“Yes, Rishi Sunak’s mini-budget has rightly been welcomed for its potential to restart the economy. And yes, we at the Coastal West Sussex Partnership certainly are pleased to see some good news for hospitality and tourism businesses; young people, particularly those who are furthest from the workplace and the financial incentive for businesses to take on apprentices and trainees.

“But, while this support is a good starting point and clearly we will need to wait for more detail to follow, we have to ask, couldn’t more have been done?

“Since the radical reforms of the apprenticeship system and the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy in 2017, over 90% of UK business owners and managers in companies that pay the Levy still say they won’t or don’t know if they will make full use of the levy for their own businesses.

“The apprenticeship programme has actually become more complex for employers to navigate, with changes in course providers and increases in training costs. Rather than the number of apprenticeships being boosted, they have fallen by a more than a quarter with many small firms giving up on schemes and larger ones failing to even claim back the money they paid in, leaving £2bn unspent.

“So, although the new £2k incentive to take on an apprentice is welcome, we ask, was it wise of the Chancellor to ignore these statistics around the uptake of apprentices by employers – and will young people really benefit?”

Caroline Wood, Director, Coastal West Sussex Partnership