Later this year, the Construction Industry Training Board will consult with the construction industry at large about whether it will be allowed to continue raising levy cash from contractors.
However concerns have been raised within the industry about the sway trade federations will have in the vote, with critics claiming that some construction bodies may not properly consult with their members which will lead to a skewed result.
There has also been speculation of a possible conflict of interest in respect of CITB chairman James Wates who is also co-chairman of leading construction collective Build UK.
CITB policy director Steve Radley was quick to allay concerns, maintaining that an independent surveying company would be talking to 6,000 individual contractors.
In an interview with Construction Enquirer, he said: “We will be scrutinising the trade federations over how they consult with their members and will be holding one-to-one meetings with them to discuss that. We need to get out there and talk to the industry and that is what we will be doing.”
Mr Radley also refuted any conflict of interest with the Build UK co-chairman: “I don’t see any conflict with James Wates because we will be talking with Build UK members.”
However, Ian Anfield, of CIS Contract provider Hudson Contract, is sceptical about the voting process: “The federations can claim a block vote for the companies they represent if more than half of the members in each of the federations is consulted and confirms consent. In previous years the federations have not done this properly but given consent anyway and CITB never questioned how those decisions were reached.”
David Frise, CEO of trade body FIS countered this by stressing the role of the federations as mediators between their members and the CITB:
“Our members are naturally reticent to talk to CITB, a body that many consider to be a tax collector. FIS intends to consult with its membership, providing them with the facts on both sides of the argument.”
The CITB needs to win more than 50% of the construction vote in terms of numbers of levy payers and value of the levy paid.
In terms of value of the levy paid, construction trade bodies will make up 59% of the vote and 35% in terms of numbers. The voting balance in each case will be made up of individual firms.