CITY Facilities Management Holdings has renewed its contract with Asda, as founder Lord Willie Haughey railed against the government apprenticeship levy.

The firm secured a new “long- term” deal with the supermarket giant to build on the partnership it has enjoyed with the Walmart-owned retailer since 1997, which has been a cornerstone of its continuing growth in the UK.

It will see Gorbals-based City provide Asda with a broad range of facilities management services, including electrical, fabric and building maintenance, energy management, and cleaning.

READ MORE: Glasgow peer Haughey hits out at state of UK politics

The Asda deal was unveiled shortly after Lord Haughey used a speech at a Glasgow business event to launch a stinging attack on the apprenticeship levy.

The Labour peer said the levy was “one of the worst things in this country”, telling an audience of Glasgow Chamber of Commerce members that “once the madness [of Brexit] stops, I’m going to fight to take it away”.

The levy is applied to businesses with an annual payroll of £3 million or more, with employers able in turn to draw on funding to support staff training. But, speaking on the sidelines of the event, Lord Haughey said it actually discourages employers from taking apprentices on because the funding it gives for training is limited.

He said: “In the small print of the apprenticeship levy, when they say you can get money back, they are only willing to give you money back for the day that the apprentice is in education or is at college. The other four days of the week, they don’t see that. But we can’t charge anybody.

READ MORE: Whisky bar plan for landmark Glasgow building

“Most people who are paying for an apprentice now are not being able to recoup that money.

“I’m saying to the government, when you are an apprentice, your whole week is training. You’re either getting theory at college one day, or you are getting practical for four days from a time-served engineer. You learn more in those four days than one day at college, so why should I not get my money back to pay for [it]? I’m sad to say because of it I now have less apprentices.”

He added: “Nobody has said this is a good idea, but we can’t get talking about it because of Brexit. This is the problem – we can’t get to the big issues.”

On the Asda deal, Lord Haughey said: “I am thrilled that we will continue to build on the success of the last two decades in our continued partnership with Asda.

“Our trusted relationship is testament to the hard work and dedication of our colleagues over the years and I am incredibly proud of what our teams have achieved in driving service and savings across the estate.

“I very much look forward to developing new and innovative solutions to further grow our partnership in the future.”