- Company hits training quango with £10.5m grant claim
- Lodges appeal against court judgment on levy scope
Hudson Contract Services Ltd, part of the Hudson Contract group, has served CITB with a £10.5m grant claim, the biggest in the history of the levy.
The move came after the Court of Appeal ruled the company was within scope of CITB’s levy-raising powers.
Hudson has already lodged an appeal against the judgment.
Ian Anfield, managing director, said: “The long-running dispute with CITB, which started in 2014, has veered from the sublime to the ridiculous.
“The latest judgment opens up the prospect of Hudson Contract Services Ltd, which had a staff of 30 payroll and auditing employees, becoming the largest levy payer since CITB was set up in the early 1960s.
“The levy at the centre of this dispute is for 2016 and amounts to £7.9m. This would be double the levy typically paid by a major contractor if it ever falls due.
“The judgment also forces CITB to assess a protective grant claim of £10.5m for the same year, which was delivered on two pallet trucks in February.”
Hudson Contract Services Ltd has argued consistently that by any sensible analysis it was not a construction company: it did not enter into contracts to carry out construction work and simply provided business services to small and medium-sized construction firms.
Mr Anfield added: “We don’t know exactly how or when this dispute will end. We will either be found to be out of scope at the next round of appeal, or there will be an offset of grant against levy which could itself involve the courts.
“But we do know that CITB has lost its way since I attended its training college at Bircham Newton in 1990 as a Balfour Beatty apprentice.
“CITB no longer delivers training, has nothing to do with CSCS cards and spends millions of pounds of levy payers’ money on itself and activities that are questionable at best.
“Ultimately, if CITB had half of the industry support it claims to have, we would have just added the levy to our fees and clients would have been happy to pay.
“However, the reality is the vast majority of Hudson Contract Services Ltd’s 2,000 SME clients saw no value in CITB and we took this stand on their behalf.”
The Hudson Contract group completed a restructuring in 2018, effectively capping off the issue and making it an historic one.
Mr Anfield said: “While we have far more important issues to deal with for clients of our other businesses – such as IR35 and reverse charge VAT – the CITB dispute will rumble on in the background for as long as it takes to achieve the correct result.”
Hudson Contract, founded in 1996, is the UK’s largest professional workplace audit and Construction Industry Scheme (CIS) contract provider. The family-owned group provides audit contract and payroll services to more than 2,200 construction SMEs, on whose behalf it processed 1.7m payments last year.