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Pressure mounts on ConstructionSkills over training levy contributions

The future of the Construction-Skills training levy has been questioned after a multinational company won exemption from payment ahead of a major consultation on the scheme.

An appeal was brought by a major supermarket shelving supplier and installer, and the lawyer representing the firm believes the out-of-court settlement paves the way for numerous organisations to follow suit.

Wright Hassal senior associate for construction Stuart Thwaites (pictured) said the outcome was significant as it highlighted the “grey area” surrounding the levy.

He said the result was “very rare” but urged other firms to take note, as there were numerous companies peripheral to construction that could follow suit.

“Given that the cost of paying the levy can run to tens of thousands of pounds, any company that falls into this grey area would do well to consider challenging their obligation to pay,” he said.

ConstructionSkills played down the claims, arguing it routinely worked with construction firms to assess their levy contribution.

A spokesman said: “In this instance, once we received the full information from the employer, our assessors quickly established that they were not liable to pay.

“In line with standard procedure, this was settled outside of court and without any payment being made to ConstructionSkills.”

Construction barrister and SEC Group chief executive Professor Rudi Klein suggested the appeal was important, as numerous segments of the industry “have very real concerns with ConstructionSkills”.

He argued there may be scope for a judicial review on the grounds that the training board was acting beyond the scope of legislation in the way it manages the levy.

“Giving [some] companies significantly less in grant than they put into the levy surely can’t be an appropriate way to manage a statutory power,” he added.

The debate comes ahead of a major consultation on the future of the levy, which takes place every three years.

As H&V News went to press, ConstructionSkills announced an extra 12 per cent supplementary payment on grant claims for the next three years. The extra cash will be added to claims from 1 August, topping up the 10 per cent rate introduced last year.