The deadline for employers to claim £3,000 cash incentives for hiring new apprentices has been extended by five days.
Businesses will now have until Friday May 20 instead of Sunday May 15 to get their claims in.
The Education and Skills Funding Agency told FE Week the change has been made in response to customer complaints that the deadline was on a weekend.
A spokesperson also issued a reminder that it is employers’ responsibility to “apply for the incentive before the deadline otherwise they will not be eligible to receive the payment”.
The cash incentives were first introduced by chancellor Rishi Sunak in August 2020 to help boost starts after a huge drop was caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Firms were initially offered £2,000 to take on apprentices aged 16 to 24, while those that employed new apprentices aged 25 and over were paid £1,500. Incentives were increased to £3,000 for all apprentices in February.
Employers can only apply for apprentices with an employment start date from October 1, 2021, to January 31, 2022. They will also need to have an apprenticeship start date from October 1, 2021, to March 31, 2022.
Latest ESFA data shows that as of March 8, 2022, a total of 179,450 claims for the cash bonus had been submitted by employers.
Of the total, 77 per cent (139,010) of claims were for 16- to 24-year-olds and 83 per cent (148,943) were for level 2 or 3 apprenticeships.
Sector leaders have hailed the success of the incentives in boosting the number of starts and called for the cash bonuses to be extended, but the Treasury and ESFA have resisted doing so.