Coronavirus update for construction: Tuesday 31

Grant Prior 2 months ago
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Covid-19 Update – 31 March 2020
Introduction
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.

 

The Construction Minister, Nadhim Zahawi,has specifically identified construction as an example of work that should continue during the coronavirus pandemic, stating inThe Telegraph on Sunday: “There will always be some work that cannot be done from home, whether it is construction orpacking boxes in an Amazon warehouse–but we still need houses built and for deliveries to be made”.

Government policy remains that construction sites should stay open if work can be undertaken in compliance with the Site Operating Procedures.Companies across the sector are continuously making and reviewing decisions on whether to keep sites open based on their ability to implement the Site Operating Procedures.

Build UK members have confirmed that projects in London continue to be particularly severely restricted as a result. A number of our key Client members confirmed on a call yesterday that they are working collaboratively with their supply chains to find a way through the current situation on each project,which includes extensions of time and LAD holidays.

Build UK Contractor members have been clear that no-one should be required to travel to,or work on,their sites if the PHE guidance on social distancing cannot be met. Where we receive evidence that this is not the case on particular projects,we are providing feedback to the company concerned.

Trade bodies in Scotland,includingt he Scottish Contractors Group,have set up the Construction Industry Coronavirus Forum to lead the industry response to the pandemic.

The position on construction work in Scotland is not clear,with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon advising that “sites should close unless the building being worked on is essential–such as a hospital” without then specifying what else is considered essential.

The Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Economy Fair Work and Culture has written to representatives in the industry,stating: “We are considering whether guidance could be issued to determine if a construction site can be safely operated in line with social distancing”.

New industry survey

As part of our work to assess the impact of Covid-19 on the construction sector, we have been carrying out a series of surveys. Thank you to all firms that have taken part in the surveys. The latest version can be found at the following link here. While the questions are similar to previous versions, please do fill in this version as it allows us to assess changes in the industry over time.

 

HMRC Webinar

HM Revenue & Customs are to run a webinar on ‘Covid-19 – helping employers to support employees.’ This webinar will cover the Covid-19 Job Retention Scheme; furloughed workers; Statutory Sick Pay; and support available to employers for outstanding payments to HMRC. For more information and to choose a date and time, click here.

 

Self-employment Income Support Scheme

The Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will support self-employed individuals (including members of partnerships) whose income has been negatively impacted by COVID-19. The scheme will provide a grant to self-employed individuals or partnerships, worth 80% of their profits up to a cap of £2,500 per month. The business support website provides more information and FAQs.

 

Infrastructure & Projects Authority – Best Practice

Following Government advice that construction should continue where it can happen in a way that follows Public Health England and industry guidance, the Infrastructure & Projects Authority wish to share examples of good practice. Click here to download a template where you can enter details of positive examples of where sites are continuing to operate safety and the benefits of this. Completed forms should be returned to charlotte.hibbs@ipa.gov.uk

 

CITB

The latest updates from CITB including details of new Online Site Safety Training, and a checklist for apprentice safety, can be found at the its dedicated Covid-19 website here.

 

Wales

The Welsh Government has outlined a £500 million fund to respond to Coronavirus:

  • a new £100 million Development Bank of Wales fund will be available for companies experiencing cash flow problems as a result of the pandemic and will provide loans of between £5,000 and £250,000 at favourable interest rates
  • businesses will also be able to benefit from a £400 million emergency pot providing:
    • Grants of £10,000 for micro-businesses employing up to nine people. This includes sole traders employing staff. Qualifying businesses will be able to apply by mid-April.
    • Grants of up to £100,000 for small and medium-sized firms with between 10 and 249 employees. Qualifying businesses will be able to apply from next week.
    • Support for larger Welsh companies, which are of critical social or economic importance to Wales. This element will be open to qualifying businesses within the next two weeks.

The £500 million Economic Resilience Fund will support businesses forced to temporarily cease trading – to go into “hibernation” – or which need cash-flow support to adapt to a remote way of working.

 

Network Rail

To support its supply chain Network Rail, from yesterday (30 March), payment to suppliers will be made immediately, or as close to immediately as possible, following approval. It is expected that any payments will then be flowed down to supply chain straight away.

 

The Briefing has been prepared in collaboration between the industry’s leading trade and representative bodies: Association for Consultancy & Engineering, Builders Merchant Federation, Build UK, Chartered Institute of Building, Civil Engineering Contractors Association, Construction Industry Council, Construction Plant-hire Association, Construction Products Association, Electrical Contractors’ Association (ECA), 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, Infrastructure Intelligence, and New Civil Engineer for support in distribution to the wider industry.

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