Ever wondered what the relationship is between the contract flooring industry, including CFA members, and the CITB? Shaun has the story…
CFA members and the wider contract flooring industry have an unusual relationship with the CITB. It’s fairly unique in that products that CFA members fit aren’t automatically deemed in scope. For many construction sectors everything they do is in scope and as such all their specialist contractors pay the CITB levy (tax?).
For many CFA members and companies who mainly fit timber, resilient and textile products only timber and subfloor preparation products are in-scope, whereas textile and resilient flooring are out of scope. Therefore, depending on the mix of activity, some CFA members pay the CITB levy, and claim grant funding for training undertaken, and some do not.
All flooring products have been classified, and in reality, given that most companies fit a range of flooring types, this means that a calculation based on the time spent fitting various materials, has to be conducted. If more than 50% of a contractor’s time is spent fitting in-scope materials, the contractor will have to pay the CITB levy but can consequently claim additional grant funding (over and above any standard government funding) for training, including the most obvious, apprenticeships. I stress that everyone can claim basic funding for apprentices for their college training, whether in or out of scope. CITB funding is on top.
‘Why are some flooring products out of scope?’ is something I have been asked many times and may well return to in another article. In broad terms, CITB has taken a historic view that a timber floor, even as a floor finish, is generally a construction product and becomes part of the fabric of the building.
Textile and resilient flooring on the other hand, CITB feel is more of a decorative element, regularly replaced and does not cross the line to become a construction product like windows or a roof. We have engaged with CITB to understand this classification process and concluded that it is somewhat subjective. They have also advised that it is not something easily altered after such a long time, with failed legal challenges underpinning their position.
After a CITB scope review in late 2020 of more than 60 flooring contractors in England and Scotland, a small number of companies were advised they now fall outside of levy scope, leaving some employers to directly fund ongoing and future apprenticeship intakes that had previously been co-funded by CITB.
When our members informed us of this, a sub-committee of CFA Council members was formed to assess what had happened and resolve the issue for our members. Garry Bateman (Forbo Flooring Systems UK) served as chair of the sub-committee as well as offering a manufacturers perspective. The five additional places were made up of CFA Council members, Hamish Macgregor (Macgregor Flooring), Tony Mathé (Hillside Contracts), Alan Gayle (AG Flooring), John Butler (J B Contracts), Beverley MacFarlane (Loughton Contracts). With representation from both CITB levy paying and non-levy paying companies we were confident we had the remit of fully researching the matter and finding a solution.
Over several meetings with CITB in 2021, the sub-committee identified that the terminology used to describe flooring products on CITB levy paperwork was out of date and CITB were entirely open to amending this. In addition, if new products were identified or not covered by current or new classifications, these could also be reviewed. CITB welcomed CFA’s input to improve information published to help flooring contractors understand the rules of engagement and ensure that their businesses are appropriately classified.
The sub-committee therefore made suggestions on terminology used within CITB’s flooring guidance and relevant paperwork. This was completed in early 2022, and in May 2022 CITB confirmed they had updated with following terminology in terms of scope:
Construction (In-Scope Activity)
- Timber (solid & engineered wood)
- Timber-based laminates
- Ceramic tiles & natural stone
- Subfloor Preparation (inc primer, DPM, smoothing compounds
- and fabricated underlayments)
- Flooring accessories (nosings & skirting)
Non-Construction (Out of Scope Activity)
- Terrazzo/mosaic flooring
- Textile (inc broadloom and carpet tile)
- Entrance Flooring Systems
- Mats (looselay)
- Resilient flooring (rubber, cork, linoleum and vinyl
- including looselay floor panels)
This review of terminology and improvement to the forms issued means that companies should no longer be easily confused and unknowingly create a CITB return that classifies them incorrectly. The CFA and its council recognise this as another notable success in lobbying and engaging with CITB on matters that affect not just our members, but the wider flooring industry. In undertaking this work, the CFA demonstrated our understanding of the importance of the need for accessible funding and support to provide training for the future skills and labour of the flooring industry.
That said, understanding all the opportunities and best practice approach can remain a challenge. For CFA members, I offer direct support and advice helping them to make the best training choices for their businesses. I often signpost to resources such as the Contract Flooring Industry Training Guide. I’m confident in saying I can help members to cost-effectively grow their businesses and increase profitability. If you’d like to know more about any of the subjects discussed above, please get in touch.
Shaun Wadsworth is CFA & FITA training manager