COMPANIES in York could get help to use their apprenticeship levy and encourage more people to take up apprenticeships.

The number of people starting apprenticeships in York is falling.

But companies continue to pay an apprenticeship levy - with businesses with annual pay bills of more than £3m paying a tax of 0.5 per cent of their total pay bill towards apprentice training.

And if the cash is not used in two years – it goes back to central government.

The number of apprentices fell by nearly a quarter across the Leeds city region in the last year according to the report – with a 20 per cent drop in people starting apprenticeships in York between 2017 and 2018.

Speaking at a City of York Council meeting, Cllr Stuart Barnes said York businesses need more support to help them make the best use of the apprenticeship options and that they should be invited to have their say on the challenges of using the money as part of a review.

He said: “They have the option of either contributing in the form of training apprentices, which I would argue brings real value to the city, or in paying the levy effectively to Whitehall, which sees some of that potential funding haemorrhage out of the city and not to anybody’s benefit.”

“Potentially from this piece of work there might be some very tangible benefits that could be gained by understanding what we’re currently losing in terms of opportunity and then looking at some practical measures t take some of the administrative pain out of the process for businesses.”

A council report says: “Apprenticeships and the higher skills they bring continue to be an asset to York’s economy, but the number of people starting apprenticeships is in decline across the Leeds City Region.”