The Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) has unveiled plans to help employers recover from the coronavirus crisis, including a 25% reduction in annual levy bills faced by contractors.
In March, the CITB suspended levy payments for three months. Employers will continue to have a payment holiday on the Levy until September and then up to a full year to pay the 2020/21 levy. In addition, CITB will propose a 50% discount on the 2021/22 Levy rate. This means employers will pay 18 months’ Levy out of 24, making an overall saving of 25% across two years, providing help when it is most needed.
These changes will see CITB’s forecast Levy income drop by £166m across two financial years. Despite this large drop in income, the new plan Skills Stability Plan 2020-21 is intended toprotect apprenticeships, provide direct funding to employers and continue with the Grants Scheme. CITB is also cutting costs and using its reserves to support employers’ skills needs.
The plan has prioritised direct funding for employers through the Skills and Training Funds, with £8m earmarked for small and micro businesses, £3.5m for medium-sized businesses, with a £3m Leadership and Management Fund for large firms. This will help employers train to adapt to the new working environment and update the skills of their workforce.
CITB will now seek the views of industry employers and federations about the development of a new strategic plan, covering 2021-23, with the plan expected to be published in September.
CITB Chief Executive Sarah Beale said: “We have spoken to employers and federations and most have suggested that they want us to focus full-time on helping the industry meet the challenges posed by Covid. We have confirmed with the Department for Education that we will not run the usual Consensus process and instead we will speak to employers and industry groups to seek their views on our plans for next year.”
Mark Reynolds, Mace Group Chief Executive and Skills Workstream Lead at the Construction Leadership Council (CLC), said: “Our industry has come together to develop an effective plan to come back from the effects of Covid-19, as detailed in the CLC’s Roadmap to Recovery document. CITB’s Skills Stability Plan builds on this work and clearly outlines how they will play their part in delivering the skills we need. We very much support efforts made by the CITB to substantially reduce the Levy. It is right that Consensus is delayed so we can work together to make sure that our recovery, still in its early stages, is as strong as possible.”
Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the Federation of Master Builders welcomed the reductions and said: “It’s important now that the CITB focuses its energy on getting money out of the door to support builders to train, and that they improve communication with SMEs who find it harder than is acceptable to access CITB services. The construction industry still faces a skills crisis, and any future skills plan mustn’t overlook the core role that SMEs play in developing talent, especially as they train over 70% of the industry apprentices.”