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.
HEALTH AND SAFETY TOOLKIT
Latest COVID-19 updates
20.11.20 – Changes to COVID Guidance on Showrooms in England – The Government has added further guidance on the closure of non‐essential businesses. The list now includes showrooms for products used in homes, including bathrooms, kitchens and glazing
19.11.20 – Level 4 Lockdown in Scotland tightens for tradespeople entering homes The Scottish Government has issued further guidance for Level 4 restrictions on construction work in homes.
18.11.20 – Following the publication last week of HMRC’s guidance on the extended furlough scheme which stated that the government was reviewing its stance on furlough being claimed during notice periods, this section of the guidance has now been updated.
17.11.20 – Public Showrooms – Further Government Guidance – The Government has added further guidance on the closure of non-essential businesses to include showrooms open to the public for products used in homes, including bathrooms, kitchens and glazing.
1.11.20 – Furlough extended in light of new National Lockdown The PM has announced that, in line with the new National Lockdown announced on the 31st October, Furlough arrangements through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will be extended “until December”.
31.10.20 – National Lockdown, but Construction to carry on Today the PM announced a new National Lockdown from Thursday 5th November for four weeks, but confirmed that construction should carry on.
15.10.20 – Changes to rulings on Face Covering in Scotland From Friday, anybody in a workplace canteen will have to wear a face covering unless they’re seated at a table or eating and drinking – bringing rules for workplace canteens into line with the rules in restaurants and cafes. The intention is to introduce regulations to require individuals to wear face coverings in communal areas in workplaces such as corridors. These will come into effect at the start of next week, giving employers a few days to prepare. Construction Scotland are working to assess any necessary updates to Site Operating Guidance.
15.10.20 – Building Winter Resilience – New Guidance from the CLC – As the risk of disruption due to the weather increases and adds to these risks, it has never been more important for the sector to manage the uncertainties of the second wave of COVID-19 and the end of the transition period after Brexit.
The Construction Leadership Council (CLC) now urges construction businesses of all sizes and types to strengthen not only their own, but whole supply chain winter resilience.
15.10.20 – CITB extends grace period for SMSTS and SSSTS – CITB has extended the grace period for expired Site Management Safety Training Scheme (SMSTS) and Site Supervisors’ Safety Training Scheme (SSSTS) certificates until 30 November 2020. Workers whose certificates expired after 15 March 2020 now have until this date to successfully complete the relevant refresher course; if a certificate is not renewed in time, the full course will need to be completed.
12.10.20 – Self-Employment Income Support Scheme grant extension: The grant is being extended from 1 November 2020. Find out here if you are eligible and how much you can get. Guidance is available on how HMRC will work out your trading profits and non-trading income if you’re self-employed or a member of a partnership and have been adversely affected by coronavirus. A video on how to claim the second grant step-by-step is also available.
6.10.20 – Scottish Construction Leadership Forum publish Scottish Construction Industry Recovery Plan – This draft recovery plan establishes a shared view across government, industry and trade unions of the short term response to Covid-19 and sets out the pathway between this and the longer term transformation required to build a stronger, fairer and greener economic future for Scotland.
5.10.20 – Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – Scheme to close on 31 October. Employers will need to make final claims on or before 30th November 2020. They will not be able to submit or add to any claims after this date.
2.10.20 Job Retention Bonus – Further information has been published on how businesses can claim the government’s Job Retention Bonus. Check your eligibility and find out how to apply.
1.10.20 – It is now a legal requirement for individuals in England to self‐isolate if they test positive for COVID‐19 or are contacted by NHS Test and Trace. Fines have been introduced for those breaching self‐isolation, ranging from £1,000 to up to £10,000 for repeat offences and the most serious breaches. Employers who force or allow staff to come to work when they should be self‐isolating will also be liable for fines of up to £10,000.
29.9.20 – Face Coverings in Construction during Coronavirus Face Coverings in Construction during Coronavirus – Following the introduction of new restrictions last week, the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) has updated its statement on face coverings. The Use of Face Coverings in Construction during Coronavirus (COVID‐19) now recommends that face coverings are worn where workers on site are not required to wear Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) and their workplace (which may include welfare and changing facilities, office or meetings rooms) meets all of the following criteria:
- an enclosed space;
- where social distancing isn’t always possible; and
- where they come into contact with others they do not normally meet.
In line with Government guidance on premises providing hospitality, face coverings must be worn in site canteens except when seated at a table to eat or drink.
29.9.20 – NHS QR Code Required in Canteens – Following the launch of the NHS COVID‐19 app in England and Wales, canteens must create and display an official NHS QR code poster. The list of designated venues includes ‘cafes including workplace canteens’ which must record contact details of customers, visitors and staff. The NHS QR code is the easiest way of doing this, and the Government guidance states that such venues in England “do not have to ask people who choose to ‘check in’ using the official NHS QR code to provide their contact details”.
28.9.20 Extension to insolvency measures – Measures to protect businesses from insolvency during coronavirus will be extended, including the virtual holding of AGMs until 30 December, restrictions on statutory demands and winding‐up petitions until 31 December, and the prohibition of termination clauses and the modifications to the moratorium procedure until 30 March 2021.
25.9.20 – Contact Tracing App Launched – The NHS COVID‐19 app has been launched in England and Wales to help control the spread of coronavirus. Construction sites can create a unique NHS QR code and posters to display at each site entrance. Sites can also play their part by encouraging their workforce to download and use the app outside of work
24.09.20 – Chancellor Rishi Sunak announces Job Support Scheme to replace furlough from 1 November – as part of a new winter economy plan the Chancellor announces a new package of support for businesses.
24.09.20 – Clarification around face masks in England and car journeys in Scotland – vital health and safety updates from around the UK
188.8.131.52 – Across the UK the Prime Minister and Devolved Leaders announce tighter restrictions, but that construction should carry on. As the infection rates rise, our political leaders announce a number of new measures to help slow the spread.
18.9.20 – Trade Credit Insurance Guidance: A vital lifeline for construction – The Construction Leadership Council guidance on trade credit insurance during COVID-19 has been updated to reflect the latest Reinsurance Scheme information. This includes a list of participating insurers and scheme rules. Trade Credit Insurance is a vital lifeline to the finishes and interiors sector.
14.9.20 Coronavirus (COVID-19): testing guidance for employers Guidance for employers and third-party healthcare providers on the regulations and legal obligations of running testing programmes.
10.9.20 – Companies House resumes voluntary strike off process Temporary measures to suspend voluntary strike off action were lifted from 10th September 2020.
2.9.20 – Reporting outbreaks of coronavirus – Action Cards: The Joint Biosecurity Centre has developed Action Cards, which reflect the latest advice on how to identify, manage and report a COVID-19 outbreak. The cards are designed as a useful visual checklist for businesses and bring together guidance and useful contacts to support your organisation’s planning. This will help businesses and other organisations work effectively with their local public health teams.
1.9.20 – Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme Guidance has been updated to reflect changes to the scheme:
- From 1 September the government will pay 70% and employers will pay 10% of employees’ wages for the time they are being furloughed. Employers will also continue to pay their National Insurance and pension contributions.
- From 1 October the government will pay 60% and employers will pay 20% of employees’ wages for the time they are being furloughed. Employers will also continue to pay their National Insurance and pension contributions.
- You will continue to pay employees wages at the contracted rate for the hours they work for you.
- The scheme ends on 31 October 2020.
1.9.20 – Information from Department for Transport (DfT), United Kingdom is available for employers to share with their staff to help them plan their journey to and from work. This includes advice on car sharing where the use of face coverings is now recommended.
28.8.20 – Scottish Construction Leadership Forum releases recovery plan in consultation with industry – A draft recovery plan for the construction sector in Scotland has been launched today by the Scottish Construction Leadership Forum (CLF). The plan, which has been created collaboratively with industry, sets out the pathway for joint action between industry and the public sector in response to the impact caused by the global pandemic on the on the construction sector.
18.8.20 HSE publish new guidance: RIDDOR reporting of COVID-19 -Members of the public and non-work-related cases There is no requirement under RIDDOR (The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013) to report incidents of disease or deaths of members of the public, patients, care home residents etc.
18.8.20 – The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme claim service is now open – If Labour Only Sub Contractors are eligible for the second and final Income Support Scheme grant, and have been adversely affected on or after 14 July 2020, you can make a claim on or before 19 October 2020.
18.8.20 – The clear effects of COVID-19 for construction in Q2 – The latest Construction Trade Survey which captures the second quarter of 2020 reveals the extent to which the construction supply chain was affected by public health measures as a result of the nationwide lockdown in response to COVID-19.
18.8.20 – Local Authority Amendments To The Standard Building Contracts Used In Scotland – In a letter supported by FIS issued to Kevin Steward MSP, Minister for Local Government Housing and Planning, the Chair of the CICV Forum draws attention to the unwelcome practice of amendments to Building Contracts in both the public and private sector
14.8.20 – New Guidance from BSI on Safe Working During the COVID-19 Pandemic – A new version of the ‘Safe Working During the COVID-19 Pandemic Guidelines’ is now available. Version 2 of the Guidelines offers a comprehensive, practical approach, applicable to all organizations, large and small.
14.8.20 – HSE statistics release: coronavirus disease reports and new support for reporting –Where a worker has been diagnosed as having COVID-19 and there is reasonable evidence to suggest that it was caused by occupational exposure, employers are required to report the case to the relevant enforcing authority
14.8.20 – New Construction Leadership Council (CLC) Advice on The Use of Face Coverings – In response to coronavirus, the use of face coverings has become mandatory in more public places, and construction employers have asked the CLC for guidance to help provide a consistent approach across the industry.
13.8.20 – Project Bank Accounts: availability and accessibility to subcontractors – CPN 7/2020 -This policy note reiterates Scottish Government policy on the inclusion of subcontractors in a Project Bank Account (PBA); and reinforces it in practice through a notice to subcontractors. Published: 12 Aug 2020 Project Bank Accounts: availability and accessibility to subbies.
12.8.20 – New law to ensure furloughed employees receive full redundancy payments – Government brings in law to ensure furloughed employees receive statutory redundancy pay based on their normal wages, rather than a reduced furlough rate. New law will ensure that furloughed employees receive statutory redundancy pay based on their normal wages
31.7.20 – Payment Practices and the CLC Contracts and Disputes Survey – The CLC has issued a Contracts and Disputes Survey to understand the nature and extent of commercial issues within the industry. The findings will inform a review and any updates to the CLC’s guidance and the deadline for responses is Friday 21 August.
30.7.20 – Construction Talent Retention Scheme – The new scheme, designed to match job opportunities to individuals seeking employment and run by the Construction Leadership Council (CLC), went live last Friday (24 July).
30.7.20 – Statement from the UK Chief Medical Officers on extension of self-isolation period: 30 July 2020 – The self-isolation period has been extended to 10 days for those in the community who have coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms or a positive test result.
30.7.20 – £20 million in new grants to boost recovery of small businesses – £20 million new funding announced to help smaller businesses recover from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
- Minister for Regional Growth and Local Government announces £20 million new funding to help businesses across England get back on track.
- Small and medium sized businesses in England can access grants between £1,000 – £5,000 for new equipment and technology and specialist advice
- Minister confirms new support while visiting businesses and local leaders across Cornwall
30.7.20 Scotland: New health and safety guidance helps careful return continue – As Scotland’s building sector continues its recovery, the CICV Forum (supported by FIS) has issued a raft of new health and safety guidance to help steer workers through the phased return. Guidance covers:
- Advice for businesses carrying out non-essential domestic work
- Health and safety checklist before work is carried out
- Effective use of face coverings
- Good hygiene and hand washing
- A questionnaire for clients before site visits
- What to do if someone displays symptoms of COVID-19
- Template letter for confirmed cases of COVID-19
The CICV Health and Safety Working Group have also updated the the comprehensive 42-page document, COVID-19 Construction Operating Guidance
30.7.20 Social distancing and making your workplace COVID-secure – New Guidance from the HSE to help ensure that workers and other people visiting your workplace understand and comply with the measures you put in place. McKinsey and Company have also published some excellent guidance to support Re-opening Workspaces amid COVID-19.
29.7.20 In Luton and in Blackburn with Darwen temporary measures to prevent further spread of coronavirus have been agreed. As a result changes planned in England for the reopening of: Indoor gyms; Indoor fitness and dance studios; Indoor sports courts and facilities; Indoor swimming pools; Bowling alleys; Indoor skating rinks; Casinos; and Exhibition halls and conference centres, will not take effect in Luton and Blackburn with Darwen. This will be formally reviewed by 8 August and every 2 weeks after that. All businesses that have already been permitted to open can remain open in Luton and in Blackburn with Darwen.
- A list of areas with additional local restrictions is available here.
More information on the Government’s approach to managing local coronavirus outbreaks can be found here.
29.7.20 New guidance for businesses and organisations on how to recognise, contain and report incidents of coronavirus has been published. COVID-19 early outbreak management information has been created to make sure that people who run businesses or organisations:• know how to recognise and report an incident of coronavirus• are aware of measures local health protection teams may advise in order to contain it.
Action cards have been developed to cover a range of businesses and organisations to provide specific advice on the issues each type of organisation may face now lockdown restrictions have been eased. The cards are designed to be printed or downloaded to keep on hand in your business or organisation. You can download the relevant worksheets here for construction, shops and branches (which we are assuming covers show rooms) and manufacturing. (note all are approved for use in England only).
28.7.20 The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) has announced a number of new policies, which should help to support construction activity, and further detail has been published including:
- Changes to Use Classes Order ‐ From 1 September 2020, a number of existing uses will be condensed into a single commercial, business and service use, which means that planning permission will not be required for changing use going forward. There are a list of exemptions, including pubs, bars, nightclubs and take‐away food establishments, which will continue to require planning permission.
- A new permitted development right ‐ From 31 August 2020, commercial buildings will be able to be replaced with residential buildings using a streamlined prior approval process, rather than a full planning application. There will be a number of qualifications, including a vacancy test of six months, a size limitation of 1,000 square metres, and a height limit of 18 metres.
- Affordable Homes Guarantee Scheme ‐ A new £3 billion scheme will increase investment in providers of affordable housing and support the delivery of a significant number of new affordable homes. The contract for a delivery partner to operate the scheme should be awarded over the coming weeks and the scheme will be open for business by the end of the year.
28.7.20 The Government has published guidance on extending construction working hours introduced in the Business and Planning Act. Companies are now able to request extended and flexible site working hours through a fast‐track application process, with Local Authorities having 14 calendar days to make a decision otherwise the revised working hours will be deemed to have been consented to.
24.07.20 New Guidance on Face Coverings and status across the UK – As new mandatory requirements come in, Government has provided a summary of Face Covering requirements. FIS has been advised that Site Operating Procedures do not need to change, but we urge members to review their requirements against our guidance and to consider how you will be informing and equipping your workforce.
23.07.20 Scottish Government publishes guidance on home working – At today’s Covid-19 briefing Economy Secretary Fiona Hyslop stressed the ongoing importance of homeworking to the country’s public health response. The guidance which covers health and safety and workforce planning and support notes that “Organisations should make every reasonable effort to make working from home the default position. Where a worker can perform their work from home, they should continue to do so.”
23.07.20 Barbour ABI: Contract awards on the up – According to Barbour ABI data, the total value of construction contract awards in June was £2.2 billion based on a three month rolling average. Compared to May 2020, this is a decrease of 9.2% and is also 57.3% lower than June 2019
22.7.20 COVID-19 Cost Assessment Toolkit Launched – The Professional Practice Task Group for the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) Covid-19 Task Force has today published a methodology for assessing and reporting the cost implications of disruption due to the pandemic.
22.7.20 Supporting safe use of public transport – As part of the easing of lock down restrictions, people may now use public transport in England for any journey, although they are still being encouraged to consider alternative means of transport where possible.
21.7.20 New HSE guidance on disinfecting premises – The HSE has published new guide guidance on Disinfecting premises using fog, mist, vapour or ultraviolet (UV) systems during the coronavirus outbreak. If you choose to use fog, mist, vapour or UV treatments as a way of cleaning and disinfecting surfaces
16.7.20 Future-Proofing Guide For Contracts Launched – Build UK issued a statement this week, reiterating that after everything the industry has been through over the last few months, and with more uncertainty ahead, the overriding message from the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) has been that our sector’s long‐term resilience depends on working collaboratively. It is therefore extremely disappointing to receive evidence that some companies are reverting to bad habits and squeezing their supply chains, rather than taking the opportunity to revolutionise the way in which construction projects are delivered.
16.7.20 New Toolkit signals shift to value based procurement – Led by the Construction Leadership Council and supported by a Government-backed R&D programme, the Construction Innovation Hub is working with Government and leading industry bodies from the Construction sector to develop a new ‘Value Toolkit’ intended to help policy makers and clients make faster, informed decisions which incentivise industry to respond with innovative, high value solutions.
The Toolkit will support better decision-making throughout the whole investment lifecycle from business case through to procurement and delivery and operation, improving overall sector performance consistent with key policy objectives such as driving Modern Methods of Construction (MMC), delivering social impact and accelerating the path towards Net Zero.
15.7.20 Welsh charter for safe working practice COVID-19 – Home Builders Federation (HBF) Wales, in conjunction with the Welsh Government has launched a house building Site Safety Charter to help construction sites reopen in line with latest health and safety guidance.
15.7.20 Construction sector in Scotland gets green light for Phase 4 of Covid-19 restart plan – Construction sites have been given the all clear to progress to Phase 4 of the Construction Restart Plan after ministers were assured the move would not affect the supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) within the NHS. Announcing the move into Phase 4.
15.7.20 Providing apprenticeships during the COVID-19 outbreak – Guidance has been updated to confirm that from 13 July 2020 providers can welcome back 19 plus apprentices into educational settings, that the flexibility to suspend level 2 functional skills for level 2 apprentices has been extended.
13.7.20 HMRC clarifies new Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme guidance – HMRC has published revised guidance on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme for both employers and employees which clarifies the position about the ability to claim the scheme’s grants for wage costs during notice periods.
13.7.20 Benchmarking use of Facemasks and PPE – BuildUK carried out a snapshot survey of its Contractor members in June 2020 to understand their current policies on the provision of face coverings to workers in response to coronavirus.
10.07.20 CPA – UK Economic and Construction Update and Construction Redundancy Tracker In addition to the key points from the Chancellor’s Summer Statement on Wednesday and CPA’s tracker of redundancies in the construction supply chain.
The updated issues are in Pages 1-2 of the weekly update including:
- Issues regarding the Chancellor’s Summer Statement
- The IHS Markit/CIPS Construction PMI for June
- Barratt results
- Persimmon results
- Vistry results
- Commercial rents vs Industrial rents
Subsequent pages have existing construction data that remain relevant.
10.7.20 The Scottish Government has announced that the next phase of easing lockdown will commence today with up to three households able to meet indoors for the first time – up to a maximum of eight people. Meanwhile, up to five different households to a maximum of 15 people will from tomorrow be able to meet outdoors. From Wednesday 22nd July colleges and universities can begin a phased return to on campus learning as part of a blended model with remote teaching and public health measures in place. We still await details of how construction can move to the next phase of the Construction Roadmap.
10.7.20 The Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak MP announced his Plan for Jobs. In his speech he announced a bonus to retain Furloughed staff of £1,000, £2bn temporary job creation scheme for the under-25s, an apprenticeship recruitment incentive payment for England, a £3bn programme to make homes and public buildings more environmentally friendly (England), a Construction Talent Retention Scheme (TRS) to support the redeployment of workers at risk of redundancy, an £111m investment to triple the scale of traineeships in 2020-21 (England), a New Job Retention Bonus, further jobcentre coaching investment, as well as £17 million of funding for sector-based work academies.
The Chancellor also announced a new Construction Talent Retention Scheme, a product of collaborative development work between government and industry driven by the Construction Leadership Council’s Industry Task Force. Work on the TRS has been led by the Association for Consultancy and Engineering and supported by CITB.
10.7.20 Build UK has produced a brief report summarising the approaches being taken by its Contractor members with regard to the use of face coverings. Based on the assumption that a risk assessment had been undertaken and any PPE required for particular tasks provided, our snapshot survey requested members’ policies on the provision of face coverings in response to coronavirus.
8.7.20 Build UK continues to work with Constructionline to measure the impact of coronavirus on the industry and the latest infographic based on data submitted from over 8,600 suppliers reveals that almost half are reporting at least a 20% impact on productivity. 59% of suppliers have suspended operations at some point due to coronavirus, and sites in Scotland remain a particular challenge with 63% of operations still suspended to some degree last week.
8.7.20 The deadline for eligible individuals to claim their first grant under the Self‐Employment Income Support Scheme, worth 80% of their average monthly trading profits for three months up to £7,500, is next Monday 13 July 2020.
Individuals will also be able to claim a second and final grant from 17 August, where they can confirm their business has been adversely affected by coronavirus from 14 July. The second grant will be equivalent to 70% of average monthly trading profits for three months, paid out in a single instalment, capped at £6,570. Individuals will be able to claim for the second grant even if they did not make a claim for the first one.
7.7.20 Return to work safely guidance for employers in Wales – The Welsh Government has now published safe re-start guidance for seven sectors of Welsh businesses. This includes the guidance on construction and outdoor working as well as guidance for offices and contact centres that will apply to test centres in Wales.
3.7.20 Safe working in domestic environment – The government and industry have written new guidelines for tradespeople that promote safe working in and around people’s homes. This three-part guide will help individuals to know what to do before, while and after they have tradespeople working for them to promote safe working in and around the home.
A link to the website Developed by TrustMark ‘Work Safe, Safe Work’ is here.
3.7.20 The Builders Merchants Federation has updated its branch operating guidelines. There are separate regulations/guidance in place in Scotland and Wales.
2.7.20 The Insurance and Surety Working Group for the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) COVID-19 Task Force has produced the following guidance to assist companies in preparing to access surety. This guidance aims to provide practical advice and considerations for discussions with brokers and providers when seeking bonds. It includes recommendations on the information that should be collected and presented.
1.7.20 The Site Operating Procedures have been updated by the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) to reflect the latest Government guidance following the easing of lockdown measures in England from Saturday 4 July. The ‘one metre plus’ social distancing guidelines require workers to stay two metres apart, or one metre with risk mitigation where two metres is not viable, and it is expected that sites will maintain the social distancing measures in place. You are reminded that whilst Northern Ireland is following the 1m plus approach from Monday, Wales and Scotland still require 2m social distancing.
1.7.20 ‘Flexible furloughing’ comes into effect as part of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme today, allowing employers to bring furloughed employees back to work for any number of hours/shift pattern, whilst still claiming grant for the hours not worked. Flexible furloughing agreements must be for a minimum of one week and confirmed in writing. Detailed guidance is available for employers, along with an online calculator to help with working out claims.
The deadline for submitting claims for furlough periods ending on or before 30 June is 31 July 2020. If you have overclaimed through the scheme, you can repay your grant by either correcting it in your next claim or making a payment to HMRC if you are not making another claim.
30.6.20 Prime Minister Announces Government’s commitment to ‘Build Build Build’, bringing forward £5 billion of capital investment projects to support jobs and the economic recovery, alongside radical reforms to the planning system.
Described by the Prime Minister as a ‘New Deal’, the ambition is to build better, greener and faster. Chancellor Rishi Sunak will chair a new taskforce known as Project Speed and the investment in infrastructure will include:
- £1.5 billion this year for hospital maintenance
- £100 million this year for 29 road projects
- Over £1 billion to fund the first 50 projects of a new ten‐year school rebuilding programme, starting from 2020‐21
- £560 million and £200 million this year for repairs and upgrades to schools and FE colleges respectively
- £142 million for digital upgrades and maintenance to around 100 courts, £83 million for maintenance of prisons and youth offender facilities, and £60 million for temporary prison places
- £900 million for a range of ‘shovel ready’ local growth projects in England over the course of this year and next, as well as £96 million to accelerate investment in town centres and high streets through the Towns Fund.
New planning regulations will enable existing commercial properties, including newly vacant shops, to be converted into new homes. These will be supported by a package of measures, including a £12 billion affordable homes programme supporting up to 180,000 new affordable homes over the next eight years and a £450 million boost for the Home Builders Fund to help smaller developers and support around 7,200 new homes.
29.6.20 The Corporate Insolvency and Governance Bill received Royal Assent on 25 June, and has become an Act of Parliament. The legislation offers new flexibilities in the insolvency and company law frameworks, giving companies breathing space to help get through this difficult economic time.
On Tuesday 30th June there will be a webinar covering the corporate governance measures – which provide flexibilities to companies in how they run their AGMs (where relevant), and filings at Companies House. You can book a free place 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
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.
- The coronavirus Local Authority Discretionary Grants Fund – a grant to support small and micro businesses with fixed property costs that are not eligible for the Small Business Grant Fund or the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund may be eligible for the Discretionary Grants Scheme. To be eligible, a business must be based in England, have fewer than 50 employees, has fixed building costs such as rent and was trading on 11 March 2020 has been adversely impacted by the coronavirus. You cannot apply if your business pays business rates.
- 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
The Government have unveiled a package of support for the self-employed.
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.
- 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
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.
Economic Impact On Construction - Briefings
Access the latest economic, sector research and intelligence briefings brought to you by FIS Partners, Barbour ABI and the Construction Products Association (CPA)
Construction Products Association
Barbour ABI has stopped publishing weekly updates, for their latest monthly report – Click here
FIS COVID-19 Strategy
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.
Government Action Plan
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.
Essential workers, accommodation, site opening times and other useful resources
Travel and Accomadation
To help contractors working away from home find local accommodation: Build UK has temporarily repurposed its Open Doors website. There are now 340 providers listed offering 22,000 beds.
An Essential Workers letter has been prepared to support the booking process. This can be downloaded here.
Site Opening Times
On 13 May 2020, the government published a written ministerial statement on planning and construction working hours. This statement expects local planning authorities to approve requests to extend construction working hours temporarily to ensure safe working in line with social distancing guidelines until 9pm, Monday to Saturday, unless there are very compelling reasons against this.
- Harvard Business Review: Communicating Through The Coronavirus Crisis
- Hubspot: Crisis Communication & Management Templates
COVID-19 Skills, Training & Apprenticeships Updates
27.05.20 FEWEEK Incorporation: The end of an experiment or the end of a myth? Ministers are considering taking colleges back into government control, as revealed last week in FEWEEK. But, Jess Staufenberg asks, was incorporation ever what it was cracked up to be? FEWEEK Government control of colleges
27.05.20 CITB: Updates response to support the construction industry and CITB would like to receive feedback via customer voice reports. CITB CEO Twice Weekly Update
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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 https://voxeu.org/article/apprenticeship-and-youth-unemployment
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: https://www.hse.gov.uk/news/work-equipment-coronavirus.htm
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 https://www.citb.co.uk/documents/coronavirus/addendum_to_cas_covid19.pdf
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: https://www.citb.co.uk/about-citb/news-events-and-blogs/uk/2020/04/citb-coronavirus-response-update-21-april/
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; https://gov.wales/five-ways-wales-leading-way-delivering-digital-education-services
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. https://www.tes.com/news/coronavirus-end-speculation-over-schools-reopening
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: https://feweek.co.uk/2020/04/09/t-level-content-finally-published-as-minister-says-most-colleges-wanted-to-continue/
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: https://feweek.co.uk/2020/04/14/dfe-cancels-achievement-rates-publication-in-2021-for-all-providers/
14.04.20 World Health Organisation How to put on and how to remove personal protective equipment – posters available: https://www.who.int/csr/resources/publications/ebola/ppe-steps/en/
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 https://www.tes.com/news/coronavirus-employers-urge-dfe-protect-fe-sector
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: https://www.urban.org/urban-wire/three-ways-policymakers-can-support-apprenticeships-during-pandemic
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: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-apprenticeship-programme-response/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-apprentices-employers-training-providers-end-point-assessment-organisations-and-external-quality-assurance-pro
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: https://www.qualificationswales.org/english/coronavirus—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: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/awarding-vocational-and-technical-qualifications-this-summer
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: https://www.expressandstar.com/news/business/business-picks/2020/04/08/training-leaders-warn-thousands-of-apprenticeships-have-been-put-at-risk/
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:https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus/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: https://feweek.co.uk/2020/04/04/breaking-hmrc-publish-furlough-and-training-guidance-for-apprentices/
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: https://www.citb.co.uk/about-citb/news-events-and-blogs/uk/2020/04/citb-coronavirus-response-update-3-april/
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: https://www.cscs.uk.com/applying-for-cards/industry-accreditation-withdrawal/
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: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-support-for-businesses.
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. https://feweek.co.uk/2020/04/02/treasury-confirms-colleges-can-furlough-staff/
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: https://feweek.co.uk/2020/04/03/home-assessment-guidance-too-vague-and-open-to-malpractice-say-awarding-bodies/
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: https://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-question/Commons/2020-03-18/31547/
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: www.constructionleadershipcouncil.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/CLC-letter-to-PM-01-April-2020.pdf
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: https://www.lepnetwork.net/about-leps/location-map/
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: https://www.personneltoday.com/hr/apprenticeship-providers-on-brink-of-collapse/
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: https://feweek.co.uk/2020/04/01/supplier-relief-liverpool-reveals-covid-19-provider-support/
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 https://feweek.co.uk/2020/04/02/funding-agency-pause-planned-audits-during-covid-19-lockdown/
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: https://www.citb.co.uk/about-citb/news-events-and-blogs/uk/2020/04/citb-coronavirus-response-update-2-april/
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: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/help-and-support-if-your-business-is-affected-by-coronavirus-covid-19?utm_source=9da270a9-61a1-4408-bb6c-bfb58daa54a8&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=govuk-notifications&utm_content=immediate
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: https://www.citb.co.uk/levy-grants-and-funding/grants-funding/skills-and-training-fund/
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: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/procurement-policy-note-0220-supplier-relief-due-to-covid-19 and comes ahead of any news of support from the Education and Skills Funding Agency. For full details see: https://feweek.co.uk/2020/03/31/supplier-relief-deal-to-pay-private-training-providers-with-no-course-delivery-for-next-three-months/
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: https://www.instituteforapprenticeships.org/covid-19-information-regarding-apprenticeships/covid-19-faq/
31.03.20 FE WEEK The Department for Education suspends £9m College Collaboration Fund: https://feweek.co.uk/2020/03/30/coronavirus-dfe-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: https://feweek.co.uk/2020/03/31/dfe-wont-force-colleges-to-stay-open-during-easter-to-support-the-vulnerable/
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: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4I8fX0Q5wbU&feature=youtu.be
30.03.20 CITB Limited service in place to keep operatives up to date with Site Safety Plus. Coronavirus toolbox talk available: https://www.citb.co.uk/coronavirus-toolbox-talk/
30.03.20 CITB A comprehensive list of CITB contacts and associated service is available at; https://www.citb.co.uk/about-citb/contact-citb/. 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: https://www.citb.co.uk/about-citb/news-events-and-blogs/blogs/2020/03/coronavirus-response-plan/
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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: https://www.citb.co.uk/urgent-messages/
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: https://feweek.co.uk/2020/03/27/esfa-claims-for-level-2-business-admin-alternative-disputed/
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 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BfgLoOWahVE&feature=youtu.be
More information at: https://www.citb.co.uk/urgent-messages/
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: https://feweek.co.uk/2020/03/23/coronavirus-furious-aelp-boss-says-government-wants-skills-sector-to-collapse/
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 https://www.citb.co.uk/levy-grants-and-funding/grants-funding/apprenticeship-grants/apprenticeship-grant-advance/.
25.03.20 – CITB Grants: CITB are unable to support Levy and Grant telephone lines, urgent enquiries should be sent by email email@example.com. 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: https://www.citb.co.uk/about-citb/news-events-and-blogs/uk/2020/03/citb-paying-apprenticeship-grants-in-advance-/
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 https://www.imagitechmedia1.co.uk/CITB/Downloads/GT200_LITE_19_DL.html
For test guidelines please see: https://www.citb.co.uk/global/courses-quals/hse-test/hse_test_delivery_guidelines.pdf
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:https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-apprenticeship-programme-response
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 Apprenticeships.COVID19@citb.co.uk 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:https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-apprenticeship-programme-response
The Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education England: IfATE has published new guidance on the delivery of assessment at https://www.instituteforapprenticeships.org/response-to-covid-19/
FEWEEK: Coronavirus, 9 key points from the government’s apprenticeships guidance. For more details see: https://feweek.co.uk/2020/03/23/coronavirus-9-key-points-from-the-governments-apprenticeships-guidance/
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.
The CITB Board are meeting this week to examine and discuss am range of options to help employers with the levy
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: HSEtestdev@citb.co.uk
17.3.20 National Construction College
All training at National Construction Colleges is cancelled.
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.
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.
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: https://www.citb.co.uk/urgent-messages/
20.3.20 CSCS latest:
CSCS are asking the industry to support the following temporary measures:
- 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.
HEALTH AND SAFETY TOOLKIT
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Please remember that supporting below we have our legal helplines and feel free to contact firstname.lastname@example.org 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.