Scottish bodies reject CITB levy proposals

MEMBERS of two major Scottish construction bodies have chosen to reject the Construction Industry Training Board’s (CITB) new levy proposals.

More than two thirds of Scottish Building Federation (SBF) members responding to the SBF consultation voted against CITB’s proposition while a massive 89% of responding Scottish Decorators’ Federation (SDF) members also rejected what was on offer.

SBF managing director Vaughan Hart described the vote as demonstrating a general loss of confidence amongst sector employers in CITB’s management of the levy, training and apprenticeships – rather than a rejection of the levy and grant system itself. He 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 added, “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.”

Vaughan Hart said there remains an underlying level of support for the levy and grant system with over 90% of respondents indicating 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,” he explained. “I would urge CITB not to ignore such a clearly expressed view from the Scottish construction sector as the current arrangements are evidently unsustainable.”