The Apprenticeship Levy: a new tax or an opportunity to find and nurture talent? For professional services firms, the consideration will be whether this is an operational burden or a chance to broaden their training programmes for future prosperity.
Since the Levy came into force in England in April 2017, all employers with a pay bill exceeding £3m a year (on all earnings that are liable to Class 1 NICs) must now invest 0.5% of that figure in apprenticeships. However, as a sweetener, the scheme comes with a £15,000 offset allowance every tax year, so some firms will effectively pay nothing and receive funding for training.
Use it or lose it
The scheme funding for firms is managed through the Digital Apprenticeship Service online account, with the Levy calculated, reported and paid on a monthly basis to HMRC through the PAYE process (alongside tax and NICs). This money, paid into the account by firms, can then be spent on any qualifying apprenticeship training. But with this money having a 24-month shelf-life, firms are forced to ‘use it or lose it’.
However, there is a rapidly growing roster of official apprenticeship schemes (over 200) covering a wide range of sectors to choose from – although, naturally, there are rules about how the Levy funding can be spent:
Accounting for success
The Government has a target to reach three million new apprenticeships by 2020. It also wants to improve training quality, arguing that the new regime will form the bedrock of a new and sustainable workforce. This will not only bridge the UK-wide skills gap that is affecting many industries, but also reach out to a broader cross-section of people and drive true diversity in the workplace.
Upgrading not deleting
The market has traditionally been focused on level two and three apprenticeships – equivalent to GCSE and A-Level standards respectively – in sectors such as construction and hospitality. And while the Government is keen to maintain this, the scheme is now establishing new apprenticeships in areas such as accounting and cyber. So the levy now has more breadth of coverage and flexibility and the new financial dynamics of the Levy are intended to drive more employers towards the higher levels, pitched at graduates and beyond.
And the breadth of scope in the new apprenticeships for businesses that may, for example, be considering the return they get from their graduate schemes, holds genuine possibilities. Levy funds can be used to create learning programmes to fit the outcomes that businesses had been seeking through existing executive education programmes.
If cost has been an issue with these older schemes, within the Levy framework, companies can submit claim backs for each level of qualification. The higher levels (up to seven) attract up to £29,000.
Consider the full talent lifecycle
The Levy represents an opportunity.
Perhaps the traditional graduate programme could in part be dissolved into the apprenticeship scheme. Employers could use the Levy to fund degrees for their apprentices in order to give them an alternative route to qualifications whilst simultaneously providing them with work experience in the business world.
Interestingly, the Levy is effectively creating a new market where a number of business schools and universities are launching apprenticeships to meet professional needs. Programme flexibility also allows firms to build or even sell their own accredited courses. Having more control over content than in general education ensures that companies have training resources that suit their needs. And high-flyers who are funded and supported throughout their development are more likely to stay on-board.
A fresh approach
The view that the apprenticeships can create advantage is shared by Mike Thompson, Head of Early Careers at Barclays. Thompson, a member of the Government’s apprenticeship delivery panel representing the financial services sector, has helped drive Barclays’ own approach as part of its quest for employee diversity.
Indeed, with the Apprenticeship Levy, Barclays has been able to move away from the restrictions of the old scheme (it was, for example, only available to the 16 to 24 age group). The bank had acknowledged some time ago that its employee demographics did not represent its customers and it needed people with more and varied life skills. The flexibility of the new apprenticeship allows it to consider anyone of any age, at any level. “It makes a huge difference to us,” notes Thompson.
Strength through diversity
The Levy has certainly helped Barclays to tap into a rich, underutilised vein of talent. With employment among the over 50s rising, for example, Barclays launched a tailored recruitment programme. Using the advantages of the Levy, it is bringing valuable skills – both professional and personal – back into the workplace.
Even with its diversity count heading “in the right direction”, Thompson says that Barclays is aiming higher on diversity, and has introduced a pilot ‘Able to Enable’ internship to help people with mental health issues back into the workplace.
By not dodging the difficult issues and by leveraging the Levy, Thomson says the bank has on-boarded some highly intelligent and motivated employees who might otherwise remain unemployed.
Employee retention and progress are key goals too. Thompson sees the wider apprenticeship scheme as an enabler for reskilling in the workplace. “We have tried as much as possible to innovate and use the freedom that the Government has given us to introduce and keep hold of talent,” he reports. Furthermore, by working through the Levy with leading and diverse providers such as Manchester Metropolitan University, The Chartered Institute of Marketing, and Google, Barclays is assuring a whole new set of skills for its employees and, ultimately, putting itself in the strongest of competitive positions. “It has been a huge win for us,” says Thompson.
Working on it
There is work still to be done to change the perception of apprenticeships as one of low level attainment, Thompson admits. While it is a job for schools to introduce the idea to students, he says, the more that professional businesses espouse the idea, the more credibility it will gain, not least with smaller firms who must come on board for it to succeed in the longer term.
So, the Levy can help pave the way. As university fees remain an issue for many students, employers offering a formal career path to them for free looks very attractive indeed. While new apprenticeships don’t signal the end for traditional graduate schemes, they will continue to secure strong talent that might otherwise fall under the radar and that is to everyone’s benefit
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President of Bristol Law Society, Becky Moyce at their Annual Dinner and Awards Ceremony Since my last review, the shops are full of ghoulish masks, fireworks and Christmas cards. It is difficult to believe that I am now over halfway through my year as your President. Business has certainly picked up a fast pace since the summer break and over the last few weeks the focus has been very much on the promotion of our 2018 Dinner and Legal Awards. We held our launch event at Somerset County Cricket Club which was attended by sponsors, and potential sponsors, nominators and nominees and our media partners Trinity Mirror South West. Mark Ollier, Partner at Beviss & Beckingsale, last year’s winners of the Law Firm of the Year Award (1-10 partners) spoke with passion and enthusiasm about the positive impact of their award on their firm, its staff and current and new clients. Following his hugely motivational words, I’m sure everyone in the room was inspired to submit an awards entry. Thank you Mark. The launch event was a great platform to highlight the extensive coverage that those associated with the Awards have received, and will continue to receive, in the run up to the evening on Thursday 1st March 2018. With a flood of high calibre entrants this year, I am sure the judges will face a challenging time in shortlisting those nominated. I wish you all success and am certain that those shortlisted will be thoroughly deserving of their selection. As the Brexit talks and processes progress and continue to divide opinion, it remains important to show the rest of Europe that we are open for business. Whatever your view, the changing times we live in make our profession’s reputation, its integrity, fairness and independence as crucial as ever. I hope that the “Pride in the Profession” promoted by The Law Society will continue to be a key theme for you as we move towards our exit from the European Union and that our relationships with our European professional colleagues will not be diminished. We continue to work hard to promote what solicitors do, raising the profile of solicitors, and DASLS members in particular, to members of the public. As well as promoting the Awards we have also now launched our new look website. I hope you have had an opportunity to visit it, but if not please take a look at https://www.dasls.com/. We will also be shortly reviewing our Strategic Plan to ensure it meets the needs of our members for the future. If you have any feedback on any areas of our marketing or suggestions for the review, please get in touch with Tony Steiner. I have attended a number of representative engagements during the past couple of months including the Joint Professions' Networking Group event when we heard a very interesting talk by the Chief Executive of Exeter Airport. I was privileged to represent DASLS at the Plymouth Law Society’s Annual Dinner and Bristol Law Society’s Awards and Dinner. I feel it would be remiss of me not to mention a very touching tribute at the Bristol Dinner to Bristol District Judge Julie Exton who died at the age of 59. Julie was described in the Law Society Gazette as “without doubt a stellar example of how we lawyers should conduct ourselves. She was a great asset to the judiciary and is now a great loss to the profession”. I attended for the first time the Past Presidents’ dinner (in training for next year!) and enjoyed a very pleasant evening at the Ilsington Country House Hotel. It is a tribute to DASLS that Past Presidents continue to remain interested in its activities and reassuring for Presidents that they continue to read and enjoy our reviews! I have also attended the Contentious Business and International Relations Sub-Committees and seen first-hand the incredible work that is undertaken by members of those Sub-Committees on behalf of our members. Further meetings of the Vice-President’s and Non-Contentious Business Sub-Committe...
It is again the time of year when we invite members of the Society to help DASLS by seeking to join the main Committee and help with the Committee’s work. The main Committee is at the heart of the work and decision making of the Society and also helps to co-ordinate the important work of the many Sub-Committees. As a result membership of the main Committee can make a real difference to the Society and to the working life of solicitors across our two counties. The Committee is made up of the Officers of the Society together with (according to the Articles) “not less than 10 or more than 40 elected members”. In order to continue the effective work of the Committee new members are needed, and therefore nominations are requested. If you would like any further information please do not hesitate to contact me. If you would like to either be nominated or nominate someone for election please complete the form below. This form should please be returned to me by no later than 5.30pm on 31 January 2018. The election will take place at the 24th April 2018 AGM. TO: Chris Hart DASLS Honorary Secretary Aston Court, Pynes Hill, Exeter EX2 5AZ [DX 8361 Exeter] I wish to nominate Full name …………………………………………………………………… of …………………………………………………………………… for election to the main Committee and I confirm that the nominee is willing for his/her name to go forward. Signed …………………………………………………………….. Address …………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… Year of Admission of Nominee ……………………….. Please return this form by 31 January 2018....
Photograph courtesy of Bridget Batchelor Photography, bridgetbatchelor.com 20 recently qualified solicitors were welcomed into the Solicitors’ Profession on Monday 9 October at the Guildhall in Exeter. ...
Dear All, This year really is flying by. I have just had my birthday. After updating you previously on the excellent catch up I had with the Law Society CEO Paul Tennant on his visit to the south west last November, I had not expected to be back in touch with him quite so soon. Sadly, this time it was in less happy circumstances. I was, like many of you, shocked and saddened in January to hear the news and see the pictures of the substantial fire at Chancery Lane in London. I have emailed Paul Tennant and James Shepherd, our Law Society Relationship Management Executive, to send our best wishes and we are hoping that the building will be back to full use very soon. As I write this report, preparations are in full swing for the 2020 DASLS Legal Awards & Dinner. As you know the Annual Dinner is being held again this year at Exeter Cathedral. The event is to take place on the 30th April 2020. After the success of last year, we are hoping that once again the event is sold out which would mean we will have around 480 people attending. If you have not done so already, please contact Llew Nicholls and the team at our Awards partners ‘Grow Marketing’ who have worked very hard alongside our very own Tony and Monique to achieve full sponsorship of this event. You can contact Llew to book the remaining places by emailing Llew directly at Llew@growmarketinguk.com. There have been more nominations than ever before with more entries making the short list. Please do not miss this dazzling occasion. You will all have received DASLS latest 2020 training courses programme. Tony Steiner and the team have worked hard to arrange these events. You will see that as members you get preferential rates and if appropriate reduced rates for multiple attendees from your firms. Please take advantage of these services as a proportion of the monies do go to support our Society’s broad continuing education offering. If I do not see you individually before I look forward to catching up with you at the 2020 DASLS Legal Awards and Annual Dinner in April. With very best wishes Nigel Lyons President 2019-2020...
The first big social event of the year was the annual DASLS Quiz which is the grand finale of the Challenge Cup. It is an event I thoroughly enjoy and I make no apology for making it a bit challenging. This year did not disappoint there being just ½ point between first and second place and resulting in joint winners of the Challenge Cup. Congratulations to Ashfords and Michelmores both of whom knew that the study of birds’ eggs is Oology. The next Challenge Cup kicks off with the usual Skittles match in Dawlish when the magnificent Skittles Cup will be contested. The latest meeting of the County Societies Group took place in February when we were guests of the SRA in Birmingham. DASLS Deputy Vice-President Adrian Richards and I attended. We were welcomed by their Chief Executive Paul Philip who set out some key messages around SRA activity emphasising their desire for light touch engagement with solicitors and good channels of communication. He said that the SRA was working well with The Law Society and was focused on creating an environment where solicitors could be innovative and use the latest in technology. AML is a key area of activity and following the appointment of the new Chair, Anna Bradley, they are working to provide better customer care. He also explained that until now the SRA had not taken any position on issues such as Access to Justice, Rule of Law and Advice Deserts. They were considering looking at, and taking a position on, one or two of these issues each year. There followed several presentations by senior staff at the SRA dealing with Enforcement Strategy and reporting concerns; Customer information – Transparency Rules and clickable logo.; the SQE and Anti-Money Laundering. Comprehensive slides were produced to accompany each presentation which I will forward together with my notes to any member who wishes to see them. Just email me —email@example.com. There followed an interesting tour of the building. SRA have around 600 staff members with the majority based over three floors at the Cube. The next meeting of the County Societies Group will be in the summer and we also plan a Parliamentary Liaison event at Westminster later in the year. I am pleased to announce that DASLS has two new Partners; Moneypenny who look after your telephone calls when you are not available and Dictate Now who offer Dictation Systems and outsourced document preparation. They join our current Partners: Alchemy; PKF Francis Clark; Landmark; Lockton; Unoccupied Direct; WebBoss and Wessex Searches. We are thankful for the support our partners give us and encourage you to use them where you can. Depending when you read this our joint event with the Legal Sustainability Alliance on 5th March will be about to take place or will have passed. Regular readers will know that the Society has formed a small working party to encourage and identify how firms can improve their sustainability. The main Committee have suggested that this forms a Sub-Committee. We will arrange a meeting of the working party after the event on the 5th March with a view to progressing this. Anyone who is interested in this please let me know. Tony Steiner, Executive Director DASLS....
You may know that DASLS is fortunate to be twinned with Bilbao, Erlangen, Gdańsk, Leuven, Rennes and Verona. Such twinning arrangements underpin a sense that we belong to one community of values on the basis that these relationships are based on reciprocity. Each year, we meet to discuss and debate important legal issues of the day, whilst discovering the cultures and languages of our partners. 2020 is DASLS turn to host such an event, which will be rounded off with the Sunday Legal Service at Exeter Cathedral on 7 June 2020 and to which DASLS members are cordially invited! The subject of our conference (on 5 June at County Hall in Exeter) will be around the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) in the sphere of human rights. Rather than understanding AI in terms of a terrifying post-apocalyptic vision of a world controlled by robots, AI features in our everyday lives from Alexa and smart home devices to controversial facial recognition technologies and even Uber! AI is built by lines of code called algorithms. Put simply, an algorithm is a step by step method of solving a problem and is commonly used for data processing and calculation. However, the use of automated data processing techniques in public and private sectors, especially by internet platforms and its impact on the exercise of human rights is somewhat of a hot topic. When it comes to AI, there is a focus on the usage of huge datasets. AI bias means when an algorithm produces results that may be prejudiced due to erroneous assumptions in the machine learning process and the data used to train the algorithm by data scientists. Bias runs deep in humans and it can be unconscious in nature. AI systems are created by individuals who have their own unique experiences and blind spots all of which can lead to fundamentally biased systems. This issue is compounded by the fact that those responsible for AI (including its deployment and training) may not be representative of society. Accordingly, unfair treatment of a group can result from the use of an algorithm to support decision making whether that decision relates to criminal sentencing, loan applications or self-driving cars. The language of AI is undoubtedly complex, but it is drastically changing the way we live. Understanding AI and its implications in the context of its growth is important so that we are all better placed to push companies to develop new technologies both ethically and responsibly. If you would like to receive more information once the June 2020 programme is finalised, please contact Monique Bertoni at DASLS office – firstname.lastname@example.org . Emma Mitcham Chair, International Relations Sub-Committee...
New AML Regulations and the pursuit of the beneficial owner. Introduction The new Money Laundering & Terrorist Finance (Amendment) Regulations 2019 which came into force on 10 January have modified a number of aspects of the 2017 AML Regulations, with which we have been complying for some time. However, many firms’ procedures hark back to the earlier days of the 2007 Regulations and have not been modified or updated much over recent years. This article seeks to set out what the new Regulations in fact require, and the steps we should be taking in relevant cases. The Policy It has been true for some time that the ultimate aim of all the regulatory rules is transparency – it has always been the case that the use of artificial structures such as trusts, companies, bearer shares, foundations and charities – whilst perfectly legal – have to some extent also benefitted from the extra anonymity they offer to the true owner and recipient of the funds and services we provide. If we offer services to these types of entity, the Regulations require us to go some way to identifying the individuals who are actually benefitting from our services, and this entails uncovering the true ownership of the organisation. Whilst this would be difficult in many instances – Cayman Island companies with bearer shares, for example – we must nevertheless attempt to get some assurances from the creators of the companies, accountants or registrars as to the ownership of the shares, and have some way of being notified of any change in ownership. We also need to be aware of the PEP and Sanctions status of these individuals. Further, for UK companies, the PSC Regulations 2016 impose an exactly similar obligation on the companies themselves to identify their beneficial owners and notify Companies House of any shareholder with 25% or more of the shares or exercising control over management of the business. The Regulations The Regulations provide that we must, as part of our CDD procedures Identify the client – this means coming to know who they are, by name and some other characteristic, e.g. address, date of birth, date of incorporation Verify that identity – by means of reliable and independent data and documentation Identify the beneficial owner (if the client is an entity) – though not necessarily verifying that identity Identify and verify the identity of the person actually instructing us (if not already done). What this means for us When acting for a COMPANY (that is not a listed company) the Regulations require us to obtain Details of the company as registered (which must be proven by a copy of the register entries available from Companies House or equivalent registry) – name, number, registered office address, principal place of business the law to which it is subject details of its governing documentation (its memorandum) names of the directors. Names of any beneficial owners, and the identity of any individual owners of legal entities which own the client Names and verification of the persons instructing us on behalf of the company, and their authority to do so. Note that we cannot rely on the information provided by the company under the PSC Regulations but we must undertake our own research in order to fulfil our CDD duties. Further, if as part of that research, we discover that the Companies House data on PSC’s is incorrect, then we are now under a further obligation to notify the Registrar of Companies of this fact. We also need to establish that PEPs and Sanctions checks are also undertaken. If genuinely positive entries are revealed in response we should undertake enhanced CDD steps or cease to act, accordingly. Electronic searches are a permissible avenue to use provided the search provider can offer us the necessary assurances that the person actually claiming an identity is IN FACT that person. Check also whether ...
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