Build UK Appoints New Chair

Build UK Appoints New Chair

Paul Cossell, Vice Chair of ISG, has been elected as the new Build UK Chair. Paul has served as a Director on the Build UK Board since September 2020 and replaces Andy Steele, who stepped down in November 2021.

Commenting on his appointment, Paul said:

“It is a privilege to be the new Chair of Build UK. I believe passionately in the value of a powerful voice representing our industry at the highest levels. Throughout the pandemic, as we tackle the multi‐generational challenge of building greener, better and faster and the associated need to attract the brightest and best talent into our industry, Build UK has proved to be a dynamic force for transformational change.”

Back to basics – your essential New Year checklist

Back to basics – your essential New Year checklist

One of the biggest lessons 2021 taught us is just how important HR and Health & Safety compliance is for keeping your business and your people safe.

To help start 2022 on the right track, FIS Associate Member and HR and employment law specialists Citation, have pulled together their essential HR and Health & Safety pointers to help you get a handle on your business’ compliance from the very start.


Learn some essential points from both an HR and Health & Safety perspective to help get a handle on the foundations of compliance, including:

  • • Important updates to documentation such as contracts and handbooks
  • • Reminders about recruitment, performance reviews, training and onboarding
  • • Reviewing and updating risk assessments, plus other assessments such as fire risk and legionella
  • • Essential testing and training, particularly if procedures have since changed.

Your FIS member benefit
If you’d like to chat about how Citation can help with the HR and Health & Safety side of your business, just give them a call on 0345 844 1111, or fill in their call-back form and they’ll get right back to you. Quote ‘The Finishes and Interiors Sector’ when enquiring to access your member benefit.

Prompt payment threshold to be increased from April

Prompt payment threshold to be increased from April

The prompt payment threshold for suppliers bidding for Government contracts above £5 million per annum will be increased again from 1 April 2022. In accordance with updated Procurement Policy Note (PPN) 08/21, suppliers will be required to show that they pay 90% of invoices within 60 days and have an action plan in place to achieve the required standard of 95% in future, otherwise they risk being prevented from bidding. Currently a company can still pass if they pay 85% of invoices within 60 days and submit an action plan, and the Cabinet Office is continuing to take a phased approach with the threshold being “ratcheted up over time until it reaches 95%”.
Forum changes name to Construction Industry Collective Voice (CICV)

Forum changes name to Construction Industry Collective Voice (CICV)

After nearly two years dedicated to steering the Scottish building sector through the worst crisis in its history, the Forum has changed its name to reflect its expanded remit and ongoing collaborative vision for the future.

The unique alliance of trade associations and professional bodies has been rebranded as the Construction Industry Collective Voice (CICV), putting more emphasis on its shared focus and willingness to tackle the many other issues currently facing the construction industry in Scotland.

The move has been hailed as a “natural evolution” for the body, whose range of work now includes Brexit, net zero, supply chain, employment and skills, project bank accounts and the launch of a dedicated Green Home Festival in 2022.

Alan Wilson, CICV Chair and Managing Director of electrical trade association SELECT, said:

“The New Year is a time for new beginnings and this change of name is a logical step for a body which has exceeded expectations in every department.

“As we have all seen recently, the pandemic can still surprise us, but the strong feeling across the organisation is that it is time to move on from purely Covid-related activity and turn our collective attentions to many other pressing matters.

“This new purpose will be underpinned by the teamwork and togetherness which the CICV has generated, as well as the sharing of ideas and information which has worked so well and which has produced such good results.

“By retaining the CICV initials which have become so well known across the industry, the body can maintain its respected profile and build on the unprecedented collaboration and co-operation which has changed ways of thinking and working across the built environment.”

Iain McIlwee, Chief Executve of FIS, which is a member of CICV said:

“What an amazing group, Construction Industry Collective Voice (CICV) is and an example of something good that has come out of the pandemic era – a real beacon of hope.  For me the CICV epitomises what can be achieved if there is a desire to collaborate, good people step up and lead and everybody mucks in.  We are proud to have played our part, grateful to colleagues for their support and look forward to working with CICV to help drive positive change in the construction sector in Scotland”.

In another first, the body has also created a new position of Vice Chair, with the inaugural post being filled by Fiona Hodgson, Chief Executive of the Scottish and Northern Ireland Plumbing Employers’ Federation (SNIPEF). Fiona said:

“I am delighted and extremely honoured to take on this important role and help steer the ongoing work of the CICV through this natural evolution.

“As we move on at this time, it is worth reflecting on the remarkable co-operation and collaborative working which the organisation has fostered in an industry which previously has been seen as very competitive, and even confrontational.

“One of the great lessons of the pandemic months has been that we are much stronger together and it will be in that spirit that we now devote our efforts to securing the future of a great industry and all the people in it.”

Ms Hodgson added:

“The new name recognises that we have become the authoritative voice for the sector, speaking strongly on its behalf and fighting for the future of all its disparate elements.

“Our members operate throughout Scotland’s built environment supply chain, and the organisation is still attracting new members, so it is clear that there is a healthy appetite for the services which the CICV will continue to offer as we move forward in 2022.”

Since its creation, the CICV has maintained a steady supply of information and practical advice to the sector as well as carrying out surveys, hosting webinars and speaking directly to Scottish Government on a wide range of issues.

Its free resources included vital updates on commercial, employment and health and safety matters, delivering a strong pipeline of relevant, practical and easy-to-understand information that helped steer the sector through the darkest days of the pandemic. The CICV is now committing these considerable joint resources to the long-term health and sustainable growth of a sector which is a major economic multiplier, employing around 175,000 people in Scotland and contributing £21.5 billion to GDP.

A quick round-up of what the new COVID Guidelines mean to you

A quick round-up of what the new COVID Guidelines mean to you

Updated 11 January 2022 – changes to testing requirements – new flowchart issued by BuildUK.  

The UK faces a new COVID challenge at the start of 2022 with evidence pointing to a highly transmissible, but thankfully less severe strain.   With the highest level of cases the UK remains on a high state of alert with tactics being adopted across the the devolved nations focussed on stemming transmission, protecting the NHS and encouraging individuals to get booster jabs.  Below is a quick summary of what the latest announcements mean for you:

In England

The key change for businesses related to the shift to Plan B is that the Government’s Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19) have been updated to reflect that those who can, should work from home.  If an individual cannot work from home then they should continue to go into work, and hence construction, retail and manufacturing sites should continue to operate. Maintaining a safe workplace is critical and members should continue to minimise the risk of transmission.  The Site Operating Procedures remain available as a reference document and will be reviewed and updated if necessary (they have not been changed at this time).

The rules have changed regarding the required self-isolation period after testing positive for COVID-19 and Build UK has updated the COVID-19 flowchart to reflect the current position and you can find the latest version here (11.1.22).

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland an individual may test to release after 7 days, in Scotland 10 days remains the rule.  The NHS rules on when to start counting and testing are summarised below.

Day 0 Symptoms begin or test taken
Day 1 Begin counting self-isolation days
Day 2  Isolate
Day 3 Isolate
Day 4 Isolate
Day 5 Isolate
Day 6 Begin home testing – Continue to Isolate
Day 7 Self-isolation can end with two negative testes taken at least a day apart
Day 8 Self-isolation can end with two negative testes taken at least a day apart
Day 9 Self-isolation can end with two negative testes taken at least a day apart
Day 10 Isolation ends – no test required

The caveat on returning to work on day 7 is if you still have a temperature you should remain in isolation for 10 days regardless of the lateral flow test results.  In Wales and Northern Ireland the release at 7 days is dependent on your vaccination status.

The other big change in guidance relates to Face Coverings.  The CLC guidance on The Use of Face Coverings in Construction has been updated to reflect changes in the guidance. Where workers on site are not required to wear RPE, face coverings should be worn if their workplace is crowded and enclosed (which may include welfare and changing facilities, site offices, site meeting rooms or site transport) and if they come into contact with others they do not normally meet (Mask fo Task – Cover for Covid signposting available here).

The Government has confirmed that the data will be kept under ‘constant review’ and following the regulations being implemented on 15 December, they are set to be reviewed after three weeks on Wednesday 5 January and expire after six weeks on Wednesday 26 January.

In Scotland

In Scotland individuals are again recommended to work from home where possible and guidance on use of face covering has been updated to enforce use on public transport and in most indoor places, including hospitality and whilst working in other people’s homes.   On 17 December 2021, regulations were introduced to help combat transmission of the Omicron variant.

state that a person who is responsible for a place of worship, carrying on a business or providing a service must:

  • have regard to this guidance about measures to minimise risk of exposure  to coronavirus; and
  • take such of these measures as are reasonably practicable to minimise the incidence and spread of coronavirus on the premises, for example measures which limit close face-to-face interaction, such as supporting working from home, making adjustments to the premises and putting in place protective measures such as signage, screens and other mitigations

New guidance also places clear emphasis on the need for vaccination/boosters and testing – see for example the section on working in other people’s homes, where the advice is for both the workers and householders to undertake an LFT.

People are being encouraged to take a lateral flow test before mixing with people from other households.  The Scottish Government have recommended people think carefully about unnecessary contact with other people, especially in crowded places – suggesting it would be sensible to postpone work Christmas parties.

A reminder that the CICV Forum videos on wearing masks and working safely are available to use on your own social media channels and website. Click on the link to download them and help spread the health and safety message across the industry:

CICV in Scotland has produced excellent guidance to cover site operating procedures in Scotland, this was updated on 24th November and whilst is under review, no immediate reaction has been recommended to deal with latest advice.

Isolation rules state that anyone contracting COVID is required to isolate for 10 days.  If you are a close contact who lives with someone who has tested positive you should isolate for 10 days even if:

  • you have had a negative PCR result
  • you’re fully vaccinated – this means you’ve received 2 doses of an approved vaccine and have had your second dose more than 14 days ago
  • you have tested positive for coronavirus in the last 90 days
  • Household contacts you must always complete the 10-day self-isolation. This includes those under 18 years old. Some health and social care workers may be exempt.

Business and organisations providing vital public services can apply for an exemption to allow essential workers to volunteer to leave self-isolation and return to work, in certain limited circumstance, to allow vital services to continue.  You must be able to demonstrate that staff shortages are in danger of putting essential functions and services at risk. You can end self-isolation if all of the following apply:

  • you’re fully vaccinated – this means you’ve received 2 doses of an approved vaccine and have had your second dose more than 14 days ago
  • you receive a negative PCR test result
  • you do not have, or develop, symptoms
  • If you’re a close contact (non-household) and you’ve tested positive for coronavirus in the last 90 days, you do not have to self-isolate or book a test if you’re fully vaccinated unless you develop new symptoms.

More on how to apply for an exemption here.

In Wales

Advice is consistent with England and the advice is that individuals should work from home wherever it is possible; and people must wear a face covering on public transport and in most indoor places, except hospitality.

The CLC guidance on The Use of Face Coverings in Construction and Site Operating Procedures stand.

In terms of self isolation in Wales, this is dependent on vaccination status.  Anyone who is a close contact of a suspected Omicron case will be asked to isolate for ten days and take a PCR test on day two and day eight, regardless of their vaccination status or age.

In other cases, if in close contact and you are aged 18 and over, and not fully vaccinated, you must self-isolate from the day you were last in contact with the person who tested positive for COVID-19 and for the next 10 days.  You should also take a PCR test on day 2 and day 8. It is important that you take the tests even if you feel well as you may have COVID-19 even if you do not have symptoms.

If you are a fully vaccinated adult, or a young person aged between 5 and 17, and you have not been identified as a close contact of a suspected or confirmed Omicron case, self-isolation and testing requirements will depend on whether someone in your household has symptoms or has tested positive.  If you live or spend a significant amount of time in the same household as someone who has symptoms you should self-isolate and take a test as quickly as possible.   If your test is negative you can stop isolating but you should remain vigilant for new symptoms. You should try to avoid contact with vulnerable family and friends in the short-term (for example elderly relatives or those who are higher risk of severe COVID-19 infection).

If the Omicron variant is suspected, you must isolate until it has been confirmed that the person who has tested positive does not have an Omicron variant. Once that happens Test, Trace, Protect service will contact you and advise on what to do next. This may mean you can leave self-isolation but it will depend on your age, vaccination status and nature of the contact.

In Northern Ireland

Individuals should work from home where possible and employers that require staff to come into the workplace must complete a mandatory risk assessment; and people must wear a face covering on public transport and in most indoor places, including hospitality.

The CLC guidance on The Use of Face Coverings in Construction and Site Operating Procedures (as guidance) remain relevant.

Anyone who is a close contact of a suspected Omicron case will be asked to isolate for ten days and take a PCR test on day two and day eight, regardless of their vaccination status or age.

If you have symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), however mild, you should begin self-isolating and book a PCR test. These are widely available and are free.

You should continue to isolate until the result of the test is available. If the PCR result is positive you should continue to self-isolate for 10 full days after the symptoms started.

Unvaccinated adults are required to isolate for 10 days, regardless of variant.  If you are fully vaccinated  (more than 14 days since you received the second dose of an approved COVID-19 vaccine) or you have taken part in an approved COVID-19 vaccine trial and the contact does not relate to the Omnicron variant, you do not need to self-isolate for 10 days if someone you have been in close contact with tests positive for COVID-19.  You should book a PCR test on day two and day eight of the 10-day period following last contact with the positive person.  You should also take a daily lateral flow test (LFT), starting as soon as possible after being identified as a close contact for the 10-day period.

More detail on Self-Isolation Rules in Northern Ireland here.

Summary of useful information

Government Guidance

Stark Warning in Government Response to FIS on Building Safety Blame

Stark Warning in Government Response to FIS on Building Safety Blame

Government has made it clear that it is lining up changes to the Defective Premises Act and Section 38 of the Building Act 1984 to ensure the construction sector is “held to account for building safety issues”.  In a letter to FIS, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities have spelled out that Legislative changes are being designed to “extend legal rights to redress for shoddy workmanship” and facilitate “civil action to be brought regarding breaches of building regulations which have resulted in injury or damage to property”, holding “those responsible for defective construction work can be held to account for their failures.”

This clear warning was issued in a response to an FIS letter sent in early November to Secretary of State, Michael Gove suggesting a new approach to the Building Safety Fund is required.  FIS has isolated issues with the Building Safety Fund since its inception and repeatedly spoken out on concerns related to the retrospective elements of changes to the Defective Premises Act.  The Act is being extended to cover refurbishment works and to alter the limitation period under section 1 of the Defective Premises Act 1972 from six to fifteen years regardless of contracts and warranties – this change will be imposed retrospectively from the moment the Act is passed (expected to be in the Spring or Summer 2022).

In the letter to Mr Gove, FIS recommended drawing parallels with the Pension Protection Fund, an intervention designed to protect individuals in defined pension schemes from company insolvencies.  FIS suggests that this approach could be replicated by raising a levy on costs like Insurance Premium Tax. and would help to prioritise building work over litigation.  It could also facilitate a mechanism to extend the focus of the Fund beyond cladding, supporting a holistic acceleration in improvement in much needed building safety work.  As with the Pension Protection Fund, a centrally co-ordinated approach could also provide an efficient mechanism to deal with isolating culpability retrospectively and in a more consistent and measured way.  FIS expresses concern that the current policy direction is likely to see litigation put in front of action, companies wound up in administration and life critical interventions delayed and the question of who pays unresolved.

Reflecting on the Government response to the FIS letter CEO, Iain McIlwee stated:  “I believe the direction of travel set down in this letter is a real concern to the construction sector and remain convinced that the answer to safer buildings is not the punitive, backward looking approach described.

The Defective Premises Act applied retrospectively in this way is more about winning the blame game than solving problems.  To be clear no-one is advocating that leaseholders should be footing the bill or that, in clear cases of negligence or deliberate attempts to disguise information, companies and individuals should not be held to account.

But we can’t allow history to be re-written and a better Building Safety Fund would give the opportunity to draw a line under the past, whilst at the same time recognising that, from regulation, through guidance, enforcement, design, construction and the asset management and maintenance of buildings there has been a systemic failing in the process required to build and maintain safe buildings.

My concern is that, beyond the gaps and opaque advice around regulatory compliance, unhealthy procurement practices, value engineering and accelerated programmes, failings have been underpinned by inappropriate risk exchange in heavily amended standard and ultimately unfair contracts.  Contracts have been written to drop a disproportionate amount of financial, time and quality risk into the smallest parts of the supply chain, those least able to resist and manage it.  In the interventions described in this letter I don’t see a rapid and effective solution or those morally who should shouldering the blame being held to account.  All I can see is a process that squeezes far more blame than is fair or proportionate onto small and medium sized contractors, manipulated by a failed process, never set up to succeed and now to take the fall.”

A fully copy of the letter follows:

Dear Mr McIlwee,

Thank you for your email dated 9 November to the Rt Hon Michael Gove MP regarding cladding remediation and leaseholder liability. I am responding as an official in the team responsible for building safety.

Thank you for your suggestions. The Government has been clear that building owners and industry should make buildings safe without passing on costs to leaseholders. Where they have not stepped up, the Government has intervened by providing grant funding for the removal of unsafe cladding on all buildings of 18 metres and above in height. The total amount of this grant funding scheme represents a globally unprecedented investment of over £5 billion in building safety which will protect hundreds of thousands of leaseholders from the cost of replacing unsafe cladding on their homes.

However, Government funding does not absolve building owners of their responsibility to ensure their buildings are safe, and they should consider all routes to meet costs, protecting leaseholders where they can – for example, through warranties and recovering costs from contractors for incorrect or poor work.

It is also fundamental that the industry that caused this legacy of unsafe buildings contributes to setting things right. At Autumn Budget 2021 the Government released details of the Residential Property Developer Tax, which will apply a new 4% tax to the largest residential property developers on the profits they make on UK residential property developments. Details of this can be found here

The Government is also introducing a levy on major developers which we expect to be introduced at the Gateway 2 stage of the new Building Safety Regime. On 21 July the Government launched a consultation seeking views on the design of the developer levy, including how it will be calculated. The decision on the levy calculation and rate will be informed by the evidence received from this consultation, and balancing revenue raised with potential impacts on housing supply. The consultation has now closed, and the Government is considering responses. The consultation can be accessed on here.

The Government’s approach prioritises action on buildings 18 metres and above because the risk to multiple households is greater when fire spreads in buildings of this height. For buildings lower than 18 metres, advice from independent experts, published on 21 July on, is clear that there is no evidence of systemic risk of fire in blocks of flats.

The principle that those responsible for creating building safety defects should pay to put them right has always been the Government’s position. That is why we are taking action through the Building Safety Bill to extend legal rights to redress for shoddy workmanship by retrospectively extending the limitation period under section 1 of the Defective Premises Act 1972 from six to fifteen years.

These changes will enhance the ability of building owners, homeowners and leaseholders to seek compensation from those responsible for defective work. Going forward, we are also expanding the Defective Premises Act to include refurbishment works, and we will be commencing section 38 of the Building Act 1984, allowing civil action to be brought regarding breaches of building regulations which have resulted in injury or damage to property. These measures will ensure that those responsible for defective construction work can be held to account for their failures.

We are also introducing the Residential Property Developers Tax and the Building Safety Levy to make sure that the industry which created these problems pays its share towards resolving them. In addition, we are actively encouraging developers to step up and make direct contributions towards historic defects in buildings for which they are responsible.

Thank you again for your correspondence and I hope that you find this response helpful.

Yours sincerely,
Building Safety Programme
Correspondence Team
Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities

A recent SpecFinish Article highlights how the Defective Premises Act may impact the sector

You can find out more about FIS Campaigns and Lobbying work here