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Construction Industry Training Board Levy Proposal 2018: Taking back control

We all know now that a referendum or General Election that appears to be a formality can produce surprising results.  But is it possible that the same thing could happen with the CITB Levy?

The consent process for the CITB to be granted fresh Levy-raising powers for 2018 – 2020 is now underway.  This means the CITB has to prove to the Government that at least 51% of the 25,000 construction companies that are obliged to pay support the proposals.

Until now, consent has always been a formality, with proposals rubber-stamped.  But could an upset be on the cards this time round?

First of all, you might imagine the CITB would simply ask everyone who’s affected one simple question – Do you support our proposal or not? – with a Yes/No tick box.  And yet, according to the CITB, it’s not so straightforward.

More about that in a moment, but first of all, here’s a summary of the new proposals:

  1. The CITB has discounted the PAYE Levy rate by 0.15%, which will save large firms millions of pounds and small firms virtually nothing.
  2. It has also promised large employers a share of £41,000,000.  Hudson Contract believes this is a shameless cashback scheme, designed to buy support in face of the Government’s new Apprenticeship Levy.
  3. Meanwhile, the 1.25% Levy on net paid CIS sub-contractors and removal of the offset, which has seen Levy bills for SMEs soar, will be maintained.  

About the voting

According to the CITB, 35% of Levy-payers belong to what’s known as a Consensus Federation.  There are thirteen of these, and each one does a block vote – historically in favour of each new set of Levy proposals – on behalf of its members.

CFs that vote on behalf of their members are:

  • Build UK
  • British Woodworking Federation (BWF)
  • Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA)
  • Construction Plant-hire Association (CPA)
  • Federation of Master Builders (FMB)
  • Hire Association Europe (HAE)
  • Home Builders Federation (HBF)
  • National Association of Shopfitters (NAS)
  • National Federation of Builders (NFB)
  • National Federation of Demolition Contractors (NFDC)
  • Scottish Building Federation (SBF)
  • Scottish Decorators Federation (SDF)
  • Scottish Plant Owners Association (SPOA)

If you belong to one of these – and if you oppose the Levy – get in touch and ask how your CF intends to represent your views this time round.

The entire ‘approval system’ lacks all credibility because:

  • It appears some CFs rely on CITB funding to survive, giving them a huge vested interest in supporting the Levy
  • The CFs have been promised even more money – under the 2018 grant proposals they will be added to a list of approved training providers
  • Last time around 50% of the CFs appear to have cast more votes than they had members. . . let alone Levy-paying members
  • Independent research carried out last year proved the CFs have no mandate from their members – details here
  • One CF even gets to block vote for members of associated smaller federations with whom it has no contact

How do you prevent a CF taking your name in vain?

If you are against the Levy:

  1. Check your 2016 and 2017 Levy Assessment Forms to see if a CF is named
  2. If one is and you do not want them to vote for you, write 'I oppose the Levy and do not consent to the federation voting on my behalf, or remove the name and replace with 'None' in box 1a, and resend to
  3. Let your CF know that if it gives consent against your wishes, you will consider resigning your membership

Don’t get caught out

It’s possible, your CF will send you something asking for an opinion.  If that happens, make sure you don’t inadvertently agree to a Levy proposal that you actually oppose.

We are aware that the National Federation of Builders (NFB) has become the first CF to contact members, asking them if they agree to the new ‘reduced’ Levy rates.  Answers are recorded by Survey Monkey.  However, you don’t have to prove you are a member to vote (no details are required) so anyone who clicks the link can vote.  This effectively makes all votes worthless and – we would hope – ineligible for use by the CITB to demonstrate consent.

The CITB says it is also going to use a research company to attempt to contact 6,000 Levy-paying firms that do not belong to a CF.  In practice this is a good idea, but by not sampling every levy payer they are leaving themselves open to accusations of skewing the results.

You can also use to make it clear your views on the consent proposals.

Ian Anfield

Ian Anfield

Managing Director, Hudson Contract

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