At a time when many construction companies are facing a cashflow crisis, the revelation will pile pressure on the training quango to step up its support for the sector. CITB is currently resisting industry calls to cancel the 2020 levy and intends to resume full collection from this summer.
The extraordinary figures have been revealed in response to a Freedom of Information request made by Hudson Contract.
The training quango admitted:
The purpose of Go Construct is to attract people into the construction sector… We do not record how many individuals have joined the sector as a result of Go Construct, therefore we cannot track the direct benefits, nor calculate the return on investment.
CITB spent £1.3m in development costs to launch Go Construct in 2015. By January 2020, it had spent £2.6m marketing and promoting the website and a further £853,000 on support and hosting costs.
In its FOI response, CITB said it plans to spend another £3.5m at Go Construct over the next three years.
Senior representatives acknowledged issues with the website’s usability and effectiveness at an industry event earlier this year.
CITB said it is improving the site’s “information architecture, search engine optimisation, job role pages and signposting”.
Hudson estimates the total amount of levy funds committed to Go Construct is £8.2m.
Go Construct is intended to showcase the many career opportunities available in construction and the built environment.
But other than linking to government apprenticeship and employer websites there are no actual job opportunities to be found.
CITB has described Future Made as “a major new project designed to attract tomorrow’s construction workforce… through engaging and relatable stories, presented on social media”. Users would then be directed to Go Construct.
Ian Anfield, managing director of Hudson Contract, said: “This is an astonishing amount of money to be spending on promotional websites and social media campaigns with zero tangible return for levy payers.
“At a time when many construction companies are fighting for survival under the coronavirus lockdown, CITB will struggle to justify such sums.
“Instead of throwing hard-earned cash at media and marketing companies, CITB should be stepping up its support for industry during this crisis.”
The quango has announced a temporary 3-month suspension with bills subsequently issued for the full year.
According to its annual accounts, CITB collected levies from 75,000 employers but handed out grants to just 16,000 companies last year.
The number of firms to benefit from CITB funding represents barely 5 per cent of an industry with an estimated 325,000 firms (ONS).