos to match our own. In other words, they genuinely care about bringing out the best in our apprentices and supporting them to reach their full potential. As a result, our apprentices’ confidence is boosted and this is reflected in the high standard of care they deliver to our clients.”

Funding boost for health and social care sector

Joe Keegan LCR CA Employer Brokerage Manager added: “We are always pleased to hear that employers find the process quick and simple. To date we have facilitated £3.7 m of levy transfer with approximately 70% funding employers in the health & social care sector. We would welcome and encourage more employers who either have levy to share, or who have an interest in receiving levy transfer, to get in touch so that our brokers can discuss funding opportunities available to them.”

Crystal Care has so far accessed additional funding for four additional health and social care apprenticeships: two at level 3 and two at level 4. The cost saving means Dr May has been able to offer additional short CPD courses to her staff as well as invest in the development of her organisation’s corporate social responsibility programme. This includes a project in association with the Wirral Multicultural Organisation to recruit and train care professionals from minority ethnic groups.

Health and social care employers who want to address skills shortages in their organisation can find out more about accessing transferred levy funds.

Find out more about apprenticeships and other training from Dianthas.