The British Beer & Pub Association has called for small businesses such as pubs to be exempt from the proposed Apprenticeship Levy.

In a submission to a Government consultation the BBPA has also commented on the introduction of the National Living Wage, in a submission to the Low Pay Commission.

While the BBPA has concerns about the need for a Levy, it says that any scheme should only apply to larger companies, to avoid placing an excessive burden on very small businesses; companies with over 250 employees would be broadly the right approach.

It also wants to ensure that the system of vouchers is designed to enable companies to get more out than they put in, if others are not using their allocation of vouchers, and to allocate their vouchers to partners in their supply chain, if they so wish. The BBPA says employers must also be given the flexibility to decide where their employees are based within the UK where they work across devolved boundaries, and this must be simple to administer.

On the Low Pay Commission submission on the introduction of the National Living Wage, the BBPA has stressed that the proposals represent a significant ‘unknown’ in terms of costs and impact on the sector. Other measures to mitigate this impact are therefore needed it says, such as reform of business rates and continued reductions in beer duty.

The association wants to see an evidence-based approach to setting the National Minimum Wage rates for October, to support businesses and employees. It says the large increase in the apprenticeship rate just introduced needs time to settle in and this will also tie in with the impact of the Apprenticeship Levy.

BBPA chief executive Brigid Simmonds said: “Apprenticeships are vital for our industry. We need the new Levy system to provide flexibility to allow the large number of apprenticeships offered in our industry to develop and grow, so we need legislation that encourages this process that is not too burdensome for smaller businesses. The potential cost of the Living Wage makes it all the more important that the Government retain a strong focus on tax cuts and other regulatory burdens.”