Grant boost for training levy

21 April 2011

CITB-ConstructionSkills levy payers will receive an extra 12 per cent supplementary payment on grant claims for the next three years in what will be seen by many as a bid to boost support for the controversial tariff.

Starting in August, the 12 per cent bonus will be added to the 10 per cent rate introduced last year as part of the redesigned £90m Grants Scheme.

The move follows Construction Manager’s revelation earlier this month that a multinational company had won exemption from the training payment.

The out of court settlement could result in other firms seeking similar exemptions.

The temporary rate will apply to all grants, including the apprenticeship package, standard achievement/attendance, plant and other specialist training support.

The CITB said the additional payment is designed to enable firms to increase investment in skills and training despite the continuing impact of the recession on the sector.

Mark Farrar, chief executive of CITB-ConstructionSkills, said: “Our latest research shows that more than a quarter of construction businesses in the UK reduced their training activity in 2010, with 18 per cent planning to scale back training further this year.”

He added: "It is essential employers maintain investment in the current and future workforce, and by giving this additional boost to supplementary grants, we can add more value to levy payers, helping firms receive even more value on their investment as they prepare for economic recovery."

The decision to introduce a temporary increase to supplementary grant payments was made at a meeting of the CITB’s employer-led Board, which last month agreed to invest an additional £25 m over the next three years in specific skills and training activities to support the sector following a better than expected year end financial results in 2010.

Stuart Thwaites, a senior associate with solicitors Wright Hassal which represented the contractor that is now exempt from the levy, said: “ConstructionSkills may have to prepare itself for an increased number of appeals, and the first thing it will need to do is to clear up the legislation and eliminate such grey areas, as well as ensuring the assessment process is fair.”

However a spokesperson for ConstructionSkills said: “In this instance, once we received the full information from the employer, our assessors quickly established that they were not liable to pay. In line with standard procedure, this was settled outside of court and without any payment being made to ConstructionSkills.”

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