CITB’s levy and grant scheme, Hudson
© Viorel Dudau

Hudson Contract has said CITB’s levy and grant scheme is a ‘failing system which works against the interests of SMEs and favours the major contractors’

Hudson is polling its customer base of 2,200 construction SMEs on their experience of the effectiveness of the CITB’s levy and grant scheme.

The levy is supposed to support construction employers with training grants to make sure the industry has the skilled workforce it needs.

The facts

According to Hudson, CITB’s levy and grant scheme has raised nearly £600m since it last claimed to have gained industry support back in 2017.

In 2016, a YouGov survey commissioned by Hudson found that six out of 10 levy payers provided training without CITB grant funding while just one in 10 respondents received levy grant payments.

In 2017, the government ordered CITB to improve governance and be more accountable to the industry. Ministers called for wide-ranging reforms so the organisation is more focused, efficient and responsive, including to small employers.

The Department of Education promised a progress report for October 2019 but this is yet to materialise.

Hudson is contacting clients to carry out the survey. It will invite clients to bypass the undemocratic federation block voting system which many feel for decades has failed to represent their views.

As an alternative, clients will be offered a discounted membership of the National Federation of Builders, one of the few voting organisations that has not become hooked on CITB handouts.

An alternative model

Ian Anfield, managing director of Hudson Contract Services, said: “The world of work has moved on. We will be publishing our proposals in the coming months. Safe to say, our alternative model will reduce costs for industry, cut red tape, put more money into government coffers and, most importantly, improve outcomes for training and health and safety in the construction industry.

“CITB has raised more than £1.75bn in levies over the last decade and still we are told there is a construction skills crisis. It looks like a billion-pound bodge job.”

Robin Hood in reverse

Anfield, added: “We believe the levy and grant scheme is a failing system which works against the interests of SMEs and favours the major contractors. We have called it ‘Robin Hood in reverse’ and our analysis shows why.

“With our survey of business views on CITB’s scheme, we are democratising the consensus process and giving a voice to SMEs, the lifeblood of the construction industry.

“These are the companies that are subjected to the levy and are expected to stand in line, bowl in hand, in the hope of being handed a grant. It’s time to hear their opinions. We are confident the verdict won’t make pretty reading for CITB or the major contractors which have done very nicely out of the grant scheme unchallenged for many years.”

CITB response

Steve Radley, CITB policy director, said: “We are always looking to make levy funding more accessible and effective so it will be great to get more intelligence from this survey on what levy payers think.

“Feedback from employers is that funding from the levy is making a real difference to small firms.

“The Skills and Training Fund will have provided £8m of support to small firms and will grow to £10m in the coming year.

“Small employers tell us that the funding is much more accessible and feedback to the planned £4m medium-sized fund, which starts from April, has also been very positive.

“This is on top of the £100m funding that the Grants Scheme will provide this year, of which two-thirds goes to SMEs.”

The HS2 Survey

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