Ian Anfield, Managing Director for leading construction audit and contract provider, Hudson Contract, comments on recent interview with Sarah Beale, CEO of the CITB.
“While we welcome the CITB’s efforts to transform, these efforts don’t go nearly far enough because they don’t tackle the root cause. Sarah Beale talks of ‘a completely new CITB,’ yet she proposes the same old methods that have been shown to fail. Employers will still pay a levy, they will still pay for training, and they will still find any grant funding falling far short – if they receive any at all.
“The CITB needs to come clean about the significant financial incentives to support its plans that it is offering the largest firms who dominate the industry. It plans to double up on all grant payments to large firms in a £41 million giveaway, which means many will get far more out than they pay in. In contrast, SMEs will continue to struggle along with a 52% return on levy.
“When employers get their calculators out and check for themselves what the 0.35% PAYE levy means for them, the large firms are going to have much bigger smiles than the SMEs. An average SME will save around £150, whilst the largest employers could save more than £1 million.
“Employers carry out training because they need and want to. They are well capable of choosing who to buy training from. The CITB has said that it may accredit some federations and employers to carry out their own in-house training.
“This needs to be straightforward, low cost, transparent, and open to all with minimal bureaucracy, otherwise it will drive smaller providers out of business and prove an additional barrier to training. Trusted suppliers who have a proven track record may be excluded. Yet again, it looks like a policy designed to satisfy the big organisations on whom levy consent depends.
“Sarah Beale says she understands people feel ‘that we are not returning enough money to SMEs, that we are leaning too much towards the larger companies […] and that we are probably more bureaucratic than we would have liked to have been.’ Her proposals may address the last of these problems, but they do nothing to tackle the other two.”