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Industry leaders call on George Osborne to make apprenticeship levy fair

Fifteen recruitment industry leaders have joined the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) to call for the Chancellor to amend the apprenticeship levy to ensure it doesn’t unfairly discriminate against temporary workers and contractors.

The payroll tax, likely to come into effect in April 2017, requires employers to pay 0.5% of all their payroll expenses to fund the government’s commitment to deliver 3m new apprenticeships. However, the REC and its members – including the CEOs of Randstad, Hays and Pertemps – argue that recruiters’ payroll includes the wages they pay to temporary agency workers who do not work in the recruitment industry and are, due to the average length of their assignments, unlikely to ever qualify for a quality apprenticeship. Less than 5% of all assignments last for 52 weeks or more, the REC says.

REC chief executive, Kevin Green, said, “The current proposal is inherently unfair. We support apprenticeships and have created one for the recruitment industry. We’re simply asking George Osborne to be reasonable, and to only require recruiters to pay the levy on their own permanent, substantive staff who work in recruitment, not the millions of agency workers who don’t work in their businesses but are placed into assignments in all the other sectors of the UK economy.

“Over one third of adults in Great Britain work as a contractor, freelancer or agency worker at some point in their careers. The government needs to recognise that it is a mainstream part of the labour market and work with us to build ways for people to work flexibly without sacrificing access to training and development. The first step would be not to impose this unfair levy on recruiters which will limit their ability to fund the training of temps and contractors. We and our members are keen to work with government to find solutions.”

The letter is signed by:

Kevin Green, CEO, Recruitment & Employment Confederation

Mark Bull, CEO, Randstad UK

Karen Colfer, VP & managing director UK & Ireland, Kelly Services

Alistair Cox, CEO, Hays plc

Steve Ingham, CEO, Page Group

Greg Latham, managing director, Encore Personnel

Therese Liddle, CEO, NRG plc

Mark Manaton, CEO, Blue Arrow

Mark Mitchell, CEO, Meridian Business Support

Gary Pinchen, CEO, CIP Recruitment Services Ltd

Paul Ross, CEO, Barker Ross Group

Andrew Sweeney, CEO, The Best Connection Group

Amanda Watson, managing director, Ambitions Personnel

Tim Watts, chairman, Pertemps Network Group

Jennifer Wrightson, managing director, Just Recruitment

John Marshall, CEO of Adecco UK & Ireland

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