ConstructionSkills’ cutbacks could mean companies get 20% less in training grants than before, which is why it is important to be aware of all the changes

If you’re not aware of ConstructionSkills’ cutbacks to its grant scheme you soon will be: letters detailing the changes for 2009/10 have recently gone out and they came into effect on 1 August.

The changes will force many companies to rethink training provision, with some firms facing cuts to their grants of up to 20%. Grants that have been claimed under a training plan have been drastically reduced and the procedure for claiming them is more complex.

The reasons behind the decision to reduce grants have been widely publicised – there are insufficient funds available to continue paying at the old rates. With the reduction in employment levels and work, the income received from the levy is bound to reduce further, so the situation is likely to get worse rather than better.

The main reductions will be:

  • The daily rate has been cut by 12.5%, from £27.50 to £24
  • Most supplementary payments have been cut by a staggering 60%, from £25 to £10
  • The per capita grant for submitting a training plan has dropped 10%, from £10 to £9
  • The minimum grant for submitting a training plan is reduced from £500 to £450
  • Technical and professional achievement grants have gone down from £1,000 to £500
  • Many other achievement grants – for example, for NVQs – go down 10%
  • There will be no grant for passing CIOB modules, committing to, or achieving, Investors in People status or the health and safety touch screen test.

Many of the additional bureaucratic measures being introduced are to try to deal with problems arising from the mismanagement of claims, including falsely made claims. The main new rules are:

  • Training plans will have to have prescribed categories of training on them, not just the subject. For example, manual handling training will have to come under “health and safety”; site waste management plan training will have to come under “sustainability and environmental”
  • The plan must contain a summary of the number of days/hours for each category
  • Toolbox talks will have to have written aims, course content and timing
  • Training plans will have to be submitted within one month of the start and end dates – not three months, as now
  • Payments will be made as follows:
  • - The initial payment will be only the per capita amount
  • - After four and eight months, reconciliation will have to be submitted and payments made on the basis of what has been done (at present only one is necessary at six months)
  • - The final payment will be made on the basis of a TP2 claim form submitted at year end
  • If you are not on a training plan and claim the one-day and half-day short duration grants for health and safety training for site staff, the maximum amount you can claim in the year has been halved to £5,000.
  • Everyone on a training plan will have to submit a new style application. Those that do not use the “standard” CITB/CS Excel spreadsheet will have to spend time and money developing the appropriate software.

These changes will undoubtedly have an impact on every construction firm that claims grants. For example, a business that employs 100 people and does an average of two days training per person per year would have received about £7,875 in 2008/09. This year it will only get £6,180 – a 20% reduction. The CSCS may be one of the main casualties, as no refund is available for the health and safety touch screen test, so firms may not bother.

We’re all trading in difficult conditions, but it is vital that companies continue to invest in training to ensure employees reach the highest standards and they are ready for the upturn. They need to ensure they claim all the grant they are entitled to and it would also be wise to look at outsourcing training functions to save time and money and gain the best value.