Skills minister Nick Boles has suggested the incoming apprenticeship levy could be put on ice if the UK votes to leave the EU.
The levy was designed to generate funding for 3m apprenticeships, but has faced opposition from business groups including the Confederation of British Industry since it was first announced in the July 2015 budget.
And now Boles has suggested his own programme could be dropped by chancellor George Osborne if the UK opts for Brexit later this month, with the programme untimely in the economic shock that the government predicts would follow.
Speaking at think tank Policy Exchange yesterday, Boles said: “Do you think the chancellor will feel it is prudent to introduce a new payroll tax in the middle of a recession, when business confidence has been knocked by a decision to leave the single market and unemployment is rising?” he asked.
The levy is already in legislation, however Boles maintained that the programme could still be dropped.
“Like all public services, funding for apprenticeships, and other support for young people, depends on the economy being strong and businesses being profitable," Boles said.