Levy dispute between Hudson Contract & CITB rumbles on

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Hudson Contract Services Ltd has served CITB with a £10.5m grant claim, the biggest in the history of the levy, after the Court of Appeal ruled the company was within scope of CITB’s levy-raising powers

Hudson has already lodged an appeal against the levy judgment.

Hudson Vs CITB

Ian Anfield, managing director, said: “The long-running dispute with CITB, which started in 2014, has veered from the sublime to the ridiculous.

“The latest judgment opens up the prospect of Hudson Contract Services Ltd, which had a staff of 30 payroll and auditing employees, becoming the largest levy payer since CITB was set up in the early 1960s.

“The levy at the centre of this dispute is for 2016 and amounts to £7.9m. This would be double the levy typically paid by a major contractor if it ever falls due.

“The judgment also forces CITB to assess a protective grant claim of £10.5m for the same year, which was delivered on two pallet trucks in February.”

Hudson Contract Services Ltd has argued consistently that by any sensible analysis it was not a construction company: it did not enter into contracts to carry out construction work and simply provided business services to small and medium-sized construction firms.

CITB response

When contacted by PBC Today, CITB said it “welcomed the unanimous judgment of the Court of Appeal which provides a clear statement of the law”.

CITB spokesman Mike Hobday commented: “The Levy due from Hudson in this case will enable CITB to invest in skills for the future of the construction industry.

“We have for some time invited Hudson to submit a grant claim for any construction-related training that they identify, organise and fund. CITB will of course consider the new claim in accordance with the scheme rules.

“Hudson Contract Services Ltd’s 2019 annual accounts state that it has CITB Levy assessments for the financial years 2016, 2017 and 2018 totalling over £27.4m so we fully recognise the significant implications of this issue.”

CITB dispute continues

Anfield added: “We don’t know exactly how or when this dispute will end. We will either be found to be out of scope at the next round of appeal, or there will be an offset of grant against levy which could itself involve the courts.

“But we do know that CITB has lost its way since I attended its training college at Bircham Newton in 1990 as a Balfour Beatty apprentice

“CITB no longer delivers training, has nothing to do with CSCS cards and spends millions of pounds of levy payers’ money on itself and activities that are questionable at best.

“Ultimately, if CITB had half of the industry support it claims to have, we would have just added the levy to our fees and clients would have been happy to pay.

“However, the reality is the vast majority of Hudson Contract Services Ltd’s 2,000 SME clients saw no value in CITB and we took this stand on their behalf.”

Anfield concluded: “While we have far more important issues to deal with for clients of our other businesses – such as IR35 and reverse charge VAT – the CITB dispute will rumble on in the background for as long as it takes to achieve the correct result.”

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