General union GMB has quit a government New Deal training scheme after the company behind it was hit by allegations of financial irregularities.
The union withdrew its endorsement of Build On Skills, a private company that provides health and safety training, after the Construction Industry Training Board launched an investigation into alleged misuse of funding at another company with which it was linked.
GMB construction officer Allan Black said the GMB severed its ties with Build On Skills nine weeks ago, after it was informed of the alleged irregularities. He said: “We no longer have any connection with the company.” The company being investigated by the CITB is brickwork contractor Galostar. Eddie Garty, who owns Galostar, told Building at the beginning of September that he had sold Build On Skills to Christine Abbott, a training consultant, “about two months ago” and was no longer connected with the firm. He is, however, listed at Companies House as secretary and one of two directors of Build On Skills.
The CITB, which has ended funding to both Galostar and Build On Skills, is investigating whether Galostar applied for CITB cash for training that was already being funded under the New Deal. Garty denies that Galostar ever applied for CITB funding. CITB representatives are scheduled to meet Abbott later this month.
When first contacted by Building last month, Abbott said Build On Skills was funded by Garty and that she had been brought in as a consultant.
However, the following week, Abbott said: “I have to thank Building because you have made me realise that as a training organisation, we should be independent from contractors with their own agenda. Galostar is no longer anything to do with Build On Skills.” Abbott has been unavailable for comment since then. Two weeks ago, Garty told Building: “Abbott offered to buy the company off me when I decided to pull out. I sold it because it didn’t make business sense.” He declined to say how much he had sold the company for. He added: “I did take on five lads from Build On Skills but the longest they lasted was about three weeks. “The kind of kids it caters for are high risk. The New Deal is a last chance saloon for them.”
The GMB’s Black said that the training scheme had been launched by Paul Wells, Build On Skills’ operations manager, who has left the company after a dispute with Garty. Wells was not available for comment.
Galostar hit the headlines last year when Tarmac removed the firm from its tender lists after Building revealed that it was encouraging operatives to become shareholders in shell companies to avoid paying employers’ class 1 National Insurance contributions.