A Qualified Workforce: by Mark Priestman

Mark Priestman is a Partner at Priestman Associates LLP, a leading faÁade preservation project consultancy, from stonemasonry and heritage skills through to site supervision and conservation management. The partnership is trusted by the leading brands of the sector as an NVQ provider for experienced, upskiller and apprentice workers. 07876 687212. mark@priestmanweb.com.

When enrolling new learners, one of the first questions I pose to their employer is: Are you CITB registered?

At this point I either get a “Yes!” followed by a gleeful rundown of how much was received back in grants last year; or I get a “Well… er!” (shuffle shuffle).

So, I thought I would write something about CITB registration in this column.

To quote CITB itself: “Under the Industrial Training Act 1982 and consequent Levy Orders, CITB must raise a levy assessment on all employers in the construction industry.” 

But what exactly is the construction industry?  CITB explains: “The following activities are construction ac-tivities for CITB Levy purposes... Building repair and maintenance, façade preservation, paving… preparing and fixing stone for building, including stonemasonry…”

The list is long and I have cherrypicked the elements most relevant to the readership of this magazine.

Realistically, most contractors in our sector come under the Industrial Training Act 1982 and should be CITB registered, even though many aren’t. 

So what is involved in being a CITB registered firm?

People always worry about the levy. How much you pay (if you will need to pay anything at all) is based on your total wage bill. For the purposes of the current levy, that includes PAYE employees and Construction Industry Scheme (CIS) subcontractors you employ, although the levy is not applied to CIS subcontractors you don’t make CIS deductions from.

The rates are:

  • 0.35% on payroll staff
  • 1.25% on CIS subcontractors (net paid CIS).

But… if your total wage bill is between £80,000 and £399,999 your organisation already receives a 50% discount on your levy in any case. This is called the ‘Small Business Levy Reduction’.

And… if your total wage bill is under £80,000 you will not have to pay the levy at all. This is called the ‘Small Business Levy Exemption’.

Yet… you are still be able to claim grants and funding as an ‘in-scope’ business.

To read more about the levy and grants go to the CITB’s website at bit.ly/CITBlevy.

The Levy taketh away (in some cases) but the Levy also giveth back.

CITB registered firms benefit in a number of ways. The CITB offers support and convenes interest groups as well as paying out funding and grants.


  • Skills and training fund – Every 12 months smaller CITB registered firms can apply for this funding
  • Leadership and management development fund – This is a new fund for the larger contractors


  • Use a CITB Approved Training Organisation and you can claim back attendance grants on some of the courses
  • Achievement grant for approved short courses
  • NVQ achievement grant (currently £600 per achiever)
  • Specialist Applied-Skills Programme (my business offers two of these, one in Façade Preservation, the other in Stone Fixing). This grant makes the programme fee-neutral.

To read more about the CITB’s grants and funding, including full terms and conditions, go to bit.ly/CITBgrants.

Apart from complying with the Industrial Training Act 1982, registering with the CITB might well pay back good dividends to your business, and not just in grants and funding but, even more importantly, by assist-ing your business to take a professional approach to training with a focus on skills development.

Wishing you the best in all your endeavours to ‘qualify the workforce!’