Energy & Utility Skills Chief Executive Nick Ellins has commented publicly on the recent decision and precedent set by the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) to suspend bills for their statutory Levy.
The CITB’s board met on March 25, and gave final approval to suspend the issue of its levy bills, due for payment in 2020, for an initial period of three months. The bills will subsequently be issued for the full year. The delay will provide immediate financial relief to construction employers during the coronavirus crisis. In normal times CITB assesses and sends out levy bills each April in accordance with legal requirements. CITB levy bills are usually due for payment in May, but CITB will not seek collection on the suspended bills until August, or later if possible.
Nick Ellins advised “We are seeking a similar common sense approach right now for the employers paying their Apprenticeship Levy tax throughout the pandemic period. They are realistically blocked by government pandemic rules from training their apprentices or utilising the funds. At minimum, a pragmatic extension should be immediately started for the two-year expiry date on the funds within the employers’ digital accounts, so that they lose nothing, and put as much financial investment back into their human capital as possible post-incident. What the CITB has done is intellectually right and directly supportive of employers, now it’s down to Treasury and the education and skills departments to show leadership. The Construction Leadership Council is seeking exactly the same Apprenticeship Levy solution for their supply chain companies, so this is no single-body request.”
“With a clear precedent now set through another statutory Levy, HM Treasury has no reason to delay, or worry about breaking difficult new ground for the political and policy leaders. We urge them to act now and make an intervention that will directly help employers today. It is a totally logical action, given the ‘employer-led’ tax that is being taken, has no realistic chance of being recovered, and some of these same employers are seeking financial help from government in other areas with furlough and borrowing mechanisms.”
Of the CITB decision, Sarah Beale, CITB chief executive, said, “Everyone in construction is facing extreme pressure at the moment and it’s right that we provide the financial relief we can to protect employers and ensure that the industry is as prepared as possible for the economic recovery that will come when the crisis lifts.
“CITB is reviewing all of its work to respond to the rapidly changing skills needs of industry. We are continuing to re-evaluate our services, funding and grants to adapt them to meet industry’s changing priority needs.”
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