The government has rejected a request from the Construction Industry Training Board to lower the threshold at which firms pay the construction levy.

The CITB wanted the government to lower the threshold from companies with a PAYE tax bill of £61 000 to those with a bill of £45 000. But the CITB is still intending to ask the government to increase the levy to 0.5% of a firm’s PAYE bill in the year 2000 – up from 0.38% at present.

Minister for lifelong learning George Mudie told CITB chairman Hugh Try that lowering the threshold to £45 000 would create a burden on small businesses, something the government was anxious to avoid.

Try said he was disappointed by the government’s decision. He said any adverse effect on small businesses was outweighed by the fact that a reduction would have created a more equitable framework, ensuring that all those that benefited from CITB training grants also contributed.

However, he said the government had been under pressure to raise the threshold to exclude more small companies from the levy.

The demand for a lowering of the threshold was prompted by demands from a number of construction employer federations.

A CITB statement said: “The federations believe, in principle, that all construction business should contribute to the cost of supporting training, particularly when all CITB-registered employers are eligible for training grants – even those not required to pay the levy.”