CITB: £100m in the bank and declares ‘no demand for training’

CITB: £100m in the bank and declares ‘no demand for training’

15th March 2024 | Hudson Contract

CITB has quietly published its latest annual report and accounts, which show the construction industry training board has amassed a cash pile of more than £100m. 
The quango added £8.4m to reserves in 2022-23, overshooting the business plan by £28.4m. 
General reserves rose to £102.7m, well above the “policy floor” of £40m. 
Meanwhile, levy income soared by 57 per cent to £170.6m. 
In contrast, the cash-rich organisation awarded just £85.3m in grants. 
Chairman Peter Lauener claimed that despite being a busy year for construction, “2022-23 was not so good for training, since employers were telling us that they were too busy to prioritise training”.
Commenting on the report and accounts, Hudson Contract managing director Ian Anfield said: “The reality behind the falling demand is massive disengagement with CITB.
“But instead of cutting levy rates to ease pressure on construction SMEs or upping the number of training courses delivered, CITB plans to hand out huge sums of money in so-called ‘funded activity’ as shown in its latest business plan*.
“We are concerned this will see huge chunks of money wasted on vague initiatives that would not pass public scrutiny or represent a fair distribution of funds to levy payers. 
“The business plan will likely prove just as ineffective as the last one and does little to set out how CITB could genuinely address skills shortages or improve engagement levels with employers. 
“While the industry awaits the outcome of the latest government review into CITB’s future, the fact the reserves have ballooned to more than £100m shows the quango is unfit for purpose and has had its day.
“Under the Industrial Training Act, CITB is allowed to raise the funds necessary to cover its costs but the latest report and accounts show it is raising much more and has been for some time, which stems from its failure to properly engage with many employers.
"The accounts pose serious questions and could expose CITB to legal challenge when it goes back to government to ask for another year of levy raising powers and there could be problems ahead with the Charity Commission and HMRC.”
Released without fanfare on January 31, the accounts show that CITB staff costs increased by £4m to £37m during the year. 
In addition, CITB spent on £35.1m in support costs, including £7.9m on technology, £4.9m on estates and £2.7m on communications and marketing. 
It is estimated that CITB cost levy payers 84p for every £1 distributed in grants during 2022-23. 
Mr Anfield said: “CITB supposedly exists to provide training to construction but by the chairman’s own admission, yet again it has failed. 
“And when it comes to explaining what is going wrong, the best CITB can do is come up with glib criticism of the industry for not prioritising training.
“If our clients didn’t have to dig so deep to pay the levy in the first place, the state it has got itself in would be almost amusing.”

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