UK presses ahead with apprenticeship levy despite calls for Brexit delay
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LONDON (Reuters) - Britain confirmed on Friday it would press ahead with plans to impose a levy on large employers from early next year to help pay for training workers, despite calls from business groups for the charge to be delayed to soften the economic impact of Brexit.
The decision comes as Britain faces the looming prospect of a recession, fueled by wilting business and consumer confidence following June's vote to leave the European Union.
The levy, a 0.5 percent payroll tax on all employers with an annual wage bill above 3 million pounds ($3.8 million), is designed to address a chronic skills shortages, but has drawn skeptical responses from businesses since it was announced in 2015.
Calls to delay its implementation had intensified after the EU referendum, with business and manufacturing lobbies asking for more time to assess the impact of Brexit on their operations and how the levy will affect them.
But the government's planned start date of April 2017 was confirmed in a publication announcing details of the scheme, including how much money employers will be able to claim back for training new workers.
"Our businesses can only grow and compete on the world stage if they have the right people, with the right skills," said skills minister Robert Halfon. "The apprenticeship levy will help create millions of opportunities for individuals and employers."
(Reporting by William James; editing by Stephen Addison)
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