SME funding & Additional payments

Apprenticeships for SME employers

SME employers developing tomorrow's digital talent

SME employers developing tomorrow's digital talent

Non-levy funding:

The non-levy funding information on this page is for SME employers who have an annual payroll below £3,000,000. If your payroll is above £3,000,000, you are a levy-paying employer and funding is different and you should visit our Levy funding pages.

Funding for non-levy apprenticeships can be quite complex if you still have questions after reading this page,  please contact us.

About SME apprenticeship funding

Apprenticeships funding for SME employers  is potentially quite complex, but at NowSkills we have many years of experience and we have all the answers you need.

From 1st April 2021, all apprentice employers must be registered on the government’s Digital Apprenticeship Service, this is your fist stop, we can’t work with you until you have set up your account, and we can help you. Here, we have created a page dedicated to the Digital Apprenticeship Service

All employers with a payroll above £3,000,000 pay a 0.5% levy and they access apprenticeship funding differently. If you don’t pay the 0.5% levy, then this page is relevant to your organisation.


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 If you recruit apprentices aged 16, 17 or 18 when they are enrolled, and you have fewer than 50 employees, training costs are 100% funded.

If you recruit an apprentice who is 19 years or older when they are enrolled, or you have 50 employees or more, then you will have to pay a 5% co-investment, and you will receive 95% funding.

You can pay the 0.5% co-investment in direct debit instalments, please ask us for details. The ESFA funding rules require employers to make a 5% co-investment and we cannot discount or offset it. 

You will have to pay your apprentice’s wages through your PAYE scheme. Here are minimum wage rates, however, 90% of our employers pay above the minimum wage, such as the competition for talented apprentices.

If you recruit apprentices with us, we do not charge a fee for our recruitment service, and we receive hundreds of application every month. You can also enrol your own employees.

We are proud to work with leading employers:

How much do levy and non-levy employers pay

Apprenticeship Standard 1

Can you offer us flexible payment terms for our 5% co-investment?

Yes, when you receive your invoice, please ask our finance department to set up a direct debit plan over 10 months.

Apprentice’s Wages

Apart from training costs, whether that is funded or not you will also need to pay your apprentice’s wages. An apprentice must be employed for a minimum of 30 hours per week. You can pay more than the minimum, most employers do.

Tax Relief on Apprentice’s Wages

If you employ an apprentice under the age of 25, you may no longer have to pay employer Class 1 National Insurance contributions on their earnings up to the new Apprentice Upper Secondary Threshold.

What about employer Additional Payments, incentives and grants?

Both levy paying and non-levy SME employers can claim a £1,000 Additional Payment when they employ an apprentices aged 16, 17 or 18 when they enrol. £500 is eligible after 3 months, and a further £500 is eligible after 365 days. 

The government pays additional incentives from time to time and we will inform you of these when they are released.

We are proud to work with leading employers:

We’re here to support you

At NowSkills, we’re here to support employers. Please contact our Employer Engagement Team using one of the following methods:

Phone: 0345 556 4170 or complete our contact form here.