CITB under fire for refusing to suspend levy

Grant Prior 4 years ago

The Construction Industry Training Board is facing heavy criticism for refusing to suspend levy collection from contractors during the coronavirus crisis.

The training body is offering a range of measures to support the industry.

But CITB Head of Policy & External Affairs Mike Hobday told the Enquirer: “Levy suspension is not one of the support measures we are able to offer at the moment.”

He added: “CITB will, of course, support the construction industry throughout this crisis. We understand that cash flow is an immediate issue for employers and have prioritised the processing of grant claims to pay them as early as possible.”

“CITB and the wider construction sector is doing everything it possibly can at the moment to support the industry – particularly  SMEs, many of which we know are extremely vulnerable right now.

“We have just announced an apprenticeship support package, bringing forward the payment of apprenticeship grants, and further announcements will be made next week.”

The decision has sparked anger among cash-strapped contractors and industry experts.

Ian Anfield, Managing Director of Hudson Contract, said: SMEs employ tradespeople and apprentices, not the CITB or federations.

“It is astonishing that CITB acknowledges that employers need support with cash flow immediately, yet CITB is not willing to suspend its own levy collection. It is placing self-preservation above everything.

How can CITB expect SMEs to pay a levy based on PAYE and CIS payments for the financial year ending April 2019? Most construction companies will be prioritising payments to their people and a number of construction companies will inevitably default on levy payments.  

“Last year, the quango raised £135m from 62,000 micro, small and medium-sized employers to fund itself.

Given the extraordinary challenges facing the industry, the Government should order an immediate suspension of levy payments into the scheme.

“This would provide instant support to cash-strapped SMEs and in reality would have no impact on the amount or quality of training carried out.”

Hobday said: “While the entire sector has been fully focussed over the past few days on supporting construction businesses, it is disappointing that Hudson Contract Ltd appears to be using this crisis as an opportunity to pursue its own £24.7 million of unpaid levy dispute with CITB.”

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