This short briefing has been prepared on behalf of the UK construction sector to brief companies and individuals on the ongoing repercussions of the Covid-19 coronavirus for our sector.
UK Government update on staying at home
On Monday evening the Prime Minister outlined additional measures to control the spread of Coronavirus. This includes stronger restrictions on staying at home, and closure of non-essential shops and community spaces. The Government statement on these measures is here.
It does not specify guidance to construction but says that one of four reasons to leave home is “Travelling to and from work, but only where this absolutely cannot be done from home”. It also states there should be no gatherings of more than 2 people except for families of where “the gathering is essential for work purposes – but workers should be trying to minimise all meetings and other gatherings in the workplace.”
Construction Leadership Council statement
“We are in exceptional circumstances and are doing our utmost to keep construction sites operational wherever it is practical and safe to do so. Whilst the guidance from Public Health England may change in future, for the time being construction sites of any size that are operating during the Coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic need to ensure they are protecting their workforce and minimising the risk of spread of infection.
To implement the Government’s social distancing recommendation the Construction Leadership Council has now published Site Operating Procedures. I would strongly recommend that these procedures are implemented by every operational construction site, with the aim of us having a standard approach across the industry that all firms and workers can adopt.
It is also vital that the health and safety requirements of any construction activity must not be compromised at this time. If an activity cannot be undertaken safely due to a lack of suitably qualified personnel being available, or social distancing being implemented, it should not take place. We are aware that emergency services are also under great pressure and may not be in a position to respond as quickly as usual” Andy Mitchell, Chair, Construction Leadership Council
Site Operating Procedures are available here.
The Scottish Government has confirmed that it is now advising construction sites to close. It is currently developing guidance for business on how to respond, and how to confirm whether their activities are essential or non-essential
Covid-19 Construction Industry Taskforce
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has established a taskforce to co-ordinate the industry’s response to the Covid-19 crisis. Representatives from the Constriction Leadership Council, Infrastructure Client Group and the sector’s main trade federations are collaborating to develop guidance for industry, and to collect feedback from industry to support Government actions. The group is focussing on the safe operation of existing sites, and how to ensure appropriate support for construction businesses of all sizes.
CITB update – Apprenticeships
CITB is helping SMEs with the funding of apprenticeships by bringing forward payment of some apprenticeship grants. Details will be announced shortly. In the meantime CITB urges all employers not to dismiss any apprentices without first speaking to its Apprenticeship team: Employer.ApprenticeshipQueries@citb.co.uk
Apprenticeship Officers will continue to be employers’ point of contact. A letter was sent to all apprentices on 19 March advising them that their Apprenticeship Officer will be in touch. Apprentice reviews and engagement will be delivered via phone or Skype.
CITB is working with Education and Skills Funding Agency to discuss the existing funding rules around breaks in learning for apprentices. Additionally we are working with IfATE to look at the impact that the Apprenticeships Frameworks switch off on July 31st 2020 will have, in light of the inevitable delays to achievement. We will keep you updated on the outcomes of those discussions.
The CITB Levy
CITB is examining a range of options to help employers with the Levy. This is a complex issue and a top priority. CITB will do everything we can to support industry. The CITB Board is meeting this week to discuss its options.
Your feedback is vital – new survey 23 March
The construction industry’s federations are in regular dialogue with representatives from the UK Government to discuss the impact of Covid-19. To support this work we need feedback from businesses as to how they are affected by the pandemic.
Please take 5 minutes to fill in this survey to ensure that this work is supported by the most up-to-date feedback from industry. The new survey can be found here.
The Briefing has been prepared in collaboration between the industry’s leading trade and representative bodies: Association for Consultancy & Engineering, Build UK, Chartered Institute of Building, Civil Engineering Contractors Association, Construction Plant-hire Association, Construction Products Association, Electrical Contractors Association, Federation of Master Builders, National Federation of Builders, and Institution of Civil Engineers.
We are grateful to Building, Construction Enquirer, Construction Manager, Construction News, Highways and New Civil Engineer for support in distribution to the wider industry.