THE CONSTRUCTION Industry Training Board is asking contractors to increase levy payments by almost 25 per cent.
Plans for the rise are one of two main proposals in a levy consultation document being circulated throughout the industry.
The other option includes a 15 per cent cut in the previously proposed levy payment for the period 2002 to 2004.
The proposed hike is wanted to fund the likely increase in the cost of skills certification schemes. The board pays training grants to workers signing up for skills schemes promoted by construction clients and anti-cowboy builder initiatives.
A CITB spokesman said: 'We are saying to the industry that if these schemes take off then we will suffer huge deficits at the existing levy rates.'
The current levy rates are 0.5 per cent for employees and 2.28 per cent for selfemployed workers with a unified rate of 0.87 currently planned for 2002.
Experts at the board have drawn up scenarios for various take-ups for the certification schemes. They predict a deficit of more than £30 million by 2002 if the clients' charter demanding registered workers covers all projects and the cowboy builders initiative is a success, leading to one qualified worker for every one unqualified. That level of registration would force the board to raise levy rates for employees and labouronly subcontractors to 1.08 per cent in 2002.
A 'most likely' scenario has also been drawn-up, where the cowboy builder initiative succeeds with a lower ratio of one qualified worker to two unqualified and the client charter covers only larger projects.
That would allow the board to reduce the levy to 0.75 per cent from 0.87 while still offering 'good support' for the registration schemes.
The consultation document states: 'The CITB should not plan its financial provisions on the basis of the failure of the cowboy builder and clients' charter initiatives.'
A board spokesman said: 'A properly registered workforce is a great opportunity for the industry and the CITB should be ready to play its part.'
Comments on the proposals must be with the CITB by early July before final levy proposals are drawn up in September.