Apprenticeships – Increased incentives explained…


The Education & Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) has announced an increase to the financial incentive payments firms will receive for new apprentices taken on as new full-time employees from the 1st April 2021.

Employers will receive £3,000 for new employees of any age who start their apprenticeship from 1 April 2021 to 30 September 2021.

What can the payment be used for?

The incentive payment is different to the apprenticeship levy funds, so you can spend it on anything to support your organisation’s costs. For example, on uniforms, your apprentice’s travel, or their salary. You do not have to pay it back.

How to apply?

You can apply for the incentive payment after you add new apprentices to your apprenticeship service account.

You must set up an apprenticeship service account to apply.

When will you get paid?

You can start applying for incentive payments for these apprentices from 1 June 2021.

The ESFA cannot make any payments until they’ve received and verified your organisation and finance details. This could take up to 3 months and we may contact someone from your organisation.

Payment are split into 2 equal instalments for each apprentice. The first payment is sent after an apprentice completes 90 days of their apprenticeship and the second is sent after 365 days.

Payments will be made by Bacs on the 14th working day of the month. It usually takes 3 working days to process.

After you apply, you can view applications, estimated payment dates and check the status of each payment in your apprenticeship service account

Free Recruitment

We offer this service as part of the apprenticeship offering – Please discuss with us for further information on how we can help you recruit the right people.

Employers can make up to 10 new reservations.

From 1 April 2021, the Education & Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) will reset reservation levels for employers who do not pay the Apprenticeship Levy. This will enable employers to make up to 10 new reservations to fund new apprenticeship starts in the financial year 2021-22.

Funds transferred from employers who pay the levy to other employers through the apprenticeship service are not included when measuring the number of reservations.

If you are not an Apprenticeship Levy paying firm, you can reserve funds for training and assessment in the ‘finance’ section of your apprenticeship service account. Alternatively, you can give permission to a training provider to do this on your behalf.


Employers can reserve funds up to 6 months in advance.

From 1 April 2021, the ESFA are also extending the reservation period for employers who do not pay the Apprenticeship Levy from 3 to 6 months. This means that from 1 April, these employers will be able to reserve funds up to 6 months before an apprenticeship is planned to start.

This will give employers greater flexibility when planning their apprenticeship programmes and reassure them that funding for apprenticeships is available for a longer period.


You can use the links above to access more information from the government website. Our apprenticeship team are also on hand to discuss any questions you might have and help you unlock apprenticeships.

For further information please contact Nicola Spennati our Apprenticeship Manager, email


FSTP apprenticeship team