UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has unveiled a reform package aimed at enhancing apprenticeship opportunities and reducing administrative burdens for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).  

Starting from 1 April, the government will fully fund apprenticeships in small businesses for individuals aged up to 21 years old, covering the complete cost of training and thereby reducing expenses for businesses. 

This initiative is supported by an additional £60m of new government funding for the next year, ensuring that the demand for apprenticeships from businesses is met with adequate funding.  

From next month, the government will also increase the funding that employers paying the apprenticeship levy can transfer to other businesses.  

Currently, levy-paying employers can transfer up to 25% of their unused levy to another employer, but the new measures will allow for up to 50% to be transferred. 

These changes are expected to facilitate up to 20,000 more apprenticeships, primarily benefiting young people.  

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The reform is part of the UK Government’s post-Brexit deregulatory efforts to simplify both non-financial and financial reporting for SMEs, potentially saving businesses around £150m a year.  

The government is also raising the thresholds for determining a company’s size by 50%, which could benefit up to 132,000 businesses by exempting them from certain reporting requirements. 

Additionally, the government plans to establish a new industry-led Invest in Women task force to increase private investment in female business leaders.  

The task force’s primary goal is to create a bespoke funding pot for female-founded businesses and address the unique challenges faced by female entrepreneurs. 

Sunak said: “Whether it is breaking down barriers and red tape for small businesses, helping businesses hire more young people into apprenticeships and skilled jobs or empowering women to start up their own businesses – this government is sticking to the plan and leaving no stone unturned to make the UK the best place to do business.   

“Taken together, these measures will unlock a tidal wave of opportunity and make a real difference to businesses and entrepreneurs across the country.”