FIS is closely monitoring the development of the Coronavirus situation and is receiving regular briefings from the Civil Service and will continue to follow official advice from Government and the Health Authorities.  Mindful of the additional pressure this is putting on our membership and the amount of misinformation that is out there, we are working to keep this area of our website live, uncluttered and targeted on how things will impact our community.  More on how to join the conversation below.




Latest COVID-19 updates
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22.5.20 Barbour ABI Weekly Covid BriefingThis week has seen a relatively small increase in open projects and a fall in delayed projects. Total open projects have increased in number by 120 and in value by £1.9bn. We now have identified 2,150 open projects with a value of £77bn (£54bn excluding Hinkley Point). Almost all the increase has been in the residential sector.

21.5.20 Phased return welcomed in Scotland – but safety and collaboration is key  – The CICV Forum, supported by FIS, has welcomed the first tentative steps announced to get the sector in Scotland back to work – but insists health and safety and collaboration must be at the heart of the phased return.  A clear six phase plan for contruction has been set down.

21.5.20 Coronavirus and the law: what has been done differently in Wales? The main differences between the legislation applicable in Wales and the legislation applicable in England.

20.5.20 FIS launches new Return to Work Risk Management Checklist – In uncertain times, identifying risk is critical to effective planning. This tool is being developed real-time by the FIS team ensuring that risks are identified and every effort has been made to find the very best sources to help you to manage these risks. The key areas covered are: Leadership | Safety | People | Commercial and Legal | Supply Chain | Cash Flow

20.50.20 Employers able to make claims to the Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme through a new online service – From Tuesday 26 May 2020, small and medium-sized employers, with fewer than 250 employees, will be able to apply to recover the costs of paying coronavirus-related Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) payments they have made to their employees.  Employers will receive repayments at the relevant rate of SSP that they have paid to current or former employees for eligible periods of sickness starting on or after 13 March 2020.

19.5.20 New Guidance on Safely Returning to work after Lockdown, from FIS and Cobra Insurance The content of this document has been designed as a resource to assist in the return to work and to support you in planning and the protocols to prepare and safeguard your employees and business. It should be read in conjunction with the Government’s latest advice as well as any sector specific advice for your industry.

19.5.20 New CLC Site Operating Procedures released – As anticipated following new Government Guidance published last week, the CLC Site Operating Procedures have been updated to incorporate a number of technical changes as a result of the new Government guidance published last week.

19.5.20 Official Symptoms list for Employers updated to cover loss of taste and smell A loss or changed sense of taste or smell have been added to the NHS coronavirus symptoms list, alongside a cough and fever to ensure cases are not missed.

19.5.20 Everyone in Wales with symptoms can book a coronavirus test. Wales is joining a new UK-wide system for ordering home testing kits, in line with the Welsh Government’s Test Trace Protect strategy.

19.5.20 Government to accelerate Public Sector Works Build UK advised today that during latest industry conference call with Minister for Business and Industry Nadhim Zahawi last week, where he confirmed that the Government would be identifying public sector construction projects that could be brought forward or accelerated.

19.5.20 Isolation starts to ease in Northern Ireland new advice states Stay at home – only go outside for food, health reasons or work (but only if you cannot work from home)

18.5.20 Official Symptoms list for Employers updated to cover loss of taste and smell A loss or changed sense of taste or smell have been added to the NHS coronavirus symptoms list, alongside a cough and fever to ensure cases are not missed.

18.5.20 Government to accelerate Public Sector Works Build UK advised today that during latest industry conference call with Minister for Business and Industry Nadhim Zahawi last week, where he confirmed that the Government would be identifying public sector construction projects that could be brought forward or accelerated.

18.5.20 Build UK is helping TfL to manage capacity and map future requirements on public transport as more people return to work. Working with our members, we have provided detailed information on over 120 large projects in London, the majority of which are operating staggered start and finish times and do not expect to reach full capacity until July at the earliest.

15.5.20 How do I go about unfurloughing and returning staff to the workplace – Excellent guidance from the CIPD help you plan your organisation’s next steps following a period of furlough or once lockdown measures start easing is available here.

15.5.20 CITB is re-establishing Health, Safety and Environment Test operations in England.  All Pearson Professional Centres in England will be operational from Monday 18 May.  For those outside of England, there are a number of free products to help employers run their own in-house interim testing to give a level of local assurance that an employee is safe to work on their site.

15.5.20 Rapid scaling up of construction evident according to latest figures from Barbour ABIThis week has seen a further significant increase in open projects and a comparable decrease in delayed projects. Total open projects number 2,037 with a value of £75bn (£52bn excluding Hinkley Point). This is an increase of 493 projects and an increase value of £13.4bn.

Most of the increase has been in the residential sector.   Out of the open projects, restarted projects number 961 and have a value of 30.5bn. This is a weekly increase of 285 projects and £10.3bn.   The value of delayed projects has again reduced significantly over the week. We currently have identified 4,266 projects delayed with a value of with a value of £51.3bn.

15.5.20 The cavalry is coming on PPE with new UK Manufacture expected to start as soon as July – More than 70 million FFP2 and FFP3 face masks will be manufactured in Scotland and delivered to frontline health and care workers following an agreement with a global technology company, this should help to ease severe pressure in the construction sector.

14.5.20 New COVID-19 – Site safety checklists, risk assessment tool and toolbox talk available from the CITB – Information has been produced in collaboration with the Construction Leadership Council and supported by Build UK.  The checklist and forms aim to help ensure site operating procedures during COVID-19 are clear and accessible to employees.

COVID-19 – Site operating procedures compliance checklistCOVID-19 – Health safety and environment risk assessment template COVID-19 – A toolbox talk for construction workers | COVID-19 – Weekly site operating procedures checklist

14.5.20 Regulating occupational health and safety during the coronavirus outbreak – HSE is adjusting the focus of its activities, including visits to business premises and sites which will be conducted in line with social distancing regulations and guidelines. HSE will maintain regulatory oversight of how duty holders are meeting their responsibilities in the context of the current public health risk and regulatory approach will continue to take proportionate account of the risks and challenges arising from the pandemic.

14.5.20 Government gives green light to extend working hours for construction sites The Secretary of State for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (Robert Jenrick) issued a written statement yesterday around the need for the construction industry to adapt its normal practices. As part of this, temporary extensions to working hours may be required on some sites to facilitate safe working and allow tasks to be completed where social distancing can be challenging. Longer working hours may also be needed to facilitate social distancing in the wider community, for instance by reducing pressure on public transport. It might be necessary to start work earlier in the day or work until later in the evenings.  To enable this he has requested that, with immediate effect, local planning authorities should take a swift and positive approach to requests from developers and site operators for greater flexibility around construction site working hours. This is to ensure that, where appropriate, planning conditions are not a barrier to allowing developers the flexibility necessary to facilitate the safe operation of construction sites during the response to the COVID-19 pandemic and to proceed at pace with work otherwise delayed as a result of COVID-19.  A Q&A to support this approach is available here.

13.5.20 New Charter for Home Builders to support Safe Working – In conjunction with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), HBF has produced the below ‘Charter for Safe Working Practice’ to ensure that home building activity is carried out safely and in accordance with the advice of Government and Public Health England during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

13.5.20 RICS Disputes Resolutions Service Launches Summary Adjudication – As the economic effect of the Covid-19 impacts severely on the construction industry, there are many contractors in the smaller end of the market who are struggling to access dispute resolution even under the reduced cost of Low Value Adjudication (LVD MAP) process.

For a limited period initially until the end of July, as a specific response to the needs of the industry, RICS are now offering Summary Adjudication for claims below £20 000.

13.5.20 New HMG statistics show over £14 billion in loans  have been issued as part of the coronavirus crisis support. This includes 268,000 Bounce Back Loans worth £8.3 billion (approval rate 74%, average loan £31,241), 36,000 loans worth over £6 billion (50% approval, average loan £169,660) through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, and £359 million through the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme.  Experience from FIS is that to date only a third of firms who have applied for the CBILS loans from our sector have been approved to date.  There has been similar more positive (anechdotal) news on the  smaller Bounce Back Loans and there is further good news in that 14 new lenders have been added to the scheme, which will help to widen the reach.

13.5.20 Applications for Self-Employment Income Support Scheme open early – The government’s world-leading scheme to support the self-employed has today opened for claims.

13.5.20 Government to support businesses through Trade Credit Insurance guarantee Businesses with supply chains which rely on Trade Credit Insurance and who are experiencing difficulties maintaining cover due to Coronavirus will get support from the governmentThis should be positive news for cashflow in the construction sector.

13.5.20 Housing Secretary sets out plan to re-start housing market From today anyone in England can move home if they follow new guidance published by Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick.  This should help to unlock the housing market in England.

12.5.20 Chancellor extends furlough scheme until October 2020 – The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will remain open until the end of October, the Chancellor announced today. The scheme will continue to apply across all regions and sectors in the UK economy. Furloughed workers across the UK will continue to receive 80% of their current salary, up to £2,500.

From the start of August, furloughed workers will be able to return to work part-time with employers being asked to pay a percentage towards the salaries of their furloughed staff. The employer payments will substitute the contribution the government is currently making, ensuring that staff continue to receive 80% of their salary, up to £2,500 a month.

The scheme will continue in its current form until the end of July. Changes to allow more flexibility will come in from the start of August. More specific details and information around implementation will be made available by the end of this month.

12.5.20 Construction Industry Coronavirus (CICV) Forum issues five-point plan to help contractors – The CICV Forum has written to Holyrood urging the Government to adopt a five-point plan to assist contractors through the worst of the COVID-19 crisis.

12.5.20 Contractual and Commercial Considerations for the Return to Site. New Guidance to support Scottish Contractors from the CICV Forum.

11.5.20 New guidance on safer working has been published by HMG covering eight key working environments.  The Construction Leadership Council will be reviewing Site Operating Procedures in conjunction with this, but in the meantime it is worth referring to new Guidance on PPE and Face Masks to support existing risk management strategies.

11.5.20 The Government is considering how to phase out the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, recognising the impact of a ‘cliff edge’ if it ends abruptly at the end of June 2020. A CLC working group has made a number of recommendations to the Treasury on how it could be extended as a ‘work support’ scheme.

11.5.20 In his address on Sunday, the PM said people who could not work from home – including those in the manufacturing and construction industries – should be “actively encouraged to go back to work” but avoid public transport. Mr Raab confirmed that this will apply from Wednesday.  New guidance is anticipated in the next 48 hours from Government to assist the H&S aspects here.  

7.5.20 Emergency loan fund for SME housebuilders in Scotland Housebuilders in Scotland will be able to apply for short-term loans of up to £1 million from the Scottish Government to support them through the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with liquidity issues due to the temporary closure of the housebuilding sector will be able to apply to a £100 million Scottish Government emergency loan fund which aims to:

  • safeguard jobs and protect suppliers
  • support post-COVID-19 economic recovery and the continued supply of homes
  • retain diversity of the housebuilding sector

7.5.20 Government Backs New Industry Guidance to Avoid Disputes – The Construction Leadership Council COVID-19 Task Force has published practical guidance for all companies involved in the construction supply chain on how to minimise potential disputes.  This is supported by UK Government today outlining its expectations from businesses as they manage and enforce B2B contracts during the COVID-19 emergency.  The recognise a concern that the construction industry will become embroiled in costly and long-running disputes over the effects of the pandemic on projects if it does not look to engage in collaborative discussions to resolve these issues.

7.5.20 FIS Updates our H&S Toolkit with new guidance on PPE/RPE and Methodologies for Working the toolkit includes a range of supporting resources to help members return to work safely

6.5.20 Build UK partner Anderson Strathern has produced an addendum to Build UK’s Guidance on Contractual Issues Caused by Coronavirus, setting out the amendments required for use in Scotland with SBCC contracts.

6.5.20 Build UK Market Update: BuildUK reported today that this week 73% of sites are open in England and Wales, up from 69% last week. Over 80% of infrastructure and construction projects are running, this is lower in housing just over half of housing sites (55%) are now open for business, compared to 46% last week. Interestingly they are reporting productivity on infrastructure and construction sites is averaging 71%, up from 67% last week. Construction sites in London remain a challenge, although output has improved from 56% to 63% in the last week.

6.5.20 Local leaders pledge to continue vital building safety work – leaders from 25 councils have pledged their commitment to ensuring vital building safety work continues during the pandemic.

Read our COVID-19 FIS News Archive here

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FIS COVID-19 Return to Work Risk Management Checklist

In uncertain times, identifying risk is critical to effective planning.  This tool is being developed real-time by the FIS team ensuring that risks are identified and every effort has been made to find the very best sources to help you to manage these risks. The key areas covered are:

Leadership | Safety | People | Commercial and Legal | Supply Chain | Cash Flow

Government Support Packages for Business
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Government Support Packages COVID-19

Cash flow is now critical and the Government has made available an unprecedented level of financial support for businesses and individuals affected by coronavirus (COVID‐19). Below is a reminder of the key measures, including grants, loans and tax relief, and make sure you are taking advantage of the support for your business:

  • Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme ‐ Employers can claim 80% of an employee’s monthly wages, up to a maximum of £2,500, plus any employer National Insurance and pension contributions, by placing them on furlough leave. The online claims service is available now and the Government has published step by step guidance on making a claim. Claims should be paid within six working days.
  • Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme ‐ Employers with fewer than 250 employees, as of 28 February 2020, can recover the costs of paying SSP to employees for sickness absence due to coronavirus or self‐isolation for up to 2 weeks from 13 March 2020. The online system is not yet available so make sure you are keeping records.
  • The Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS) was announced in the second wave of support.
    • Businesses can borrow between £2,000 and £50,000, capped at 25% of turnover, with no fee to access the scheme
    • The Government will guarantee 100% of the loan and there will not be any fees or interest to pay for the first 12 months
    • Loan terms will be up to 6 years and no repayments will be due during the first 12 months
    • Interest rates will be capped at 2.5% per annum
    • Lenders are not permitted to take personal guarantees or recovery action over a borrower’s personal assets (such as their main home or personal vehicle).

    To be eligible for the scheme, a business must be based in the UK, have been negatively affected by coronavirus, have been trading on 1 March 1 2020, and not have been an ‘undertaking in difficultly’ as of 31 December 2019.

  • Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme ‐ Small and medium‐sized businesses, with an annual turnover of up to £45 million, can access loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance of between £50,001 up to £5 million for up to 6 years. The Government will make a Business Interruption Payment to cover the first 12 months of interest payments and any lender‐levied fees, meaning no upfront costs and lower initial repayments. Apply now from an accredited lender by following the steps on the British Business Bank website and there is guidance from ICAEW on preparing a strong application.
  • Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme ‐ Large businesses with an annual turnover of more than £45 million can apply for up to £25 million of finance (or £50 million for those with an annual turnover of more than £250 million). Apply now from an accredited lender by following the steps on the British Business Bank website.
  • COVID‐19 Corporate Financing Facility ‐ Large businesses which make a material contribution to the UK economy can purchase short‐term debt in the form of commercial paper to finance their short‐term liabilities. Apply now through the Bank of England.
  • Deferral of VAT ‐ UK VAT‐registered businesses which have a VAT payment due between 20 March and 30 June 2020 can defer the payment until on or before 31 March 2021. You do not need to tell HMRC that you are deferring payment and you will still need to submit your VAT returns on time. If you normally pay by Direct Debit, you should cancel it by contacting your bank. Further information about how to repay the deferred VAT will be available soon.
  • Small Business Grants Fund (SBGF) ‐ Eligible businesses in England in receipt of either Small Business Rates Relief (SBRR) or Rural Rates Relief (RRR) are eligible for a payment of £10,000. Companies that are eligible will be contacted by their Local Authority to arrange payment.
  • Coronavirus Future Fund ‐ UK‐based companies which rely on equity investment and are unable to access the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme can receive Government loans ranging from £125,000 to £5 million, subject to at least equal match funding from private investors. The fund will be launched in May 2020.
  • Commercial tenants who cannot pay their rent because of COVID-19 will be protected from eviction.
  • It is also worth contacting your local enterprise partnership or equivalent to see what support is available.

 To determine which support your business may be eligible for, visit the Government’s Business Support Finder and provide a few key details about your business, such as size, location and turnover.


Support for the Self-Employed
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The Government have unveiled a package of support for the self-employed.

New self employed income 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.

HMRC will use the average profits from tax returns in 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19 to calculate the size of the grant. The scheme will be open to those where the majority of their income comes from self-employment and who have profits of less than £50,000. The scheme will be open for an initial three months with people able to make their first claim by 13th May.

Key points:

  • HMG will pay the self-employed a taxable grant worth 80% of their average monthly profits over the last three years up to £2500 per month
  • Available for three months. Will be extended if necessary
  • People can claim these grants and continue to do business
  • Open to anyone of trading profits of up to £50k
  • Available to people who i) make the majority of their income being self-employed, ii) Have a self employed tax return for 2019- aimed to stop fraud

For more information on how to make a claim and eligibility (which you can check via the online tool in advance of the 13th May), click here

Additional support that you can access if self-employed

Universal credit –  To support you with the economic impact of the outbreak, and allow you to follow government guidance on self-isolation and social distancing, from 6 April the requirements of the Minimum Income Floor will be temporarily relaxed. This change will apply to all Universal Credit claimants and will last for the duration of the outbreak.  New claimants will not need to attend the jobcentre to demonstrate gainful self-employment.  Normally  this takes 5 weeks to kick in, but there are provisions for emergency payments.  Find out if you’re eligible for Universal Credit.  You can find out more about how to claim here.

Mortgage holidays – Rishi Sunak announced earlier this week that people struggling with their finances would be able to take a break of up to three months from paying their mortgage.  Details do differ between mortage lenders and you are advised to speak to your mortgage lender to understand how this can be implemented and whether it is available to you.

Rental Payments –  The government has announced a package of measures to protect renters affected by coronavirus.  You can find out more here 

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS), specifically for SMEs and provided by the British Business Bank via your usual bank or lender, is now available.  The Chancellor has confimed that this will be available to sole traders. Again speak to your bank about terms.

Deferring VAT and Income Tax payments support for businesses by deferring Valued Added Tax (VAT) payments for 3 months. Self-employed, Income Tax payments due in July 2020 under the Self-Assessment system will be deferred to January 2021.

FIS is continuing to work to understand how we can accelerate and support access to these measures.  We recognise for many that waiting til perhaps June is not viable.    We have been reminded that many sub-contractors paid through the CIS scheme will be due a repayment and the Chancellor has missed an opportunity to accelerate this or to provide a more formal mechanism either to use this as a mechanism to act as security against a Business Loan or indeed better to provide as an advance through the existing system.   We will continue to press this point.

A number of companies are providing additional support to self-employed sub contractors, (e.g. Measoms have pulled this excellent resource together).  

Insurance and COVID-19
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Insurance Matters

In terms of cover for Business Interruption, for cover to exist members would need to have purchased an extension called “Notifiable Diseases Extension” as the government has declared COVID 19 a notifiable disease. This extension is usually only offered/bought in the leisure sector by Hotels, Restaurants, Sporting Venues etc, where profit is driven by foot fall. It is rare for this extension to have been purchased in the construction/manufacturing/wholesale sector.

It is recommended members talk to their insurer about cover for continuing to work during the pandemic.  Is the heightened risk to employees and workers covered within your policy.

Members are reminded to ensure that, if they are leaving their offices of any storage facilities unoccupied then this may have insurance implications and they should consult with their insurers.

Guidance for FIS Members on Insurance and COVID-19 supplied by Cobra Insurance

CLC Advice note on temporary closure of sites

New Guidance on Safely Returning to work after Lockdown, from FIS and Cobra Insurance 

Economic Impact On Construction - Briefings
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Access the latest economic, sector research and intelligence briefings brought to you by FIS Partners, Barbour ABI and the Construction Products Association (CPA)

Barbour ABI:

Covid-19 Construction Update 22 May 2020 – Click here
Covid-19 Construction Update 1 May 2020 – Click here
Covid-19 Construction Update 17 April 2020 – Click here
Covid-19 Construction Update 9 April 2020 – click here
Covid-19 Construction Update 3 April 2020 – click here
Covid-19 Construction Briefing 27 March 2020  – click here


Construction Products Association

Potential COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Economic and Construction Impacts – this is being updated daily – Click here
COVID-19 Skills, Training & Apprenticeships Updates
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12.05.20 FEWeek: Government to take ownership of colleges.  The government is working on a plan to bring colleges in England back into public ownership, FE Week understands. FEWeek Ownership of colleges

11.05.20 CITB National Specialist Accredited Centre (NSAC).  The NSAC team are continuing to operate supporting assessors & learners sampling portfolios and providing information advice and guidance to the specialist sectors.  CITB ask all new enquiries to email them at

11.05.20 FEWeek: Outstanding! Chichester College Group has become the second general further education college to be rated ‘outstanding’ under Ofsted’s new inspection framework. FEWeek Outstanding

07.05.20 CSCS no long accepting new alternatives to the Regulated Qualification Framework Level 1 Award Health and Safety in a Construction Environment knowledge qualification.  Most people who work in construction will be familiar with the CSCS green Labourer card, it is the card required for those working in Labouring occupations. CSCS News

07.05.20 London School of Economics and Political Science The future of apprenticeships is in the balance.  Once the crisis ends and the programme can resume, firms and training providers may not be there.  For the full article: The future of apprenticeships is in the balance

07.05.20 CITB CEO’s twice weekly update includes a survey on information provided by CITB plus information on Grants, Skills and Training Fund, Site Safety Plus Courses, Health and Safety Environmental Test App and Buildathon.  See CITB CEO’s Twice Weekly Update

06.05.20 FEWEEK Adult Education Budget funding rules published in draft – but without threatened subcontracting limits. Draft rules for funding the adult education budget in 2020/21 have not included any changes to subcontracting despite the government’s warning of an overhaul.  For full details see: FEWEEK AEB funding

06.05.20 CITB The Apprentices: Assuring the future of the industry:  Jonathan Woods has worked for Essex based business, Contour Roofing Limited, since he left school.  With ambitions to develop the company, while bridging the skills gap and labour shortage in roofing, he became the owner and Managing Director in 2014. Alongside CITB Apprenticeship Officer, Nikki Parsons, The Contour Roofing Apprentice Programme quickly came to fruition, marking one of Jonathan’s first milestones as the new owner.  Please see: CITB News blogs apprentices

06.05.20 Times Education Supplement 13% of colleges fear their solvency is at risk EXCLUSIVE: Colleges report a significant drop in income as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.  Four in 10 college leaders predict a deterioration in their college’s financial health as a result of coronavirus while a third predict cashflow issues and 13 per cent believe there could be “a significant threat to solvency”, according to a new survey.  For the full article see TES Exclusive

06.05.20 PBC Today New skills crisis package to support construction through Covid-19 A raft of new measures to help employers retain skilled young workers and allow training to take place through the COVID-19 crisis has been given the green light by the ECITB’s board.  The article covers key developments and the latest news on how Coronavirus (COVID-19) is affecting those working in the UK construction sector.

The ECITB has announced up to £6m in funding to help employers, training providers and learners through the Covid-19 crisis.

06.05.20 National Apprenticeship Service Apprenticeship Support and Knowledge for Schools and Colleges  Programme.  The ASK offer has been transformed into a remote service so that we can continue to offer apprenticeship support and information to students, teachers and parents.  Amazing Apprenticeships Brochure

05.05.20 CITB Site safety plus distant learning, imminent launch of a site safety toolbox talk in collaboration with the Construction Leadership Council.  CITB CEO update 05 may 2020

05.05.20 Apprenticeship and youth unemployment It is widely believed that apprenticeships lead to better employment outcomes.  This article presents the results of a field experiment conducted in France to show that apprentices do not perform significantly better than vocational students when they look for jobs outside the firm in which they trained.  For the full article go to

05.05.20 Department for Education The Department for Education has launched The Skills Toolkit, which allows adults to access free, high quality online courses whilst at home. This will enable them to build new skills and help boost growth and productivity.  The Skills Toolkit is available to everyone and consists of digital and numeracy courses, ranging from basic to more advanced levels. These are skills that are sought after for many types of jobs, with 82% of job vacancies requiring

21.04.20 Health and Safety Executive: Carrying out thorough examination and testing of lifting and pressure equipment during the coronavirus outbreak.  For full details see:

21.04.20 CITB: NVQ and SVQ standards and frameworks.  The Coronavirus crisis has required CITB to review the approach for the delivery of vocational qualifications and a temporary revision of the Consolidated Assessment Strategy.  Please see COVID-19 Addendum to Consolidated Assessment Strategy

21.04.20 CITB: Covid-19: CITB chief exec update the first of a twice-weekly e-mails to industry, details CITB’s increase of training standards suitable for remote learning for industry, from 22 to 180.  For full details go to:

21.04.20 Welsh Government: Five ways Wales is leading the way in delivering digital education services.  The Welsh Government is regarded as a world-leader in digital service delivery for education. Here are just some of the reasons why;

14.04.20 TES ‘End speculation over schools reopening’.  Teachers’ leaders have demanded an end to “disturbing” speculation over schools reopening in a letter to the prime minister today, calling for the government to share its modelling of how many pupils, staff parents and carers are expected to contract or die from coronavirus.

14.04.20 CITB 50% of staff furloughed starting 15 April 2020.

14.04.20 FEWEEK T-level content finally published as minister says most colleges ‘wanted to continue’.  The long-awaited content for the first three T-levels is set to be published as the skills minister pleads with providers to not pull out of delivery in light of the coronavirus crisis. Full information at:

14.04.20FEWEEK DfE cancels achievement rates publication in 2021 for all providers.  The government will not publish provider-level achievement rates for the current academic year due to the coronavirus crisis.  However, the Department for Education will “still consider” publishing the national data.  For full details please see:

14.04.20 World Health Organisation How to put on and how to remove personal protective equipment – posters available:

14.04.20 Times Education Supplement (TES) Coronavirus: Employers urge DfE to protect FE sector.  A group of employers has written to Gavin Williamson the education secretary and Gillian Keegan the apprenticeships and skills minister, urging them to support the FE sector during the coronavirus outbreak.  The members of the City & Guilds Industry Board stressed the business sector had worked hard, with FE partners and the government, to establish a thriving, high-quality apprenticeship system that helped plug vital skills gaps – but this was now at risk.  For the full letter please see

14.04.20 What the rest of the world is doing a USA article. Three Ways Policymakers Can Support Apprenticeships during the Pandemic.  Governments around the world are developing a range of policy interventions to support workers affected by the pandemic. US policymakers should take note of what is working abroad to provide workers—especially apprentices—with a comprehensive safety net during this economic crisis and public health emergency.  For the full article please go to:

09.04.20 English Skills Funding Agency, Cross Government Effort Version 2 of guidance issued focuses on furloughed workers, but also contains information on pausing new funding audits, and a selection of updated FAQs.  Please see:

09.04.20 Qualification in Wales The latest information on skills, training and apprenticeships, including a series of frequently asked questions and blogs by the Chief Executive and senior staff.  Relevant statements by Welsh Government, WJEC and other partners in the Welsh education sector can be found:—covid-19/

09.04.20 Ofqual Awarding vocational and technical qualifications this summer. The complexity of the landscape for vocational and technical qualifications means a single approach is not appropriate.  In some cases, where qualifications directly signal occupational competence or function as a licence to practise, it may not be safe or meet employers’ requirements to do either of these, and there may be no option but to wait until normal assessments can take place again.  For more details see:

09.04.20Express and Star (West Midlands) Training leaders warn thousands of apprenticeships have been put at risk.  While the DfE and its Education Funding Skills Agency have said they will continue to fund apprenticeships, youth training and adult education through the FE college sector, hundreds of independent providers have been told there will be no similar support for them.  Article from Chris Luty Executive Director of BCTG.  For more information please see:

08.04.20 Department for Work and Pensions Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Businesses and Employers Bulletin issued and provides information for employers and businesses on Coronavirus (COVID-19).  Organisations should pay particular attention to the business support:

06.02.20 FE WEEK The government has finally confirmed that apprentices can continue with funded training when employers use the job retention scheme, subject to being paid the apprenticeship minimum wage “for all the time they spend training”.  For more details please see:

06.02.20 CITB The first ever Site Safety Plus remote learning took place this week with at least one provider conducting a sold-out Health and Safety Awareness course delivered via video call.  Today we’ve approved delivery of SMSTS and SSSTS refresher courses through remote learning for Site Safety Plus training centres. You can find more out about this from your local centre through the SSP course locator.  For further details see:

06.02.20 CSCS As part of CSCS’s drive to place qualifications at the heart of every application, it is reminding the industry of its plans to withdraw cards under ‘industry accreditation’.  CSCS closed industry accreditation to new applicants in 2010, but those already holding a card are currently able to renew on the same basis.  From 1 January 2020, all cards renewed under the system will expire on 31 December 2024 and CSCS will stop issuing the card from 30 June 2024.  For more information please see:

06.02.20 Government Extended Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS).  The UK Government has extended the CBILS so that all viable small businesses affected by COVID-19, and not just those unable to secure regular commercial financing, will now be eligible should they need finance to keep operating during this difficult time.  UK Government has also stopped lenders from requesting personal guarantees for loans under £250,000 and has made operational changes to speed up lending approvals.  The government will continue to cover the first twelve months of interest and fees. Please find further details here:

03.02.20 FE WEEK Treasury confirms colleges CAN furlough staff.  Treasury officials have given colleges the green light to tap into their coronavirus job retention scheme.

03.02.20 FE WEEK Remote assessment guidance too vague and open to malpractice, say awarding bodies.  Online assessment will only work for around 40 per cent of apprenticeships and the government’s “vague” guidance in the area opens the market up to “widespread malpractice”, awarding organisations have warned.  For the full article please see:

03.04.20 Parliamentary Question on Further Education Rosie Duffield MP asked the Department for Education what assessment they made of the potential merits of creating an independent regulator of further education providers. Gillian Keegan MP, Apprenticeships and Skills Minister responded to the parliamentary question by highlighting that the quality of further education is independently regulated by Ofsted and by the Education and Skills Funding Agency, which ensures direct accountability to ministers. Keegan also added that the Department for Education are considering the recommendations of the Independent Review of College Financial Oversight and will publish the report and the government response in due course.  For more details please see:

03.04.20 CITB Yesterday, Andy Mitchell, Co-Chair of the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) followed this communication with a letter to the Prime Minister outlining what industry is doing to respond to the Coronavirus crisis and the support it now needs from Government. The CLC has asked for a suspension to PAYE and CIS tax, deferring or cancelling Apprenticeship Levy contributions and extending the £25K SME business continuity scheme to support industry among a range of measures.  Please see:

03.04.20 Construction News Local advice and support for business

Growth hubs are local public/private sector partnerships backed by the government, led and governed by Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs). The network of 38 growth hubs across England provide a free to use, impartial and local single point of contact to all businesses, so that they can access the right advice and support when they need it. The hubs can advise businesses on local and national business support – including schemes put in place to help businesses through the current COVID-19 situation – and help businesses build their resilience.  To find your local LEP look at:

03.04.20 Personnel Today Private apprenticeship training providers are “on the brink of collapse” after failing to secure financial support from the Department for Education during the coronavirus crisis.  According to a report in the Financial Times, apprenticeships and skills minister Gillian Keegan has sent the AELP a letter to reassure the organisation she is aware of the issues providers are facing.  For more details see:

02.03.20 FE WEEK Supplier relief: Liverpool reveals Covid-19 provider support.  Training providers in Liverpool will continue to receive adult education payments to “provide stability and help to protect the sector during Coronavirus crisis”.  For more information go to:

02.03.20 FE WEEK Funding agency ‘pause’ planned audits during Covid-19 lockdown.  All planned routine funding audits of FE providers have been put on hold, the government confirmed today.  For more details please see

02.04.20 CITB Call for support to the NHS replicating the request issued by the Construction Leadership Council for PPE such as masks, gowns, and sanitiser, Accommodation, transport and logistics for moving goods or people, manufacturing equipment, warehouse or office space for medical use or storage, expert advice or consultancy in IT, manufacturing, construction, project management, procurement, or engineering.  All National Construction College PPE supplies and accommodation at Bircham Newton has been offered.  For more information please see:

02.04.20 DWP Help and support if your business is affected by COVID-19, email alerts about live and recorded webinars, YouTube videos and online guidance.  For more information please see:

01.04.20 CITB Skills and Training Fund now open:

Micro and small sized organisations can apply for funds up to £10,000 depending on the number of directly employed staff if:

You are a CITB-registered employer

You have less than 100 directly employed staff on the payroll

Any previous project paid for by the Skills and Training fund has been signed off as complete.

Medium sized organisations can apply for funds up to £25,000 depending on the number of directly employed staff if:

You are a CITB-registered employer

You have between 100 and 249 directly employed staff on the payroll

Any previous project paid for by the Skills and Training fund has been signed off as complete.

You can apply for funding once every 12 months.

You can apply for funding once every 12 months.

For more details please see:

01.04.20 FE WEEK Training providers in the West Midlands will continue to be funded for the next three months irrespective of their recruitment levels, FE Week can reveal.  The announcement appears to be the first of its kind based on Cabinet Office supplier relief support due to COVID-19:  and comes ahead of any news of support from the Education and Skills Funding Agency.  For full details see:

01.04.20 Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education An Covid-19 FAQ is available designed to provide information on the impact of the virus on the apprenticeship sector.  There are currently two sets of comprehensive guidance available. One from the Institute, focusing on end point assessments, and one from the government which looks at the wider picture.  For more information please see:

31.03.20 FE WEEK The Department for Education suspends £9m College Collaboration Fund:

31.03.20 FE WEEK The government “cannot require” college to remain open over the Easter holidays amid the Covid-19 outbreak, the Association of Colleges has been told:

31.03.20 CITB A three area support package focusing on cash flow explained in a video, levy collection delayed until August, 20 week claiming rule suspended giving longer time for employers to grant and early payment of apprenticeship grants:

30.03.20 CITB Limited service in place to keep operatives up to date with Site Safety Plus.  Coronavirus toolbox talk available:

30.03.20 CITB A comprehensive list of CITB contacts and associated service is available at;  The list includes contact details for all local CITB advisors.

30.03.20 CITB Thanks go to all people who agreed to speak at, exhibit and attend our Employer Roadshows.  CITB wanted to put on webinars as alternatives.  CITB feel there are better ways we can immediately support you and help relieve some of the stress you’re currently facing.  For more details on CITB’s response plan please go to:

27.03.20 – CSCS Due to the growing concerns surrounding the Coronavirus CSCS are experiencing reduced staffing levels at the contact centre, the telephone service is therefore suspended until further notice.  Until the service re-opens CSCS are only able to accept applications via the online service.  CSCS are asking the industry to support the following temporary measures:

  1. Requesting employers and those responsible for site access and card checking procedures to use their discretion towards workers whose cards have expired since mid-March onward and who can provide evidence that they have been unable to sit their test or undertake the required training as a result of the closure of Test and

This is at the employer’s discretion until the situation has stabilised.

  1. CSCS has extended the grace period for card renewals from 6 months after the card expires to 12 months. This means that the card can be renewed, once the CITB HS&E test has been passed, up to one year from the card’s expiry date.

This will assist those applicants struggling to find availability to sit the test and renew their card.

  1. In response to Covid-19 CITB have developed some free of charge products to help employers determine if an employee is safe to work on their site.

For details of the CITB Health and Safety and Environment Tests please see:

27.03.20 – FE WEEK English Skills Funding Agency’s supposed solution to NHS business admin conundrum, A successful alternative to the business admin level 2 apprenticeship, for NHS Trusts at least, has been found, according to the government.  A blog post published by the Education & Skills Funding Agency last week lauded the level 2 customer service programme as a viable replacement.  For the full story please see:

26.03.20 – CITB suspends Levy for 3 months, the bills will subsequently be issued for the full year. The delay will provide immediate financial relief to construction employers during the coronavirus crisis.  All levy bills, raised before 2020, should have been paid by this point. Employers in arears should contact CITB to discuss payment options.  Message from CITB’s CEO Sarah Beale

More information at:

25.03.20 – The FIS are contacting the FIS Approved Training Provider network to discuss current activities, concerns regarding the current situation and attempt to identify how FIS may be able to assist.  FIS continue to investigate methods of electronic training provision.  Our existing E Learning facilities are always available to members pages.

25.03.20 – FEWEEK: Coronavirus, ‘Furious’ Association of Education and Learning Providers boss says government wants skills sector to collapse, Mark Dawe has told FE WEEK the government’s goal seems to be for the collapse of the skills sector, many independent training providers may go out of business:

25.03.20 – CITB as announced, CITB is making available advanced payment of apprenticeship attendance grants for apprentices in their second and third year of apprenticeship programmes.  To request the advance grant payment please register your details on the form

25.03.20 – CITB Grants: CITB are unable to support Levy and Grant telephone lines, urgent enquiries should be sent by email  They are processing grant claims as quickly as possible and urge employers to check their Grant Online accounts for claims which need authorising.  Advanced payment of apprenticeship attendance grants for 2nd and 3rd year apprentices to help ensure future skills are retained in the construction industry.  To claim see the link above. For the press release go to:

25.03.20 CITB Health and Safety Testing: Health and Safety test centres are temporarily closed.  New products have developed some free of charge.  CITB hope is these will help employers run their own in-house interim testing to give a level of local assurance to help the employer to determine if an employee is safe to work on their site.  For operatives and specialist go to:

For Managers and Professionals go to

For test guidelines please see:

25.03.20 – The National Construction College: CITB would like to re-assure our learners working towards their S/NVQ that we are here to support you with your qualification through these challenging times.  Please continue to complete and send in your work-based evidence in the normal way (recorded delivery, if by post) as instructed by your training college instructor or on-site assessor.

24.03.20 – Government Guidance: Coronavirus (COVID-19): apprenticeship programme response.  This document sets out guidance for apprentices, employers, training providers and assessment organisations in response to the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19).  It includes applying the policy on breaks in learning:

24.3. 20 Support for Apprentices – CITB is paying, in advance, apprenticeship attendance grants for second and third year apprentices to help keep skills in the construction industry amid the Coronavirus outbreak.

The payments will be made from 6 April for apprentices already subject to CITB grant support and who are currently in the second or third year of their apprenticeship for the remainder of the year. The payments are expected to be able to support 7,500 apprentices, and will advance up to £2,500 in attendance grant at a time when retaining apprentices is critical. To read the press release on this please click here.

CITB has worked with the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) to discuss funding rules on breaks in learning for apprentices. ESFA have issued guidance for apprentices, employers and training providers, you can read the guidance here.

CITB has helped apprentices return home from National Construction Colleges in Bircham Newton, Erith, Kings Norton and Inchinnan; every CITB apprentice is being contacted by their Apprenticeships Officer this week.

Online learning tools (functional skills videos) have also been made available to help apprentices continue their studies from home. These videos are available to all apprentices, not just CITB’s. Information on how to register and access the videos can be found here.

A dedicated email helpline for all apprentices and their employers providing advice and signposting during COVID-19 has been set-up by CITB. Please e-mail CITB at for assistance.

The FIS are investigating methods of electronic training provision.  Our E Learning facilities are always available to members pages.

Government Guidance: Coronavirus (COVID-19): apprenticeship programme response.  This document sets out guidance for apprentices, employers, training providers and assessment organisations in response to the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19).  It includes applying the policy on breaks in learning:

The Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education England:  IfATE has published new guidance on the delivery of assessment at

FEWEEK: Coronavirus, 9 key points from the government’s apprenticeships guidance.  For more details see:

Cross-Industry Construction Apprenticeship Task Force: A letter has been sent by CCATF Chair, Martyn W Price MBE, Chairman Cross-Industry Apprenticeship Task Force, Apprenticeship Ambassador, Workforce Development Director O’Halloran & O’Brien Ltd, to Rt.Hon. Gavin Williamson, Secretary of State for the Department for Education.  The letter includes a very specific ask and a call to action for the Minister to consider:

‘all flexibilities in the redistribution of any unspent current Apprenticeship Levy and suspend the expiry of any subsequent unspent future Levy funds, which are then ring fenced, for any future apprenticeship related interventions.’

CITB: Revise Support to Employers running funded projects.  A message from CITB states they understand that the progress of the commission may be affected.  There is no need to contact them with your concerns, members of the funding team will contact you, if they have not done so already.

24.3.20 Levy

The CITB Board are meeting this week to examine and discuss am range of options to help employers with the levy

23.3.20 Grants

CITB are urging all employers not to dismiss apprentices, the 20 week grant claim processing rule is frozen, they urge employers to check their Grant Online accounts for claims which need authorising, and to sign and return any paper Grant Claim forms we have issued as quickly as possible.

20.4.20 Health and Safety Testing:

Health and Safety test centres are temporarily closed they are working on alternative ways to test.  If you have any concerns or queries, please email:

17.3.20 National Construction College

All training at National Construction Colleges is cancelled.

19.3.20 Funding

Skills and training fund will launch as planned on 01 April 2020.  CITB are reviewing how funds can be used to help businesses retain essential skills and support managers to provide the right leadership.

16.3.20 Spring Engagements

All spring engagements are cancelled, on-line alternatives will be issued soon.

23.3.20 Apprenticeships

Employers are urged not to dismiss any apprentices.  It is clear that relief must come rapidly, and we will announce details in days rather than weeks.  A letter was issued to all CITB apprentices via email 19 March 2020.  Although college provision will cease liaison with CITB Apprenticeship Offices will continue via electronic means.

19.3.20 Construction Training Directory and Construction Training Register:

CITB Approved training Organisations are encouraged to relax cancellation and refund policies.

20.30.20 Site Safety Plus

CITB encourage all Site Safety Plus centres to relax cancellation and refund policies, additionally, any delegate whose SMSTS/SSSTS achievement has expired since 15 March 2020 and who hasn’t been able to renew in time due to COVID-19, will be allowed to take the refresher rather than the full course.

19.3.20 Quality Assurance

Quality Assurance activities are reduced to electronic responses.  Investigations will be risk assessed case by case as CITB’s compliance teams are committed to continuing their important work of identifying and protecting the construction industry from fraud risks relating to training delivery.

23.3.20 SkillsBuild:

The full Regional Qualifier schedule this year has been postponed, contingencies are under discussion.

20.3.20 Go Construct Ambassadors:

All Ambassador events are postponed until the end of April 2020.

For more detail check:

20.3.20 CSCS latest:

CSCS are asking the industry to support the following temporary measures:

  1. Requesting employers and those responsible for site access and card checking procedures to use their discretion towards workers whose cards have expired since mid-March onward and who can provide evidence that they have been unable to sit their test or undertake the required training as a result of the closure of Test and Training centres.

This is at the employer’s discretion until the situation has stabilised.

Government Action Plan
Click here

The Government have given more information about the action plan they are following here.

We are now in the Delay Phase, which is designed to slow the spread in this country, lowering the peak impact and pushing it away from the winter season.

The Governments approach is clinically led, based on the expert advice of the UK’s Chief Medical Officer for England, the NHS and Public Health England. Businesses should check for daily updates here and it is advisable to subscribe to receive email alerts to ensure they are acting on the most up to date information (FIS will be monitoring these on behalf of our members).

The Government has identified five things before it would consider it safe to adjust any of the current isolation measures:

  • Protect the NHS’s ability to cope and be confident that the NHS is able to provide sufficient critical care across the UK.
  • See a sustained and consistent fall in daily death rates to be confident the UK is beyond the peak.
  • Reliable data from Sage showing rate of infection is decreasing to manageable levels across the board.
  • Confident that testing capacity and PPE are in hand with supply able to meet future demand.
  • Confident that any adjustments to the current measures would not risk a second peak in infections which would overwhelm the NHS.
Additional useful resources from around the web
Click here

Government is also advising businesses to build their own resilience by reviewing their business continuity (see below), developing an understanding on the potential impacts to their supply chains, customers or other factors critical to their operations.

Crisis Communications 



FIS COVID-19 Strategy
Click here
FIS is dedicating all of our resources to supporting members through this difficult time.  Our strategy is focussed on:
  • Inform: Targeted, accurate, clear and tight information based on filtering and abridging official sources and helpful information shared through the FIS. Delivered through website, daily bulletins and social channels.
  • Engage: Reach out members on the phone to see how they are coping, check if our guidance is getting through and whether they have any specific needs we can meet. To ensure that they know we are there to help, to listen if they want to talk things through and reassure that they are not alone.
  • Develop: Creating new resources, tools and template resources to help members to develop their own business continuity plans and spare their resources to deal with the day-to-day.
  • Influence: Continue to feed intelligence in to the civil service and umbrella bodies to ensure that they are acting on the very latest information and feed in ideas around how support could be targeted for our sector. Critical is keeping sites open for as long as is practical and safe, should sites close the focus is emergency support for businesses.
  • Re-enforce: Amplify all through social media and ensure that we get critical and targeted help to as many people in as many businesses as is possible
  • Community: We are reaching out to the supply chain looking at how we can work together, sharing best practice and collating helpful advice and specific issues related to availability of products and logistics.
  • Network: Finally we are reaching out to our wider network, working with other trade bodies to share resources and with members of our community to develop a programme of targeted expert webinars and resources that we will roll out over the coming week.

You can access our latest daily update here

You can download the FIS Three stage COVID challenge (Hibernation, Hiatus and New Normal) here




Listen to our COVID-19 Webinars

Please remember that supporting below we have our legal helplines and feel free to contact with any specific questions/concerns or requests for information  – we will be dedicating all of the resources available to us to finding the answers and sharing best practice.  Likewise if you have access to information that you feel would benefit sharing with the wider community, please fire it in and we’ll do all we can to collate so it is clear/logical and accessible. 

We are grateful you our members and for sharing information and firing in the questions that is helping to keep this grounded and relevant, to our colleagues in the Department of Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) who are keeping us regularly briefed and rapidly feeding back on intelligence we are feeding in and of course our fellow Trade Associations, particularly BuildUK and the Construction Products Association for the support they are providing in these unprecedented times.