09 Feb 2022The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has urged the government to reconsider the rise in national insurance contributions (NICs) in order to 'recover lost apprentice numbers'. Data published by the FSB revealed that apprenticeship starts fell by more than 30% following the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy and by 20% between 2019/20 and 2020/21. The business group has urged the government to remove all NIC costs for apprentices to help spur role creation, and cancel planned increases to NICs and dividend taxation to 'free up funds for recruitment and training among entrepreneurs'. Mike Cherry, National Chair of the FSB, said: 'Our apprentices are our future business leaders and innovators, and that's why we should be doing all we can to create more of them. 'By looking again at its approach to NICs, the government can make a real difference here – directly, by bringing down the immediate costs of taking an apprentice on, and indirectly, by freeing up more funds for recruitment and training at a moment when cash reserves are depleted.'