Government announces intention to retain CITB and apprenticeship levy

Anne Wilton MP, the minister of state for apprenticeships and skills and minister for women, has sent a letter to James Wates of the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) to announce that that government’s review of the sector has resulted in a recommendation to continue with the scheme.

Along with plans to publish the review in October this year, a delay due to the snap election announced in late spring, the minister told Wates in the letter: “The CITB has an important role to play in supporting the industry to meet those challenges, and also that the industry needs to provide stronger leadership to make sure it gets what it needs from the CITB, both informing and supporting its plans. We have, to that end, encouraged closer dialogue between the Construction Leadership Council and the CITB.”

Wilton recognised potential issues with firms who are currently expected to pay two levies: “We also know that some firms have expressed concern about paying the apprenticeship levy as well as the construction levy. We understand that concern, and the issue of affordability. But the purpose of the apprenticeship levy is quite different from the industry training levy: it is specifically to support and incentivise investment in apprenticeships.

“The CITB may wish to consider whether there is more you can do to help the industry to get the most from the apprenticeship levy, and we will of course continue to discuss with you any particular issues you find as the new apprenticeship arrangements bed down.”

Already under way is a review of the structure of the CITB, with aims to make it more efficient and to give those paying the levy a higher level of satisfaction that the money is being well spent. The letter says: “I know you and your colleagues at CITB have now started to implement a major reform programme to reduce the size of the organisation and make it more focused on those aspects of the skills agenda where there is clear market failure, or where a collective approach to training can deliver real benefits to employers, including small businesses”, then continues, “ We hope that the CITB’s reform programme will be enough to persuade industry colleagues to support the CITB’s levy proposals this summer. If the industry decides not to support the levy, CITB may have to close. That would have significant financial costs, and we would have to consider carefully how those costs should be met.”

In respect of Wates’ role as chair of the board, which ends in March 2018, Wilton concludes: “We are grateful for the leadership that you have provided to CITB over the last few years. We will be setting in hand the process of appointing your successor in the autumn, once the final review report has been published, and look forward to working in partnership with CITB to find your successor. We look forward to continuing to work with CITB over the coming years.”

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