The National Federation of Builders (NFB) has expressed significant concern at the proposals issued today by CITB for supporting the industry’s training and skills delivery. The proposals suggest that the construction sector, which is taxed by CITB to support the delivery of training, will not hold its key consultation programme this year or next, despite major changes to its approach that the NFB is concerned to do sufficiently support the industry at arguably the most crucial time in its history.
In CITB’s plan, it will in effect collect 18 months of Levy over two years, representing a 25% reduction per year. The NFB welcomes the part-reduction in Levy, which it has been calling for since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, as it will undoubtedly help businesses with cash-flow during the fragile recovery period. However, the plan also raises significant governance and oversight questions as the CITB is set to spend almost £60m in reserves by the end of the financial year, leaving them perilously low at £8m despite cutting numerous funded programmes and projects.
The CITB has agreed with the Department for Education, counter to the NFB members’ wishes, to seek a new one year Levy Order without the consent of the industry, which it was due to do later this year. The CITB confirmed that it will seek another one year Levy Order in 2021, for the 2022-2023 financial year, again without the consent of industry.
The NFB recognises that CITB has listened in part to concerns that NFB members raised with the organisation, by allocating a greater amount of Skills and Training Fund resources to micro, smaller and medium sized businesses. The NFB maintains that this should be reflected in the approach the CITB takes to all skills and training delivery, in recognition of the fact that SMEs train 7 in 10 construction apprentices and constitute 90% of the trainers.
Commenting, Nick Sangwin, National Chair of the Federation of Builders said: “The CITB has announced a major shake-up in its approach to delivering skills and training, cutting swathes of projects and programmes without giving industry any say in its approach, either this year or next. While the temporary cut in Levy is warmly welcomed and will be helpful, CITB’s plans for its future support of industry will be critical and must be put to industry. We cannot have a situation whereby the CITB avoids accountability at the most crucial time in our industry’s fragile recovery. Two years is too long to wait and we will be making that representation to the Government”.