Employer’s First Rung scheme helps degree apprentices buy first home

Applegate is offering to match savings made by degree apprentices up to £10,000 after tax to provide a deposit to buy a home locally in North Devon.

Under its new ‘First Rung’ scheme, Applegate’s degree apprentices will be encouraged to put aside part of the pay rises they receive into a saving scheme of their choosing. On successful completion of the programme, each will have their savings matched if they choose to use them to get on the housing ladder – providing up to £20,000 each as a total deposit. Applegate will pay the income tax and National Insurance, so the full amount is received by the degree apprentice and can be put to work to help with the purchase of a house or flat.

“Two challenges we face in North Devon are that it can be hard for young people to get onto the housing ladder and that we’re not keeping enough of our brightest and best in the area when they finish college” explained Applegate’s chief executive, Stuart Brocklehurst. “The ‘First Rung’ scheme is intended to help address both these issues, and also to reward our brilliant degree apprentices who complete the programme and take their degree.”

Applegate’s degree apprentices study for a BSc in Business and Management with Petroc and Plymouth University. They also qualify as Chartered Managers and Members of the Chartered Institute of Management. All their fees are covered and they are paid for the time they study as well as their time working. “

The degree apprenticeship is a great alternative to a residential university course” Stuart continued. “After five years you have a degree, two professional qualifications, work experience in responsible roles, zero student debt and now – if you wish – could buy your first home.”

Jon Loates, a degree apprentice at Applegate, is keen to take part in the scheme. “Getting a degree and getting on the housing ladder both set you up well for life. I was planning to save for a deposit anyway, the ‘First Rung’ scheme has really encouraged me to make a start.”

Claire Knight, another of Applegate’s degree apprentices, agrees: “The chance to own my first home by the age of 23: that feels like it would be such a great achievement. The degree apprenticeship is a brilliant programme anyway; this is the icing on the cake!”

Stuart Brocklehurst concluded: “We’re hoping that other employers in North Devon might adopt this programme as well: it has the potential to make a real difference to the area. We know some are interested in doing so – but there’s a sting in the tail. To provide £10,000 to a degree apprentice for their deposit, we have to pay almost as much again in income tax, Employee National Insurance and Employers’ National Insurance: this scheme to help young people will end up paying almost as much to the taxman. For large companies there are programmes such as Save As Your Earn, but those aren’t available to the smaller and mid-sized businesses that employ many people in North Devon. Some partial relief could go a long way to encouraging businesses to provide this support.”

Applegate has seven places available on its degree apprenticeship programme starting September 2017. Anyone interested in applying should email hr@applegate.co.uk.

• Full details of the scheme at applegate.co.uk

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