A government scheme that requires firms to pay out a proportion of their annual payroll to fund training schemes is unfavoured by many, a survey of senior professional services workers has shown.

According to the Managing Partners Forum (MPF), 42% of professional services firms said they had yet to receive anything back from paying the levy. Further, 60% of firms say that the levy has complicated learning and development activities.

Richard Chaplin, founder and chief executive of the MPF, said professional services firms have been ‘investing huge amounts’ in quality training for decades, and that unsurprisingingly the levy is viewed by many as an ‘extra tax that complicates learning and development’.

Announced at the end of November 2016, the levy required practices with wage bills of more than £3m a year to pay out 0.5% of their payrolls to fund training schemes. According to the Law Society’s guidance on the scheme, levy-paying employers will pay their contributions monthly to HM Revenue and Customs via the PAYE system. It came into force in May 2017.

A total of 48 professional firms responded to the survey, which took place during March. It is the second time the MPF has canvassed views from business leaders.

More than half (56%) of respondents were law firms, followed by accountancy and property sectors making up 17% each, and consultancy firms at 10%.

Nearly a third of firms (32%) said the levy has displaced budget away from the most needed learning and development within their firm while 28% said it had made professional development less attractive due to the label of ‘apprentice’.

Chaplin, added: ‘There is clearly support for the concept of apprenticeships, not least because of their important potential role in helping to address persistent issues around diversity and social mobility within the professions. However, simplification of the rules around apprenticeships – and particularly the levy – must be considered for the real potential impact to be realised.’