Scottish construction bodies reject CITB levy proposals
Members of the Scottish Building Federation (SBF) and the Scottish Decorators’ Federation (SDF) have both voted overwhelmingly to reject the Construction Industry Training Board’s (CITB) proposals to continue to raise the construction industry training levy.
Since its establishment in 1964, CITB has consulted industry every three years on future arrangements for the Construction Levy. Across the UK, a total of 14 organisations are prescribed to respond to this consultation process based on a consensus of their members’ views. SBF and SDF are two of only three wholly Scottish membership bodies to feature on this list of prescribed organisations.
Officially recognised consensus federations have until today to consult their membership on the latest proposals for the levy and to report the results back to CITB.
More than two thirds of SBF members responding to the SBF consultation voted against CITB’s proposition whilst 89% of responding SDF members also rejected CITB’s offering.
SBF and SDF members pay a significant share of construction levy contributions in Scotland and this decisive vote substantially undermines the legitimacy of the current arrangements.
However, 94% of respondents to a supplementary question about the general management of the levy said they would be more inclined to support a continuation of the current levy and grant system if action were taken to make the governance and operation of CITB more accountable to Scottish levy payers.
Scottish Building Federation managing director, Vaughan Hart, has described the vote as demonstrating a general loss of confidence amongst Scottish building industry employers in CITB’s management of the levy, training and apprenticeships – rather than a rejection of the levy and grant system itself.
Vaughan Hart said: “As officially recognised consensus federations, SBF and SDF are required to consult their respective memberships on proposed changes to the Construction Levy on a tri-annual basis. In past years, Scottish employers have consistently voted in support of any such proposals. However, on this occasion, SBF members voted by a factor of two to one to reject CITB’s proposals with feedback from levy payers in Scotland suggesting that industry employers feel increasingly marginalised and overlooked. Time and again, levy payers cited the recent CITB imposed deregulation and dilution of Scotland’s proud craft apprenticeships as a symptom of the systematic failure and lack of transparency in CITB’s current governance and operational arrangements.”
Ian Rogers, chief executive of the Scottish Decorators’ Federation, said: “This overwhelming vote against consensus shows the level of dissatisfaction with CITB in Scotland. The way they have conducted themselves recently over qualifications and standards and their treatment of the Scottish Registration bodies has left many levy payers appalled. In the past, CITB were seen as a force for good and an ally to our industry. As a result of cost cutting and refusing to listen and act on the wishes of the Scottish industry, they now find themselves in this regrettable position.
“There is a short window of opportunity for CITB to retrieve the situation which I would urge them to grasp. They need to be more open and accountable, to be more transparent and to offer Scotland a more devolved Scottish CITB.”
Earlier this week, the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) announced its qualified support for the CITB but called on the training body to better recognise Scotland’s “high-quality” construction apprenticeships.
Vaughan Hart added: “SBF’s consultation demonstrates that there remains an underlying level of support for the levy and grant system with over 90% of respondents indicating that they would be more inclined to support CITB if proposals were introduced to allow for a meaningful level of control and decision making to reside in Scotland. If confidence in the levy and grant system is to be fully restored in Scotland, Scottish employers are looking for far-reaching reforms to CITB’s governance and operations to make it properly accountable to Scottish levy payers. I would urge CITB not to ignore such a clearly expressed view from the Scottish construction sector as the current arrangements are evidently unsustainable.”