As the lead user researcher on the apprenticeship service, I spend most of my time with employers and training providers, testing the service and trying to understand how to make it as easy to use as possible.
Most of the employers I talk to are keen to understand as much as they can about how the service will work and how they should set up their accounts. These are the questions they most commonly ask.
1. Where do I get my Government Gateway details from?
As part of the registration process, you’ll need to enter the Government Gateway username and password associated with your PAYE scheme. This is so that we can link the amount of levy you’ve paid to your account. Depending on the size and complexity of your organisation, this might be more straightforward for some than others. The first thing to do is to talk to your payroll department. Hopefully, they should have access to the credentials and should be able to help you set-up the account.
If your payroll is outsourced, you might find that the Government Gateway account your agent uses is not suitable for use on the apprenticeship service. If this happens, you’ll need to set up a Government Gateway account before you can register. To do this, you’ll need your Accounts Office reference and your PAYE scheme number. Your agent should be able to provide you with this. You can find out more about setting up a Government Gateway account here. Doing this won’t affect the way you currently manage your payroll, your agent can carry on as normal.
If your payroll department or agents are worried about the security of the site or what information it might give you access to, the next question should give them some reassurance.
2. Is there any sensitive PAYE information visible in the account?
Once the PAYE schemes are linked to the account, the only information that is shown in the account is the amount of levy paid against the scheme. There is no access to any other payroll information within the account. The Government Gateway user name and password entered during registration can’t be accessed from the account, and they only need to be entered once during registration.
3. Should I set up one account or more?
That really depends on how you want to manage your levy. If you have more than one PAYE scheme, you can add them to separate accounts if you wish. The benefit of this is that you have a greater degree of separation between the funds, and it might be easier for you to manage if you have subsidiaries or areas of the business that are managed autonomously. The disadvantage is that you can’t move funds between accounts, so if you would prefer to manage your levy as one amount across all of your connected companies, it would be best to add them all to the same account.
4. Should I add my connected companies to my account or not?
To receive levy from your connected companies, you only need to add their PAYE schemes to the account. Whether or not you add your connected companies as legal entities to the account depends on how you contract with your training provider. Only legal entities who contract with training providers need to be added to the account. The legal entity that is named on the contract with your training provider should be added to the account under the 'organisations' section.
5. If I give staff in my connected companies access to the account, will they be able to see information from other connected companies?
At the moment, they will. There is currently no way to section your account to control spend or access against connected companies or sites, however we know that this is something employers would like, so we're looking into how we could do this in the future.
If you are an employer and due to pay the apprenticeship levy from April, you can register now for the apprenticeship service. If you are not sure whether or not you will need to pay the levy, use our levy calculator to find out.
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