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Apprentices: Low Incomes

Question for Department for Education

UIN 142932, tabled on 10 May 2018

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether his Department plans to make low income apprentices with children eligible for the (a) Care to Learn Scheme and (b) Childcare Grant.

Answered on

18 May 2018

One of the core principles of an apprenticeship is that it is a paid job with training, allowing apprentices to earn while they learn, and it is treated accordingly in the benefit system. Apprentices are not required to pay for their training or assessment.

A young person on an apprenticeship will receive at least the apprentice national minimum wage, which increased to £3.70 per hour in April 2018. In England, the mean pay for level 2 apprentices is £6.69; the level 2 median pay is £6.35. The mean pay rate for level 3 apprentices is £7.38; the level 3 median pay is £7.10.

We are not currently considering extending the scope of Care to Learn, student financial support including the 16-19 Bursary Fund or the Childcare Grant to apprenticeships as they are classed as paid contractual employment with training.

We are creating an apprenticeship system that is open to a wide range of people. As we continue to reform the apprenticeships system we will keep our funding for apprentices with additional needs under review.

For apprentices claiming benefits in their own right, financial support is available for those on low incomes. Eligible apprentices may be able to claim Universal Credit or Tax Credits to help with living costs. Universal Credit is also an in-work benefit, so claimants in work on low wages, including apprentices under contract, can continue to claim support for housing. Parents of apprentices are not, however, eligible to claim Child Benefit, as apprentices, like other employees, earn a wage.

In addition, an apprentice may be entitled to the usual in-work benefits, such as Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credits. If an apprentice has children, is aged 16 or over and does paid work of at least 16 hours a week then they could qualify for tax credits, unless they are already earning £25,000 per year or more. Statutory Sick Pay is paid on the basis of the level of earnings in the relevant period. Disabled apprentices may be entitled to Access to Work payments to help with any support needed to do their job such as assistive technology or an assistant.