FIS COVID-19 Update – 7 April 2020

Dear All

This morning we woke up to the news that more sites in Wales and Scotland will, under new guidelines, close.  The stronger guidance issued yesterday evening by Scottish Economy Secretary, Fiona Hyslop stated that non-essential construction (as defined by the Scottish Government) should stop. It appears most contractors in Scotland are taking on board this guidance, but it falls short of being a legal requirement and is still, as a consequence, not absolute. 

In Wales the approach adopted has been different, non-essential works can carry on, but only if the 2m distancing rule can be maintained.  This 2m rule is now enshrined in Regulation in Wales.  

Regardless of the reality on the ground, our Government in Westminster still maintains that their position is clear – construction should carry on, if safe to do so.  In light of this, we are aware of new pressure to open sites after Easter and concerns in terms of safety and practicalities such as furloughed staff, material availability and sourcing appropriate PPE.  Whilst in the last couple of days, we have received less reports of strong contractual letters and even had some reassurance that pragmatic discussions are taking place, we are still getting reports that unreasonable pressure is being applied in certain quarters and, beyond the clear and present danger that the virus presents we have a growing threat of contract disputes and LADs.

The position of the FIS Board is clear, priority must be the health and safety of our workforce and we will continue to press for clarity around what is meant by essential work and better support through Site Operating Procedures. We must step up again and do more to support our members with their contractual concerns (we are currently reviewing options here and will revert back).  Beyond this we are cognisant of the economic and social need for work to resume where safe.  It is for this reason that we initiated the work of our COVID-19 H&S Task Group this afternoon.  The message I took away from this meeting, apart from some optimism again in the way our community is rallying, is that things have changed, not just for the now, but for the foreseeable – our mission must be to find a new and practical normal.  The output of the first stage of this work will be a RAG risk assessment that we will aim to publish early next week.  This is a big piece of work and will undoubtedly evolve over the months and weeks ahead.  I am grateful to the able group of volunteers who assembled today on GoToMeeting, rolled up their sleeves and got stuck in.  If you want to learn more and get involved, let me know.    

Please do keep information and views flowing in and stay safe,

Iain

PS I would also like to use this opportunity to say thanks to the FIS Board who have, as well as managing their own business given time to weekly Board meetings.  They have been a ready source of advice and support to your team at the FIS, steering our activities – you voted a good bunch!  In the meeting yesterday, they also made the offer that members of the Board are willing to volunteer for a number of mentoring sessions with members each week.  Whilst we put a process in place, if you are keen to book a slot, let me know and I’ll make the necessary arrangements and match you with the most appropriate. 

Iain McIlwee
CEO: Finishes and Interiors Sector
M: 07792 959 481  E:
iainmcilwee@thefis.org

FIS Webinars

8 April 2020 – Midday -1pm: Claiming R&D Tax Credits, a potential lifeline

With the continuing COVID-19 outbreak leaving many businesses in our sector unable to continue working as normal, many are now left counting costs. In a time where cash flow is scarce, this webinar hones in on this important source of funding available via the government’s R&D tax incentives.  We’ve partnered with the UK’s largest R&D tax credit specialists, Forrest Brown, to bring you an important webinar on how you can quickly access this valuable funding.

9 April 2020 2-3pm: ICAEW is hosting a webinar on “Understanding Insolvencythis will provide insight into the new Insolvency Laws.  They have agreed to help FIS with a follow-up webinar specifically for our community, hopefully next week, but in the meantime this seminar may be of interest for the more technically minded (targeted at accounting practitioners) and it will include a Q&A.

FIS Webinars (listen again)

For a full list, click here

Latest Updates

The Cabinet Office has published Guidance Notes for Construction Contracts, providing detailed information for public authorities on how to implement Procurement Policy Note 02/20.  New guidance makes it clear that suppliers and contractors must be supported although they should be prevented from claiming separate relief from another source of government financial support on Covid-19 e.g. Furlough – “to the effect that the supplier gains an undue advantage by claiming relief twice for the same hardship”.

RIDDOR reporting of COVID-19, HSE now determines that you must only make a report under RIDDOR highlighting that:

When an unintended incident at work has led to someone’s possible or actual exposure to coronavirus – this must be reported as a dangerous occurrence.

OR

When a worker has been diagnosed as having COVID 19 and there is reasonable evidence that it was caused by exposure at work – this must be reported as a case of disease.

Two-metre rule will protect all workers in Wales from coronavirus – The regulations will mean the 2 metre social distancing rule will apply to any workplace, including homes, where work and repairs are being undertaken and outdoor spaces. The new rules apply to those workplaces not already covered by the original stay-at-home rules introduced almost 2 weeks ago.  The regulation does not state construction works must stop, but can continue if the 2m rule can be upheld.  A further challenge in Wales for construction workers is the advice from Transport for Wales that states:

Roads should only be used:

  • by key workers (such as health professionals)
  • for travelling to provide support in local communities
  • to get to shops for essential food and medical supplies.

It is currently unclear how this will be interpreted in relation to construction workers, where there is still no definition for essential works, but for those travelling to site it is advisable that they carry a letter of authorisation (see template resources below).  It is important to note in Wales, this 2m working rule is a Regulatory requirement.

Scottish Government issues Guidance that non -essential construction works should cease Work on construction sites, unless it is for essential projects (as defined in the new Critical National Infrastructure List), should stop immediately.  The guidance makes clear that work on non-essential construction projects should cease.  Any project deemed essential can only continue operating if it can comply with guidance on social distancing, safety and welfare during the COVID-19 outbreak. Any site unable to meet these requirements should close.  This guidance will be reviewed again in 3 weeks, but the position is work should not begin again until it is clear how operations can be undertaken safely and in a way that is fully compliant with social distancing. 

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”.  

Guidance for first responders and others in close contact with symptomatic people with potential COVID-19 – in our H&S call today, this useful advice was flagged up, which gives first aiders an update on how to manage a situation where CPR may be required.

Noble and the economics team at the Construction Products Association have also been producing a regularly updated Covid-19 Market Impact Report and we hope that the detailed insight and scenario planning are of help to all of you trying to navigate the business impact that we are currently experiencing (this was updated yesterday).

Template Resources

Guidance to issue to self-employed workers on reporting to work, risk mitigation and self-isolation

FIS Contractual and Legal Toolkit that includes standard letters to support lay-off, furlough and short-time working here

FIS COVID-Risk Management Toolkit

COVID-19 – Risk Assessment for Site

COVID19 Employee Welfare Policy

Guidance on Contractual Issues Caused by Coronavirus

CLC Site Operating Procedures

CLC Advice note on temporary closure of sites

Letter of Authorisation template

The FIS Risk Management Tool has been updated to support key Cash Flow Management Guidance.

If you want to book an FIS Skills Clinic to help you to look at how you can optimise this support, simply email the FIS at info@thefis.org

 

 

FIS COVID-19 Update – 6 April 2020

 

Dear All

 

I hope this finds you well that you found some time to enjoy the weekend.

 

Following another nebulous update from the Secretary of State at the weekend we continue to press for greater clarity on precisely what construction work should be continuing.  We have also turned attention to look at specific areas of concern surrounding the CLC Site Operating Procedures, notably the challenge of complying with 2m social distancing recommendations and are working with suppliers to understand the state of play with respect to material availability and distribution.

 

The new FIS COVID-19 H&S Taskforce is being tasked to produce a risk matrix that determines whether tasks are Red (cannot be done whilst maintaining 2m distancing), Amber (through use of additional tools/revised process/appropriate mitigation can be completed safely) and Green (are safe to do with minimal change to existing RAMs) that can be used to review the practicality of restarting or completing works.  We also intend to use it as a forum to review innovative ideas and exchange best practice guidance to support the wider sector.

 

In the Build UK update this morning they point to the fact that liquidity is critical and acknowledge that response from clients and contractors is key to the survival of businesses of all sizes. “There is a choice: fall back on contracts, pay for costly legal advice, and prepare for adversarial disputes or bring the supply chain together, and collectively look at how construction work can continue without putting workers at risk”.  Please  keep that flow of information regarding clients and contractors coming in so we can provide support (directly or through QS and legal companies that we work with), but also so we can highlight patterns and problem areas/companies and work with colleagues in Build UK and other trade bodies to bring collective pressure to bear.

 

On liquidity, beyond the contractual elements, on Friday the Chancellor took further action by bolstering business interruption loans for small businesses and announcing a new scheme for larger companies. We also have access to some new and detailed guidance through the CLC (see below) and arranged a webinar on R&D Tax Credits on Wednesday (we have had good feedback from members over the past few months on successful claims).  Every little helps and I also remind you of the support you can get from FIS in terms of booking one-to-one Skills Funding Clinics to review future and historic claims.

 

Please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions/comments/ideas or to highlight your concerns.

 

All the best,

 

Iain

 

Iain McIlwee
CEO: Finishes and Interiors Sector
M: 07792 959 481  E:
iainmcilwee@thefis.org

 

FIS Webinars

 

8 April 2020 – 12-1pm: Claiming R&D Tax Credits, a potential lifeline

 

With the continuing COVID-19 outbreak leaving many businesses in our sector unable to continue working as normal, many are now left counting costs. In a time where cash flow is scarce, this webinar hones in on this important source of funding available via the government’s R&D tax incentives.  We’ve partnered with the UK’s largest R&D tax credit specialists, ForrestBrown, to bring you an important webinar on how you can quickly access this valuable funding.

 

FIS Webinars (listen again)

 

 

For a full list, click here

 


Latest Updates

 

Business Secretary appeals to everyone to stay calm and carry on the good work.  Business Secretary, Alok Sharma, writes for The Sun on Sunday thanking workers and businesses for their support during the coronavirus pandemic.  FIS responds, pointing again to confusion still being perpetrated in the statement around essential works and the practicality of 2m safe distancing rules.

 

 

 

Update from Build UK – We are entering the third week of lockdown and liquidity is now the critical issue for construction. This point was made loud and clear to the Construction and HS2 Ministers last week by representatives from across the supply chain.

 

The response from clients and contractors will be key to the survival of businesses of all sizes. There is a choice: fall back on contracts, pay for costly legal advice, and prepare for adversarial disputes or bring the supply chain together, and collectively look at how construction work can continue without putting workers at risk.

 

Build UK continues to work closely with the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) to ensure that the Government supports the construction sector and that our members have access to all the information and advice they need to make decisions at this difficult time.

 

New Guide Coronavirus Employment Schemes – has been produced on behalf of the CLC, authored by our industry colleagues at the Association for Consultancy and Engineering (ACE) and approved by government officials.  It includes a suggested process for managing furlough in relation to the other guidance such as Site Operating Procedures or critical works list.  This briefing paper includes a comprehensive FAQs list on construction specific queries.

 

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme revamped in light of increasing calls from business owners that financial support is not getting through sufficiently quickly, or at all,  to those who need it most. Only £145million of the £330billion finance made available by the government has been lent to date.  Reforms include:

 

  • The removal of the need for businesses to show that they can’t get a loan on normal commercial terms before they qualify for the loan scheme.
  • Banning the requirement of personal guarantees for loans of up to £250,000.
  • Although personal guarantees can be sought for loans over £250,000, they will be limited to 20% of any amount outstanding on the lending after other recoveries from business assets.
  • Making operational changes to speed up lending approval.

 

The new rules about security will extend to loans already made to ensure all businesses are treated equally under the scheme. Although the government had previously banned the taking of security against principal private residences, many business owners were not prepared to offer any personal security at a time of such uncertainty.

 

New Guidance published on use of Face Masks in non-Clinical settings

 

A new Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme will offer 80% government guarantees on loans of up to £25million to businesses with an annual turnover of between £45million and £500million  (the ‘squeezed middle’ who fell between the previously announced schemes of support for SMEs and larger businesses). These loans will be offered at commercial lending rates and further details will be announced shortly.

 

FIS to establish COVID-19 H&S Taskforce.  There are a number of instances that are being identified in the Finishes and Interiors Sector where it may not be possible to comply with the 2m individual proximity rule.  FIS is establishing a structured process to look at individual tasks and situations and is forming a taskforce to review the list, create appropriate risk assessments and identify options, that will ensure, where possible, works can continue safely.  Through this process we aim to produce clear unambiguous guidance and a more agile approach to review innovative solutions and support the sharing of best practice.  We are asking companies in our community to complete the this questionnaire to help initiate this work.

 

Noble and the economics team at the Construction Products Association have also been producing a regularly updated Covid-19 Market Impact Report and we hope that the detailed insight and scenario planning are of help to all of you trying to navigate the business impact that we are currently experiencing (this was updated yesterday).

 

Template Resources

 

Guidance to issue to self-employed workers on reporting to work, risk mitigation and self-isolation

 

FIS Contractual and Legal Toolkit that includes standard letters to support lay-off, furlough and short-time working here

 

FIS COVID-Risk Management Toolkit

 

COVID-19 – Risk Assessment for Site

 

COVID19 Employee Welfare Policy

 

Guidance on Contractual Issues Caused by Coronavirus

 

CLC Site Operating Procedures

 

CLC Advice note on temporary closure of sites

 

Letter of Authorisation template

 

The FIS Risk Management Tool has been updated to support key Cash Flow Management Guidance.

 

If you want to book an FIS Skills Clinic to help you to look at how you can optimise this support, simply email the FIS at info@thefis.org

 

FIS COVID-19 Update – 2 April 2020 – NOTE SINCE PUBLICATION VERSION TWO OF THE SITE OPERATING PROCEDURES WAS RECALLED AND VERSION ONE REINSTATED 

 

Dear All

 

Managing some of the seemingly conflicting advice (the “where possible” effect) about the 2m rule where work is continuing has been a major concern for our sector – revised Site Operating Procedures have now been issued by the Construction Leadership Council.  This now emphatically clarifies that:

 

There will be situations where it is not possible or safe for workers to distance themselves from each other by 2 metres. In these situations, work should not be carried out. 

 

The full document can be downloaded in the Updates below.

 

Yesterday afternoon The Construction Leadership Council (CLC) wrote to the Prime Minister setting out a range of further measures that would help to support the construction sector at this time. These include suspending PAYE and CIS tax due in April and May, deferring or cancelling the Apprenticeship Levy, releasing retention monies held by the public sector, and extending business continuity grants.  In the letter they also recognise how a lack of clarity in advice is now leading to serious issues in terms of materials availability and distribution. 

 

I can honestly say that I have never been more proud to work with members of the FIS and as part of any community than in the past week – it has been inspiring to understand how people are rising to this crisis and sharing as a community.  Please keep this information coming in. It is all helping and being used to help inform the wider industry and Government.  On the flip side, at times, the construction sector as a whole has had me sat here with my head in my hands dealing with three main negatives – clients not paying (because people are on furlough or holiday), issuing draconian pay less notices (because they think they’ll be able to get away with it) and forcing people to work regardless of safety concerns.   Just to re-iterate none of these are acceptable behaviour and we are intervening where we can and reporting to BuildUK, the Construction Leadership Council and Government directly where behaviours are not conducive to the collective effort that is required not just to cope with this initial period, but also that will effectively undermine the opportunity to ramp construction back up and get Britain Building again as quickly as possible. 

 

All the best,

 

Iain

 

Iain McIlwee
CEO: Finishes and Interiors Sector
M: 07792 959 481  E:
iainmcilwee@thefis.org

 

FIS Webinars

 

3 April 2020 – Midday-1pm: Conflict Resolution and COVID-19
The focus of the webinar will be a discussion of the common sense steps needed to be taken to navigate potential commercial pitfalls associated with delays to construction projects caused by Corvid-19. His advice will focus on record keeping, how to communicate effectively and structure your arguments to elicit collaboration and avoid conflict whilst at the same time protecting your business and people.

 

The webinar will be hosted by: Marc Preston BA(Hons) MRICS MCIOB MBACP, Managing Director of Vertice Development Management

 

8 April 2020 – Midday -1pm: Claiming R&D Tax Credits, a potential lifeline
With the continuing COVID-19 outbreak leaving many businesses in our sector unable to continue working as normal, many are now left counting costs. In a time where cash flow is scarce, I’d like to raise awareness among the membership of the important source of funding available via the government’s R&D tax incentives.

 

We’ve partnered with the UK’s largest R&D tax credit specialists, ForrestBrown, to bring you an important webinar on how you can quickly access this valuable funding.

 

FIS Webinars (listen again)

 

 

For a full list, click here

 

Latest Updates

 

New CLC Site Operating Procedures (v2) now emphatically clarifies that: There will be situations where it is not possible or safe for workers to distance themselves from each other by 2 metres. In these situations, work should not be carried out. 

 

New Guidance for FIS and Cobra Insurance Issues Related to COVID-19

 

CLC letter to PM 01 April 2020:  In response to the letter from Secretary of State Alok Sharma MP, The Construction Leadership Council writes to the Prime Minister to ask him to look again at support for construction businesses and clarity over a Minimum Essential Works list

 

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.

 

If you want to book an FIS Skills Clinic to help you to look at how you can optimise this support, simply email the FIS at info@thefis.org

 

Noble and the economics team at the Construction Products Association have also been producing a regularly updated Covid-19 Market Impact Report and we hope that the detailed insight and scenario planning are of help to all of you trying to navigate the business impact that we are currently experiencing (this was updated yesterday).

 

Template Resources

 

Guidance to issue to self-employed workers on reporting to work, risk mitigation and self-isolation

 

FIS Contractual and Legal Toolkit that includes standard letters to support lay-off, furlough and short-time working here

 

FIS COVID-Risk Management Toolkit

 

COVID-19 – Risk Assessment for Site

 

COVID19 Employee Welfare Policy

 

Guidance on Contractual Issues Caused by Coronavirus

 

CLC Site Operating Procedures

 

CLC Advice note on temporary closure of sites

 

Letter of Authorisation template

 

The FIS Risk Management Tool has been updated to support key Cash Flow Management Guidance.

 

FIS COVID-19 Update – 1 April 2020 pm

 

Dear All

 

Yesterday afternoon we received a letter from Alok Sharma, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy that echoed the message from Grant Shapps MP (reported yesterday).  In his letter he pays tribute to all those who are working tirelessly within the construction industry. Delivering on large or small construction sites across the country, in builders’ merchants and logistics providers, or producing construction and mineral products.  He states “Our country and our economy needs all our support. And the construction industry has answered the call to action.”

 

It reinforces the message that construction should, where possible, continue.  You can read the full letter in the link below.

 

Whilst the letter is welcome, Mr Sharma alludes to, but falls short of actually defining essential works, something we are asking for greater clarity on.  In various calls yesterday we have highlighted the practicalities around continuing to work, particularly in light of inconsistency in the way that Government advice is being interpreted.  Health and safety concerns (and the resulting liabilities) are naturally top of the list of, but availability of material and people as well as travel and shortages of vital PPE remain a challenge.  We also continue to get reports of construction workers being abused for continuing to work and the negative publicity that this creates for the sector is damaging.  It was for me disappointing that Michael Gove MP didn’t re-iterate the words of the Secretary of State in his Daily Briefing yesterday (it only came up in questions later).

 

Other points we have emphasised are that, where construction has been forced to stop, the delays in getting money to the self-employed workers is concerning – we must find quicker ways of releasing vital funds, further clarity in site operating procedures around how the 2m rule can be interpreted are needed, a stop on the unrealistic approach to LADs being applied by some main contractors and clients (noting also the pay less notices that are starting to appear) and Government neds to create pressure on their various departments and other clients/contractors to release retentions.

 

Please continue to feed in your concerns and any good news stories too, it was great to read yesterday how the FIS community rallied to support work on the conversion of the Excel Exhibition centre into the Nightingale Hospital.  We need these stories to counter some of the negative publicity that construction is getting.

 

All the best,

 

Iain

 

Iain McIlwee
CEO: Finishes and Interiors Sector
M: 07792 959 481  E: iainmcilwee@thefis.org

 

FIS Webinars

 

1 April 2020 – 1-2 pm: Employment Law Advisors Citation are hosting a webinar for members specifically on Coronavirus, HR and Employment Law and the Job Retention Scheme.

 

3 April 2020 – Midday-1pm: Conflict Resolution and COVID-19
The focus of the webinar will be a discussion of the common sense steps needed to be taken to navigate potential commercial pitfalls associated with delays to construction projects caused by Corvid-19. His advice will focus on record keeping, how to communicate effectively and structure your arguments to elicit collaboration and avoid conflict whilst at the same time protecting your business and people.

 

The webinar will be hosted by: Marc Preston BA(Hons) MRICS MCIOB MBACP, Managing Director of Vertice Development Management

 

FIS Webinars (listen again)

 

 

For a full list, click here

 

Latest Updates

 

Secretary of State Alok Sharma writes an open letter to the construction industry to thank for our service.

 

To help protect health on construction sites and maintain social distancing during COVID-19, CITB has produced a toolbox talk for construction workers. Topics covered include: travelling to work and what to do if someone thinks they are unwell. More details, including posters for supervisors to display in the workplace, can be found here.

 

CITB focus on cash flow explained in a video, it outlines three steps:

 

  1. levy collection delayed until August (at least)
  2. 20 week claiming rule suspended giving longer time for employers to grant. FIS is offering free skills clinics to help companies review their existing claims to ensure that they are optimising grant claim.   To access email: info@thefis.org
  3. Early payment of apprenticeship grants

 


Trade bodies in Scotland have set up the Construction Industry Coronavirus Forum
 to lead the industry response to the pandemic. The position on construction work in Scotland is not clear, with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon advising that “sites should close unless the building being worked on is essential – such as a hospital” without then specifying what else is considered essential. The Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Economy Fair Work and Culture has written to representatives in the industry, stating: “We are considering whether guidance could be issued to determine if a construction site can be safely operated in line with social distancing”.

 

Right to Work checks have been temporarily adjusted to make it easier for employers to carry them out during the coronavirus outbreak. Until further notice, employers do not need to see original documents and can complete Right to Work checks over video calls.

 

HMRC is running a series of webinars to provide an overview of the support available to help employers and your employees deal with the economic impacts of COVID-19.

 

Noble and the economics team at the Construction Products Association have also been producing a regularly updated Covid-19 Market Impact Report and we hope that the detailed insight and scenario planning are of help to all of you trying to navigate the business impact that we are currently experiencing (this was updated yesterday).

 

Template Resources

 

Guidance to issue to self-employed workers on reporting to work, risk mitigation and self-isolation

 

FIS Contractual and Legal Toolkit that includes standard letters to support lay-off, furlough and short-time working here

 

FIS COVID-Risk Management Toolkit

 

COVID-19 – Risk Assessment for Site

 

COVID19 Employee Welfare Policy

 

Guidance on Contractual Issues Caused by Coronavirus

 

CLC Site Operating Procedures

 

CLC Advice note on temporary closure of sites

 

Letter of Authorisation template

 

The FIS Risk Management Tool has been updated to support key Cash Flow Management Guidance.

 

FIS COVID-19 Update ‐ 31 March 2020

 

Dear All

 

Yesterday we hosted an excellent webinar with Damian James on some of the contractual issues that are emerging in the sector.  You can hear this again.  He re-iterated the basic advice that FIS is provide – do what is right, but do it properly.  In this he highlighted the need to break things down in terms of records, documentations and notices, thinking about what stage you were at, time to consider whether safe working is possible and if it is safe to do so (and you can get material and people) how this will impact speed of work and also finally the impact of scaling up.

 

The Government continue to push the message that if it is safe to do so, work can continue – in an interview this morning Grant Shapps MP, the Transport Secretary, defended the Government’s approach to the lockdown, insisting there was a need for some people to continue travelling to work.

 

“Otherwise, we will be in a position where we can’t re-start the economy and millions of people will be forced into a poverty situation that would do more harm than the virus itself. That’s really the balance.”

 

Vital is that we as a sector protect our people in this and if you cannot adhere to Public Health England Social Distancing Requirements then work should not be taking place.  Where sites need to close, it is vital to do this safely and we have new guidance on this included below.  Please do let us know of issues you are encountering in terms of adhering to this and any residual payment, contractual concerns that you may have.  Also keep us posted on accessing Government Support, we are here to help.

 

Beyond this and our focus on urging Government to get greater clarity on essential works and key worker status for construction, retention release and negative contractual behaviours and looking at how CIS workers can be better supported and crucially too at mechanisms to fast-track any repayment and ensuring that the support mechanisms in place work for our members.

 

If there is any additional support you need or webinars that you need us to cover, please do feed in.

 


All the best,

 

Iain

 

Iain McIlwee
CEO:  Finishes and Interiors Sector
M: 07792 959 481   E: iainmcilwee@thefis.org

 

 

 

FIS Webinars (listen again)

 

 

For a full list, click here

 

Latest Updates

 

Noble and the economics team at the Construction Products Association have also been producing a regularly updated Covid-19 Market Impact Report and we hope that the detailed insight and scenario planning are of help to all of you trying to navigate the business impact that we are currently experiencing.

 

The Construction Leadership Council, working with the Construction Coronavirus Taskforce, has developed new guidance – Advice on temporary suspension of sites – to ensure that any closures can be achieved as safely as possible, avoiding potential issues while the site is not active.  This guidance is available here.  Members who are leaving offices vacant during this time are reminded to consult with their insurers regarding the extent of cover for an unoccupied building.

 

No change for construction on the daily briefing.   The UK’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance says there has been a “dramatic fall-off” in the use of the London Underground, as well as a decrease in the use of buses, national rail, and motor vehicles.  He highlights half of all hospital admissions are in London.

 

Letter of Authorisation template for the use of companies operating as critical workers or in accordance with Public Health England’s Social Distancing Guidance.   Concerns have been that people have been stopped by the police whilst travelling to construction sites.  We have received an update from BEIS as of the 3th March that all chief constables have be sent the pro forma letter and Government policy clarification.

 

The Construction Minister, Nadhim Zahawi finally spoke up in The Telegraph on Sunday: “These businesses need to be defended, because we need to minimise the damage to our economy where possible, and be ready to spring back into action as soon as this lockdown is over. There will always be some work that cannot be done from home, whether it is construction or packing boxes in an Amazon warehouse – but we still need houses built and for deliveries to be made”.   FIS is calling for consistency of message, and is disappointed that this tone is not reflected in the Daily briefings.

 

Coronavirus (COVID-19): an update on the Grenfell Tower site – In response to government advice on the Covid-19 pandemic, the re-wrapping of the Tower has been paused to avoid staff going on-site or using public transport. The re-wrapping progressed well in March, and the remaining ‘older’ wrapping on the lower floors is in good condition. We do not believe pausing the re-wrapping is a cause for concern, but the team is happy to take any questions you might have.

 

The FIS Risk Management Tool has been updated to support key Cash Flow Management Guidance.

HMRC is running a series of webinars to provide an overview of the support available to help employers and your employees deal with the economic impacts of COVID-19.  You can book a spot on one of these here.

 

The Construction Leadership Council welcomes the launch today of the Construction Industry Council Low Value Disputes Model Adjudication Procedure (LVD MAP). This adjudication procedure will help SMEs in the construction industry to resolve disputes simply, quickly and cost-effectively. More here

 


Template Resources

 

Guidance to issue to self-employed workers on reporting to work, risk mitigation and self-isolation

 

FIS Contractual and Legal Toolkit that includes standard letters to support lay-off, furlough and short-time working here

 

FIS COVID-Risk Management Toolkit

 

COVID-19 – Risk Assessment for Site

 

COVID19 Employee Welfare Policy

 

Guidance on Contractual Issues Caused by Coronavirus

 

CLC Site Operating Procedures

 

CLC Advice note on temporary closure of sites

 

FIS COVID-19 Update ‐ 30 March 2020 pm

 

Dear All

 

A quiet weekend in so many ways and the various announcements meant little change for the construction sector with Alok Shah further emphasising that construction should carry on if it is safe to do so.

 

Beyond the safety concerns and despite the promise of sites restructuring, moving to 24 hour shifts etc, the practicality of continuing to build in the face of closures in the manufacturing and distribution section makes this seem increasingly untenable.  We are also aware of a number of members working on sites essential to supporting the infrastructure that is required to support the national COVID-19 response – please do let us know so we are able to help co-ordinate support that you need through our social channels.

 

Sadly amidst this we are seeing construction resort to type and I have seen a variety of legal letters demanding that contractors return to site and asserting that it is safe to do so.  As per the open letter to the Membership from our President Helen Tapper, it is vital that if you deem it unsafe to continue, refer to your contract and ensure that you provide the necessary notifications for delay or suspension – paper trails and communication are critical to protecting your business, but protecting our people is everything.

 

We now have more detail on furlough and additional clarity around the NICS elements, but there remain serious concerns, particularly about the time lag for the self-employed in receiving support as sites inevitably close (details on our updated COVID-19-Hub page).  We are working with members to understand if more can be done in terms of accelerating tax rebates through the CIS or even allowing individuals to secure loans against the anticipated rebate.

 

All the best,

 

Iain

 

Iain McIlwee
CEO:  Finishes and Interiors Sector
M: 07792 959 481   E: iainmcilwee@thefis.org

 

Upcoming Webinars

COVID-19: What to do in suspensions?, Monday 30 March, 2-3pm
With construction projects and disputes facing suspension due to COVID-19 we look at the practical steps to ensure your contractual entailment to time and money.Book here

 

FIS Webinars (listen again)

 

 

For a full list, click here

 

Latest Statement from Build UK – Over the weekend, Alok Sharma, Secretary of State for Business, was questioned on the issue of individuals going to work and not feeling safe to do so. He was very clear that, where work cannot be undertaken from home, people should go to work and employers must follow Public Health England (PHE) guidance. Build UK on behalf of the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) has developed Site Operating Procedures specifically for construction sites to ensure they are compliant. Read the full statement here.

 

Government amends insolvency law to help companies keep trading while they explore options for rescue – Under the plans, the UK’s Insolvency Framework will add new restructuring tools that mirror the USA’s Chapter 11 procedure, a well-established model adopted by countries around the world.  This includes:

 

  • A moratorium for companies giving them breathing space for from creditors enforcing their debts for a period of time whilst they seek a rescue or restructure;

 

  • Protection of their supplies to enable them to continue trading during the moratorium; and;

 

  • A new restructuring plan, binding creditors to that plan.  The proposals will also include key safeguards for creditors and suppliers to ensure they are paid, while existing laws against fraudulent trading and the threat of director disqualification will continue to act as an effective deterrent against reckless misuse of these new measures.

 

The Government will also temporarily suspend the wrongful trading provisions to give company directors greater confidence to use their best endeavours to continue to trade during this pandemic emergency, without the threat of personal liability, should the company ultimately fall into insolvency. More detail here

 

Good uptake for CITB advance apprenticeship attendance grants for second and third year apprentices in advance (full story here). Already over 600 employers apply for this additional support. We would encourage anyone who is eligible to receive this grant to fill in the form here.

 

Guidance for employers on the coronavirus (COVID-19) Job Retention Scheme has now been published. The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is a temporary scheme open to all UK employers for at least three months starting from 1 March 2020. We expect the scheme to be up and running by the end of April. It is designed to support employers whose operations have been severely affected by coronavirus (COVID-19). (see excellent Q&A resource pulled together by FIS Association Citation that gives more insight.)

 

Check your cover if closing your office – For those businesses who have had to close for the foreseeable future – please check your insurance cover. Some policies have specific clauses around vacancies and how many days you are allowed. This is particularly important if you have stock on site. I am aware some businesses have had to make some amendments to their policies to ensure they have sufficient cover.

 

This is included, with other amends in the updated FIS Risk Management Tool

 

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FIS COVID-19 Update ‐ 26 March 2020 pm

 

Dear All,

 

Just wanted to share a few critical bits tonight.  The package of support for the self-employed is welcome, but timescales are a concern.

 

The practicality of carrying on and following Government advice is becoming tougher.  Even if sites are made safe, travel hurdles overcome and work can be managed to adhere to safe distancing, announcements from BG and CCF are going to make it increasingly hard to source material.  We are seeing a number of disputes arise now where the specialist is being pressed to continue despite safety concerns.  The statement from Build UK reinforces the point that no-one should be required to travel or work if the social distancing requirements cannot be met.  This means to me that no-one should be made to fear delay penalties if they are raising genuine safety concerns.  Please do let us know if you find yourself in this position.

 

Finally the levy suspension from CITB is a positive in terms of cash flow.  On this we are preparing a list of key things you need and a few thoughts on stuff that might help as you scale your business back.  This will be fleshed out a bit in our lunchtime webinar tomorrow.

 

All the best,

 

Iain

 

PS:  We have added some new Delay Template letters to our Contractual Legal Toolkit today that may be useful

 

PPS: Unless something major happens, we won’t be doing another newsletter tomorrow, so keep an eye on our social media channels or the latest updates on our COVID-19 hub as we are expecting more details on furlough.

 

PPPS: Through the link above we’ve also created a new Linkedin Group to help connect the industry up to exchange tips and views on events as they unfold.

 

Upcoming Webinars

 

Cash Flow Forecasting, Friday 27 March, Midday – 1pm
With COVID-19 causing businesses in construction to radically scale back and even temporarily close, careful management of cash is going to be critical.  This lunchtime webinar looks at the fundamentals of cash flow forecasting and what you can do to ensure that your business can ride the storm.
Book here

 

COVID-19: What to do in suspensions? Monday 30 March, 2-3pm
With construction projects and disputes facing suspension due to COVID-19 we look at the practical steps to ensure your contractual entailment to time and money.
Book here

 

FIS Webinars (listen again)

 

FIS/Citation Webinar COVID-19 | 2020: A Year of Unprecedented Change(25 March 2020)

 

FIS/ClarksLegal Webinar – COVID-19 and Employment Matters (24 March 2020)

 

Latest updates

 

CITB Suspends Levy – CITB’s board met yesterday (March 25) and gave final approval to suspend the issue of its levy bills, due for payment in 2020, for an initial period of three months.

 

CCF has made the decision to only open 13 branches from  Monday 30 March, these branches will remain open on a reduced delivery only service and will be providing products to key essential projects, critical to the increased needs of the national healthcare efforts.

 

British Gypsum call a halt on Manufacturingwhilst we continue to support NHS and other essential infrastructure, building and maintenance projects in the UK, in balancing the now reduced needs of our valued customers, with the needs of our suppliers and colleagues, we will temporarily cease production in the majority of our UK based manufacturing facilities from tomorrow, Friday 27 March 2020.

 

Build UK Clarify Site Operating Procedures – No‐one will be required to travel or work if the social distancing requirements cannot be met and members will be working closely with their supply chains during this time.

 

New package of support for the self employed announced by the chancellorfurther details available in the relevant section on this page below.

 

Request for Information from FIS – if you are trying to access through your bank a COVID-19 continuity loan, please email janeknight@thefis.org your experience.  Critical information is how accessible, what guarantees are you being asked for, how is it being delivered (as a loan product or overdraft), what are the likely timescales.

 

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FIS COVID-19 Update ‐ 26 March 2020

 

Dear Member

 

I like you have been head down this past week, trying to make sense of all that is befalling us and managing the various conflicting pressures.  Mike and I have been running Tapper Interiors now for 35 years, but this has, without doubt, been the toughest week yet – I am shell shocked.  The lack of clear guidance from Government has added to the pressure as we have desperately tried to follow advice and do the socially responsible thing, but increasingly mindful of the health and welfare of our people and their families.  I think Iain summed it up well in the Telegraph yesterday when he said the ambiguity has made this feel like death by 1,000 cuts for businesses in our sector – that is certainly how I feel.

 

In the last 24 hours many more sites have closed, but not all – there seems to me to be little logic to this.  Where safety concerns have been raised, we have seen instances where clients have reacted by threatening to impose onerous delay clauses.  I know FIS is feeding these concerns directly to Government (please send details in), but increasingly now working with members on individual cases and trying to support dialogue with clients and major contractors.  The message from FIS is clear, if you cannot do it safely, don’t do it.  If the necessary precautions are not being implemented on site, concerns must be raised with client, but ultimately reported to the HSE via their whistle blowing service.

 

If you deem it unsafe to continue, refer to your contract and ensure that you provide the necessary notifications for delay or suspension – paper trails and communication are critical to protecting your business, but protecting our people is everything.  As a Director of Tapper Interiors, my first responsibility is to do what is reasonably practicable to protect the health, safety and welfare of employees (and other people who might be affected by our business).  Get this wrong and beyond the human cost, what are the potential liabilities if we carry on regardless and people do get sick or worse?

 

I didn’t expect this mess when I agreed be FIS President, but I have never been more glad to be an FIS Member or proud of our organisation.  They, guided by the Board and supported by our community have been a vital lifeline, helping to inform the decisions we as a business have had to make and even been that caring and supportive voice at the end of the phone.  Together we are stronger.  Before this situation escalated, a theme of my Presidency was Rebuilding Construction and I want to leave you with some hope.  As a sector we will pull through this and my hope is that it will present us with a new opportunity to rebuild.  I do believe a lack of clarity/understanding of our sector from our Government has intensified things, but we must also look to the contracts and behaviours and accept that the industry cannot and must not be allowed to continue in this way.

 

Stay safe and well, keep those in your care safe and see you on the other side!

 

Helen

 

Helen Tapper
Business Operations Director, Tapper Interiors Limited
FIS President

 

FIS Latest Webinars (listen again)

 

FIS/Citation Webinar COVID-19 | 2020: A Year of Unprecedented Change(25 March 2020)

 

FIS/ClarksLegal Webinar – COVID-19 and Employment Matters (24 March 2020)

 


Upcoming Webinars

 

Cash Flow Forecasting, Friday 27 March, Midday – 1pm
With COVID-19 causing businesses in construction to radically scale back and even temporarily close, careful management of cash is going to be critical.  This lunchtime webinar looks at the fundamentals of cash flow forecasting and what you can do to ensure that your business can ride the storm.

 

Speaker: Rick Payne is a Chartered Accountant who works for the ICAEW (Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales) and focuses on helping members in business. He has recently put together a guide on the financial management implications of the Coronavirus. He normally focuses on longer term strategic issues but has collaborated with members who work on turnarounds and has been talking about the short term issues with experts in the ICAEW network. Rick also has an MSc in Organisational Behaviour and trained as an executive coach and so is well aware of the personal stress that people experience in a crisis.

 

More webinars from FIS

 

  • Our Monday Webinar be on Suspension of Contract.
  • As soon as information on Support for the Self-Employed package is available we will be running something on this (announcement expected today).
  • We are also looking at running one credit control, let us know if there are any other subjects that you would like to cover.

 

Latest updates

 

Request for Information from FIS – if you are trying to access through your bank a COVID-19 continuity loan, please email janeknight@thefis.org your experience.  Critical information is how accessible, what guarantees are you being asked for, how is it being delivered (as a loan product or overdraft), what are the likely timescales.

 

Position Statement from Build UK
“The Government has provided updated guidance on going to work in section 4 of its guidance on Staying at home and away from others (social distancing), and the Prime Minister confirmed yesterday that the modelling of the coronavirus response is based on the fact that a lot of people would still need to go to work.

 

From conversations with many of our members over the last two days, we know the impact of the pandemic is significant across every sector, with businesses of all sizes concerned about cashflow, looking after their workforce, and the contractual implications of sites closing and stopping work.

 

Build UK has worked with Wedlake Bell to produce comprehensive guidance for all parties in the supply chain on contractual issues caused by coronavirus. Under the circumstances, performance of current contracts is likely to become increasingly difficult there may be delays, labour and materials shortages, and increasing costs and the guidance offers practical advice on what to do in each situation”.  Read the full statement from BuildUK here

 

New Guidance from BuildUK on Contractual Issues this comprehensive guidance for has been produced for all parties in the supply chain on contractual issues caused by coronavirus. The guidance offers practical advice on what to do in each situation.

 

Ban on evictions for commercial tenants – Commercial tenants who cannot pay their rent because of coronavirus will be protected from eviction.

 

TfL suspends all road user charging schemes to help critical workers 

 

What to do if you do not feel the conditions you are working in are safe – if any FIS Members are being expected to work in an unsafe way, the HSE operates a whistle blowing service.  Please feed your concerns in to the FIS via iainmcilwee@thefis.org

 

Companies to receive 3-month extension period to file accounts during COVID-19 – From today (26 March 2020), businesses will be able to apply for a 3-month extension for filing their accounts.

 

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.

 

CITB are unable to support Levy and Grant telephone lines, urgent enquiries should be sent by email levy.grant@citb.co.uk.  They are processing grant claims as quickly as possible and urge employers to check their Grant Online accounts for claims which need authorising.

 

BMF clarifies Builders’ Merchants’ role during COVID-19 Restrictions

 

Template Resources

 

 

Guidance on Contractual Issues Caused by Coronavirus – New Guidance on Contractual Issues

 

 

25/03/2020

 

Build UK Coronavirus Update ‐ 25 March 2020

 

We know the industry is looking for clarity on whether construction sites should continue to operate. Whilst the Government is increasing its calls for everyone to stay at home and avoid all non‐essential travel, it is also stating that construction sites can continue to operate. This has left the construction sector caught between the Government’s advice and the overwhelming need to protect its workforce.

 

On a call with the majority of our Contractor members yesterday, Build UK discussed a collective decision for sites to shut. Following that call, a number of members went back to their Boards and have now confirmed that they are closing their sites.

 

Build UK is not a regulatory or enforcement body and neither is the Construction Leadership Council (CLC). We have done our utmost to support members in implementing the Government’s advice on social distancing where they have chosen to keep their sites open. Alongside the CLC, we have also called strongly for Government support for the whole workforce that will be affected by the closure of construction sites.

 

We firmly believe that the industry needs to pull together at this time; we can do nothing about the situation we find ourselves in, but we can do something about how we respond and that will continue to be our focus over the coming days.

 

Read Build UK’s latest statement which sets out the current position on construction sites.

 

FIS Chief Executive Iain McIlwee will be attending a conference call with Build UK and other representative bodies at 11:30am today and will provide further update.

 

Build UK is the representative organisation for the UK construction industry and brings Clients, Main Contractors and Trade Associations, FIS is a member.  Build UK holds a seat on the Construction Leadership Council (Co-Chaired by the Construction Minister).

 

What does this mean for FIS Members?

 

Clearly this latest update leaves ambiguity.  The vital message is that if it is not safe to do so, don’t.  Within minutes of this notification from Build UK, we received a Government update that further guidance has been made available that reinforces construction work is not prohibited and even trades people working in homes can (if following PHE guidelines) continue, so this will remain a company by company decision.

 

If you feel you are being forced to operate in conditions that are unsafe, you can report (with impunity) to the Health and Safety Executive here.  We will continue to put pressure on accelerating support for self-employed and additional support, similar to hospitality, for construction companies.

 

 

25 March 2020

 

Dear All,

 

Following the announcement from the Prime Minister last night, the industry woke up today to unprecedented chaos.

 

The message from Government that we have been asked to pass on is still that construction sites should continue to operate if they can do so in a manner consistent with PHE guidance (see Site Operating Procedures published by the Construction Leadership Council). This advice was reconfirmed in the briefing by Health Secretary, Matt Hancock a little before 5pm today.  The situation has differed around the UK with the First Minister in Scotland advising that sites in the country should close. The full statement from Build UK (aligned with the position of the Construction Leadership Council) is available through latest updates below.

 

It is clear that, in the coming days contractors will continue to be assessing their projects, we know that some have already shut sites and suspect others will follow. Material supply has added to concerns with distribution and manufacturing businesses reporting that they have no option but to pause supply for 24 hours whilst they clarify the situation.  It is our understanding that some will be lifting the 24 hour delay (subject to further Government advice), but we have not had clarification from all.

 

The dilemma this places on business owners is acute, how do we balance social responsibility, with health concerns and the welfare, particularly of our contractors (who do not have support in the form of furlough)?  All of this with looming contractual considerations that clients may not be too inclined to relax.  We recommend that all members look at their risk assessments and review in line with the procedures linked above.  Some of the issues were explored in our lunchtime webinar today with Clarks Legal (accessible via the link here).  We also advise looking to your contingency plans (I will update our COVID-19 Risk Management Tool first thing in the morning and we have included a list of the support mechanisms currently available).

 

We have written to the Construction Minister today outlining our key concerns around clarity and support should sites close and have been feeding information in to BEIS and the Construction Leadership Council.  At the same time we are constantly monitoring the situation and will update as soon as we have new information.  In the meantime I’d like to thank everybody who has fed in their views, called for a chat and taken part in our webinars.  All of this is being absorbed and instructing what we do, please do not hesitate, all of my details are below.

 

All the best,

 

Iain

 

PS:  Alot of info packed in here, so just to flag up we now have a standard furlough letter included in our Employment Toolkit

 


Iain McIlwee
CEO:  Finishes and Interiors Sector

M: 07792 959 481   E: iainmcilwee@thefis.org

 

View today’s webinar with Clarks Legal on employment and contractual matters related to COVID-19 here

 

Citation has organised a Webinar for members of The FIS at 2pm tomorrow, Wed 25 March. Its title being ‘Covid-19, 2020: A year of unprecedented change’

 

The Webinar is scheduled to run for c90 minutes, and will cover HR/Employment Law and Health & Safety matters relating to Covid-19 and The Good Work Plan. A PowerPoint Presentation will be used to outline some key points, with representatives of the Citation Service Team being on the Webinar to answer questions from members that log in.

 

Click here for more details

 


Latest updates

 

Build UK has now published the following statement, which is aligned to the position of the CLC.

 

The message from Government continues to be that construction sites can continue to operate but must implement the Site Operating Procedures, developed by Build UK and published by the Construction Leadership Council (CLC).

 

As discussed with the majority of our Contractor members this morning, this is not an easy time for anyone and those making decisions about whether to keep sites operational know full well that whatever they decide will have an impact on people’s lives and jobs, as well as their own businesses.

 

The CLC has confirmed that all construction sites should assess their situation and those sites that cannot implement the Site Operating Procedures published by the CLC should not remain open.

 

You can read the full statement here

 


Government tells self-employed ‘help is coming’ amid pressure to unveil coronavirus aid package
You can read the House of Commons Public Committee Amendments that starts to set down some of the thinking here.

 

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.

 

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.

 

New guidance for employees, employers and businesses about protection from eviction for commercial tenants and extension of BID arrangements.

 

Reports that there have been several instances today of police officers visiting construction sites and requesting the closure of these.  BEIS have emphasised that this action is “not consistent with the Government guidance, which is clear that construction sites should continue to operate if they can do so in a manner consistent with PHE guidance, recognising that the vast majority of construction work cannot be undertaken from home.  BEIS are working with the IPA and the Home Office to ensure that accurate information is provided to the police, to prevent this from happening in future.”

 

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. There is no maximum cap set for lending supported through the scheme, so there is no immediate need to approach your lender if your business does not need finance at the moment

 

Through Build UK, as part of their response to the Covid-19 pandemic, FIS is asking members to complete this survey on the support that The UK Government has put in place a number of actions to support UK businesses through the Covid-19 pandemic. All individual responses will remain confidential.

 

FIS has written to the Construction Minister, BEIS and the CLC for urgent clarification to be issued following yesterday’s statement by the PM.  Current position from COBR, sites should continue to operate if they can do so in a manner consistent with PHE guidance (see CLC Operating Procedures), recognising that the vast majority of construction work cannot be undertaken from home.

 

Key support available to FIS Members from Government

 

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – all UK employers will be able to access support to continue paying part of their employees’ salary for those employees that would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis.

 

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.

 

Statutory Sick Pay relief package for small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) – Govt is bringing forward legislation to allow small-and medium-sized businesses and employers to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid for sickness absence due to COVID-19.

 

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme offering loans of up to £5 million for SMEs through the British Business Bank – this is a loan Scheme which will support SMEs with access to loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance of up to £5 million and for up to 6 years.

 

The government will also make a Business Interruption Payment to cover the first 12 months of interest payments and any lender-levied fees, so smaller businesses will benefit from no upfront costs and lower initial repayments.

 

The scheme will be delivered through commercial lenders, backed by the government-owned British Business Bank.

 

There are 40 accredited lenders able to offer the scheme, including all the major banks. Click here for accredited lender info

 

Covid-19 Corporate Financing Facility – A new lending facility from the Bank of England to help support liquidity among larger firms, helping them bridge coronavirus disruption to their cash flows through loans – under the new , the Bank of England will buy short term debt from larger companies.

 

This will support companies that have been affected by a short-term funding squeeze, and allow them to finance their short-term liabilities.  It will also support corporate finance markets overall and ease the supply of credit to all firms.

 

The HMRC Time To Pay Scheme – All businesses and self-employed people in financial distress, and with outstanding tax liabilities, may be eligible to receive support with their tax affairs through HMRC’s Time To Pay service.  These arrangements are agreed on a case-by-case basis and are tailored to individual circumstances and liabilities.

 

If you have missed a tax payment or you might miss your next payment due to COVID-19, please call HMRC’s dedicated helpline: 0800 0159 559

 

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.

 

Template Resources

 

 

View today’s webinar with Clarks Legal on employment and contractual matters related to COVID-19 here

 

 

 

 

 

23rd March 2020

 

Dear All,

 

Good morning, I hope you managed to find some time to switch off and relax over the last couple of days.  In terms of how things are changing, the weekend did see, as the number of confirmed cases continues to grow, a renewed emphasis on advice on social distancing, tightening of the isolation advice for the vulnerable and some shop closures.  But fundamentally apart from reinforcing the need for vigilance and care, nothing has significantly changed for the construction sector.

 

For the time being advice is that sites should continue to operate, but taking sensible precautions to help avoid the spread of infection. So for example, segregating shifts, better cleaning of plant and equipment and tools, no unnecessary visitors and delivery drivers to remain in cabs.  Other suggestions that have been sent in include temperatures being checked as people come onto site, requests for face masks to be worn at all times and canteen and changing area closure.  Build UK will be issuing ‘Standard Operating Procedures on protecting the site workforce’ for the entire sector early this week and we’ll be circulating as soon as available.  In the meantime, we have uploaded a Risk Assessment and Policy (courtesy of Citation) onto our website and updated our FIS COVID-19 Risk Assessment Tool.  The main thing is at the moment is to re-enforce the social distancing recommendations.

 

The big expected news today is around the British Business Loans.  The British Business Bank is setting up a wholesale finance package that will be developed into market facing product by the individual lenders and could take the form of loans or possibly even overdraft facilities.  Again we’ll keep a close eye, share what we can, when we can, but if you are talking you your banks, please let us know how you are getting on and early signs of any challenges that may present for our community.  We’ll feed concerns into BEIS (note Stuart Young is our expert on the FIS Lunchtime Webinar today and you can put questions directly to him).  We should also start to get a bit more insight into the employment support packages (we’ve asked ClarksLegal to provide the lunchtime webinar tomorrow to help us interpret this and answer any questions that you may have – you can register here).

 

As ever we’ll do our best to keep you up-to-date and likewise please keep us in the picture with any developments your end.

 

All the very best,

 

Iain

 

Iain McIlwee
CEO:  Finishes and Interiors Sector
M: 07792 959 481
E: iainmcilwee@thefis.org

 

Update Webinar from the Department of Business Energy and Industrial Strategy, Monday 23 March – Midday

 

FIS has been working closely with BEIS who have been a vital lifeline of targeted information and to feed through information on the impacts of Covid19. This includes issues around supply, demand, specific company intelligence and asks of HMG intervention.

 

Stuart Young is leading this engagement for the construction sector and co-ordinating intelligence and feeding it through our formal reporting mechanisms.  He has agreed to join FIS for a lunchtime briefing on Monday at Midday where he will give us a current state of play and attempt to answer any questions and to gather evidence that he can use as part of this.

 

To take part in this live, online discussion, you can register here

 

Our lunchtime webinar on Tuesday (Midday) will be with Clarks Legal on COVID-19 and Employment Matters.  Register your place here.

 

Key updates from the last 48 hours

 

Guidance on critical workers has now been published – Construction workers are not explicitly referenced in the definition, however the document refers to flexibility and FIS has confirmed with BEIS that this will cover construction workers who are doing jobs that are essential to support public services and consequently workers falling in this category will be able to access school places should they not be able to make alternative provision.

 

It is important to note that the definition of critical workers is solely for the purposes of allocating places in schools. Everyone else in the industry can continue to work, subject to following advice re: their health and risks of infection.

 

Further details of support packages available – these have now been updated onto the website, more detail to follow. Critical clarification on the employment support package is that HMRC will reimburse 80% of furloughed workers wage costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month. HMRC are working urgently to set up a system for reimbursement. Existing systems are not set up to facilitate payments to employers.  Our understanding at this stage is that the employer can choose to top up, but is not obliged.

 

Reminder on the rules of social distancing – Government have produced a poster to support companies in communicating the requirements.

 

Temporary relaxation of the enforcement of the EU and GB drivers’ hours rules: all sectors carriage of goods by road

 

Small Business Commissioner Statement #MakePaymentPrompt.  The SBC provides a free service to help with your late and unpaid invoice needs.

 

New Public Procurement Notice advises public sector to look at how supply chain can be supported includes Government Procurers encouraged to pay suppliers even if work is suspended.

 

Covid-19 and Cybercrime – There has been a spike in email scams linked to coronavirus, including fraudulent offers of a vaccine, specific measures that claim to help businesses, or fraudulent claims of available funds or tax breaks. Companies should be aware of this phenomenon and be vigilant online.

 


Useful Resources from around the Sector

 

UK Construction Week are running a series of Wellbeing Webinars – the first is at 3pm today on How to Work From Home and will be delivered by friend of the FIS Sue Butcher click here to access

 

New Public Health Poster to support site safety – developed to support employers in sharing best practice click here to access the poster

 

Law firm Pinsent Masons have published an article on “UK lay-off and short-time working provisions” which may be of interest to members.

 

COVID-19 and the Construction Industry: Tips for Employers (is from US, but some sound basic advice)

 

Template Resources & Link to our Daily Update

 

 

COVID-19 Risk Management Toolkit – COVID-RiskManagementToolkit

 


 

21st March 2020

 

Dear All,

 

Hope keeping safe and well.  Yesterday we had the PM announce the implications on the next stages of the COVID-19 Action Plan.  The main positives for our industry are that public transport and construction sites will remain open for the time being. 

 

Following this 5pm update, the chancellor announced further support measure for business and again there is some good news in here for construction with a cash lifeline in the form of VAT deferrals, improved terms for the Coronavirus Business Interruption loans and support for wages and enhancements for the self-employed who find themselves out of work.  Full details below.

 

I hope you can join us for our lunchtime Webinar on Monday, an update from Stuart Young from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. Stuart will give us a state of play update, deal with any questions we may have as a community and take forward any suggestions for support to the Secretary of State.  So put your thinking cap on, I have assembled a few ideas that have been fed in so far here.  I encourage you to add your thoughts as comments or just drop me an email. 

 

Please keep us in the picture with any developments your end and let us know if there is any additional help you need from us or the FIS community.

 

Keep well and enjoy the weekend.

 

Iain

 

Iain McIlwee

 

CEO:  Finishes and Interiors Sector

 

M: 07792 959 481

 

E: iainmcilwee@thefis.org

 

Update Webinar from the Department of Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), Monday 23rd March – Midday 

 

FIS has been working closely with BEIS who have been a vital lifeline of targeted information and to feed through information on the impacts of COVID-19. This includes issues around supply, demand, specific company intelligence and asks of HMG intervention.

 

Stuart Young is leading this engagement for the construction sector and co-ordinating intelligence and feeding it through our formal reporting mechanisms.  He will update us and it is our chance to update him as a community on what is going on and to feed ideas for practical support that Government can provide.

 

To take part in this live, online discussion, you can register here 

 

Our lunchtime webinar on Tuesday (Midday) will be with Clarks Legal on COVID-19 and Employment Matters.  The link to book should go round in our Monday bulletin.

 

Our aim is to run daily sessions, so if you have any topics that you’d like to suggest or even like to deliver, let us know and we will try to work them into the programme.

 

Key updates from the last 24 hours 

 

Chancellor announces new package of support, three key lifelines for construction 

 

1.  New corona virus job retention scheme.

 

  • Government grant will carry 80% of person’s salary up to £2500 per month
  • Any employer- small or large- will be eligible.
    Back-dated from March 1st.
  • Open for 3 months initially
  • Will be extended for longer if necessary.
  • No limit on the funding available for the scheme
  • Will pay grant to as many jobs as possible.
  • HMRC working at pace and expect first grants to be paid within weeks •
  • Covers everyone on PAYE scheme, Guidance to issued separately, Desire is to cover as many people as possible.  Not limited at all by sector.

 

2. Additional Support for Businesses 

 

  • Corona virus business interruption scheme will now be interest free for 12 months.
  • Those loans will be available starting Monday.
  • Further measures to be announced next week- larger and further cash flow support through cash tax system.
  • Deferring next quarter of VAT payment period (now to end of June). Have until end of Financial Year to pay those bill.

 

3. Additional Support for the Self-Employed

 

  • Increasing Universal Credit (UC) stand-alone allowance for next 12 months by £1000 per year
  • Self employed- suspending the minimum income floor. Self employed can now access in full Univeral Credit (essentially partity with SSP)
  • Next self assessment payments to be deferred to Jan 2021

 

Full text of his speech here

 

Temporary relaxation of the enforcement of the EU and GB drivers’ hours rules: all sectors carriage of goods by road

 

CITB announces apprenticeship support package – message is please please hold onto your apprentices for the moment help is coming

 

New Public Procurement Notice advices public sector to:

 

  1. Urgently review their contract portfolio and inform suppliers who they believe are at  risk that they will continue to be paid as normal (even if service delivery is disrupted or temporarily suspended) until at least the end of June.
  2. Put in place the most appropriate payment measures to support supplier cash flow; this might include a range of approaches such as forward ordering, payment in advance/prepayment, interim payments and payment on order (not receipt).  
  3. If the contract involves payment by results then payment should be on the basis of previous invoices, for example the average monthly payment over the previous three months. 
  4. To qualify, suppliers should agree to act on an open book basis and make cost data available to the contracting authority during this period. They should continue to pay employees and flow down funding to their subcontractors.
  5. Ensure invoices submitted by suppliers are paid immediately on receipt (reconciliation can take place in slower time) in order to maintain cash flow in the supply chain and protect jobs. 

 

We have asked the question as to whether paying any withheld retentions would be possible too.

 

New guidance for UK businesses trading internationally – including how the DIT is looking to help businesses whose supply chain has been affected by coronavirus (COVID-19) find alternative suppliers.

 

Contractual concerns related to COVID-19 – Apologies to anyone who got to this before we realised you were to get 6 mins of me droning on rather than 10 mins of insight from John Bradley of Reynolds Colman Bradley LLP (also on the Board of JCT).  We have made the audio of this (the right bit) available on the FIS COVID-19 Hub here (in the Contractual Advice section)

 

Template Resources developed by the FIS

 

 

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20th March 2020

 

Dear All,

 

I hope you are keeping well in every sense.  Apologies for delay this morning, but we wanted to confirm details of the webinar below.

 

Yesterday we got a bit more information on how businesses can access some of the support measures available from Government, more below, but the main clarification was around the Coronavirus Business Interruption loans.  These will be available through all major banks and this should be your first port of call.  At this stage we are not sure what information you will need to provide, but if you are struggling to find information on the market, give me a shout.  I have also included a link to the CPA’s impact report that was updated yesterday.

 

Yesterday we had an excellent update on the contractual implications of COVID-19 from John Bradley of Reynolds Colman Bradley LLP (also on the Board of JCT).  We have made the audio of this available on the FIS COVID-19 Hub here (in the Contractual Advice section).  We are working to pull together some more vital update webinars next week (starting Monday with an update from BEIS – see below).

 

The big expected news today is an announcement on additional protections for jobs and wages.  This could be providing a percentage of workers’ pay back from the state, with sick pay extended to parents and carers impacted by school closures, but, as with much news at the moment, the fact that there is an announcement is the only thing we know for definite.  We continue to keep an open dialogue with the Civil Service and are feeding your views in and they continue to reassure us that the priority is to keep sites open and that so far.  All the major Government construction procurers are committed to trying to keep sites operational where possible and no one (public sector) has closed anything.  You will have a chance on Monday to raise any questions with Stuart directly.

 

As ever we’ll do our best to keep you up-to-date and likewise please keep us in the picture with any developments your end.

 

All the very best,

 

Iain

 

PS I have had a number of requests to develop an outline action plan based on scenarios.  If you have something that you are working to already and are happy for me to absorb and use to help in this, I’d be really grateful.  Even if a photo of the back of a fag packet, all ideas appreciated.  Just ping them to iainmcilwee@thefis.org

 

Update Webinar:  Stuart Young from the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) will be joining us Monday 23 March at midday

 

FIS has been working closely with BEIS who have been a vital lifeline of targeted information and been a conduit for us to feed information through to Government on the impacts of COVID-19. This includes issues around supply, demand, specific company intelligence and asks of Her Majesties Government (HMG) intervention.

 

Stuart Young is leading this engagement for the construction sector and co-ordinating intelligence and feeding it through our formal reporting mechanisms.  He has agreed to join FIS for a lunchtime briefing on Monday at Midday where he will give us a current state of play and attempt to answer any questions and to gather evidence that he can use as part of this.

 

To take part in this live, online discussion, you can register here.

 

Key updates from the last 24 hours

 

Advice on how to access evidence for work absence has now been included in Guidance for employees, employers and businesses, details here and on online isolation note on providing proof of coronavirus absence from work that can be accessed here.

 

Fresh concerns over the return of plasterboard allocation following announcement from BG – more information here

 

New advice from HM Treasury on to access financial support from the Government if you or your business has been affected by COVID-19, this covers SSP (including self-isolation), Universal Credit, mortgage repayment, loans and the new temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, more details here

 

Potential COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Economic and Construction Impacts report from the Construction Products Association, available to download here

 

CITB Revise Support to Employers to ease cash flow the 20 week grant claim processing rule is frozen, CITB is urging 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.  FIS can offer free virtual skills clinics to help you to optimise your returns. To book your slot, email info@thefis.org

 

New Public Procurement Notice Procurement Policy Note (PPN) sets out information and associated guidance on the public procurement regulations and responding to the current coronavirus, of particular interest is the final section on Extending or modifying a contract during its term, which gives some specific advice on documentation to support variation. The full note is available here.

 

Health and Safety test centre from Friday 20 March 2020 are temporarily closed but working on alternative ways to test.  CITB has asked 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.  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.

 

Guidance from Midas sets the right tone and underpins the position of the Construction Leadership Council, the construction industry is resilient and do all we can to keep sites open.  Read the statement here

 

New Public Health Poster to support site safety – developed to support employers in sharing best practice click here to access the poster

 

Useful Resources from around the Sector

 

Impact of Covid-19 on Construction Contracts – the steps you can take to mitigate the risks useful advice from Clarks Legal

 

Don’t forget to support your own workforce, who may also be feeling concerned at this time. The Construction Industry Helpline provides emotional and financial support to the construction community and their families and is available on 0345 605 1956.

 

Coronavirus: UK health and safety obligations a useful reminder from Pinsent Mason on the need to do specific risk assessments related to Coronavirus (note there is a Coronavirus Risk Assessment in our H&S Toolkit here, thanks to FIS Vice President Richard Jones of Paramount for helping us put this together)

 

Top tips on how to maintain the wellbeing of your employees while they work from home

 

Template Resources and Link to our Daily Update

 

 

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Iain McIlwee – Chief Executive

 

FIS, Olton Bridge, 245 Warwick Road, Solihull, West Midlands B92 7AH, +44 (0)121 707 0077

 

M: 07792 959481
iainmcilwee@thefis.org
www.thefis.org  @fisorg

 

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19th March 2020

 

Dear All,

 

After the big announcement yesterday was the closure of schools on Friday (Monday in Northern Ireland) for all but the children of non-essential workers, we are still trying to press Government to do all that is necessary to keep sites open and construction working.  The industry is speaking as one on this through the Construction Leadership Council and the Projects and Infrastructure Authority.  We are also, following concerns raised about ability of larger construction firms to claim loans announced yesterday based on the credit requirements, working to ensure that the loans available through the British Business Bank for smaller businesses include the flexibility we need for them to be a viable lifeline.  Beyond monitoring and gathering information we have reached out to suppliers to understand what plans they are developing to support their supply chain, dealing with questions coming in from members and developing our resources to support you.  We are funnelling all this information through our web page and keeping the FIS COVID-19 Risk Management Tool up-to-date. To save you trawling around for information we will look to keep our website page here up-to-date, avoiding speculation and sticking to the validated facts as it impacts our community.  As it stands, as a sector we need to be prepared to continue working, but also start to plan for an eventuality when this may not be possible.

 

We will keep our ear close to the ground and to this end our team are actively calling members, but in the meantime do please feed in any information on site closures or challenges you are facing (also any good news or supportive initiatives) and we will look to reflect this in our dealings with Government and in develop the resources and guidance our community needs.

 

Key updates from the last 24 hours

 

  • The Construction Leadership Council (FIS are members through BuildUK and CPA) are working with the Secretary of State, setting out the support required for the construction sector.  The CLC is also working to develop cross‐industry Standard Operating Procedures that will meet the requirement to avoid social contact while protecting the workforce as much as possible. We anticipate that it will be relevant to sites of all sizes and include guidance on welfare facilities, canteens, entry procedures, and cleaning arrangements.
  • Business rates: expanded retail discount – guidance.  On closer inspection, there may be some opportunity for members with “showrooms” to benefit as the definition includes Furnishing shops/ display rooms (such as: carpet shops, double glazing, garage doors) we are seeking clarity, but in the meantime more advice here
  • FIS updates guidance and provides template resources on home working (thanks to Mansell Finishes for sharing) and on Lay-off procedures, Short-time working and Redundancy (courtesy of Citation) – more here
  • CITB are developing training materials to keep sites working, moving to electronic apprentice reviews, extending support for CITB Approved training providers, urging site managers to show appropriate leniency on renewals, has waived fees for rescheduling or cancelling tests and agreed to accept Site Managers (SMSTS) and Site Supervisors Safety Training Schemes (SSSTS) renewals beyond expiry.  For more information click here
  • CSCS are asking Industry to support temporary Measures.  Currently it remains possible to book the CITB HS&E test Pearson’s Health and Safety test Centres, capacity reduced by 50% to allow for additional spacing between candidates.  Card renewal grace period extended from six months to 12 months.  For more information click here.

 

Blog

 

COVID-19 The vaccine that is needed to save construction firms, FIS CEO Iain McIlwee looks at planning for worst case scenario and explores measures people would like to see implemented to save construction companies.

 

FIS Resources

 

  • Our Drylining and SFS Meeting is taking place online today at 1pm.  It will open with a short discussion on COVID-19 and will be joined by John Bradley of Reynolds Colman Bradley LLP (John is also on the board of JCT) who will support discussions around unreasonable contractual clauses and will be available to cover any questions that you have related to the current events and contractual implications.
  • FIS has updated our Employment Toolkit to provide updated advice on Home Working, Lay-off and Short-time working and Redundancy
  • FIS COVID-19 Risk Management Toolkit – a dedicated resource to support contingency planning
  • Correspondence to support communication with LOSCs covering welfare and hygiene advice, reaction to symptoms and information on how to claim Universal Credit if they are not able to report to site.
  • All of the FIS Helplines remain open and cover taxation, contractual and employment matters as well as technical issues – 0121 707 0077
  • FIS is looking to develop a series of lunchtime webinars to support members through this period, details will be available by the end of the week.  Please let us know if there are any particular subjects that you would like us to address or indeed any subjects that you want covered (it is great to share expertise within the community).  Suggestions to iainmcilwee@thefis.org
  • Have you considered reclaiming R&D Tax Credits? They are provide a vital injection of cash for many members.

 

Free Business-Support Resources from around the FIS Community

 

Crisis Communications

 

 

Managing Remote Work

 

 

Thanks to www.findcourses.co.uk for sending these in, it helps us all when the community shares in this way.

 

Site Welfare

 

FIS Associate Citation have produced a free hand hygiene training video that you can access here

 

As ever I am on email or at the end of phone to help.

 

Keep well,

 

Iain

 

Iain McIlwee – CEO
T: 07792 959 481
E: iainmcilwee@thefis.org

 

 

 

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18th March 2020

 

Dear All,

 

At FIS we continue to monitor the current situation and are in constant dialogue with members, the Civil Service and colleagues in the trade association world to try to ensure that we are keeping advice, timely, accurate, concise and thorough.  We are aware that a number of sites have closed although for most of the larger sites closures we have been informed of seem to be temporary (see advice below).  We are also hearing reports of a number of smaller sites closing or orders being cancelled/postponed.  All of this information is being fed in to the Department of Business Energy and Industrial Strategy.  They support our aim and advice remains that construction sites across the UK should remain open, as long as they are able to do so responsibly (see below on protocol if there is a suspected case on site).  Additionally the Construction Leadership Council (of which we are members through both Build UK and the Construction Products Association) have written to the Prime Minister to further underpin the importance of this to support the survival of businesses in the construction sector.

 

Feedback from members on support from banks is largely positive and early engagement is encouraging.  Clearly these are difficult times, but there is support out there.  We will continue to do all we can to support the wider sector and below have included some information that we hope will be useful to you.

 

Chancellor announces More Support for Business

 

Extending announcements in last week’s Budget (see below), the Chancellor today announced he would take further action including the following elements that will support Construction businesses:

 

  • support for liquidity amongst large firms, with a major new scheme being launched by the Bank of England to help them bridge Coronavirus disruption to their cash flows through loans
  • increasing the amount businesses can borrow through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme from £1.2 million to £5 million, and ensuring businesses can access the first 6 months of that finance interest free, as Government will cover the first 6 months of interest payments
  • including new legal powers in the Covid Bill enabling us to offer whatever further financial support we think necessary to businesses

 

He also confirmed Mortgage lenders have agreed they will support customers that are experiencing issues with their finances as a result of Covid-19, including through payment holidays of up to 3 months. This will give people the necessary time to recover and ensure they do not have to pay a penny towards their mortgage in the interim. Finally he confirmed that implementation of ir35 reforms would be delayed for 12 months.  Full details are available here.  We have also been reviewing support packages around the world and feeding in ideas from members that might help these include clearer rules around SSP and lay-off policies standardising requirements, clarity around force majeure should it become necessary to close sites and extending tax breaks to construction businesses.

 

Keeping Sites Open
The Construction Leadership Council with the support of the Construction Products Association and Build UK have written to the Prime Minister to affirm that it is vital that our construction sites are able to remain open. Read the full letter here.  Guidance remains that should someone become unwell with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature in the business or workplace they should be sent home and advised to follow the stay at home guidance.  If a member of staff has helped someone who was taken unwell with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature, they do not need to go home unless they develop symptoms themselves. They should wash their hands thoroughly for 20 seconds after any contact with someone who is unwell with symptoms consistent with coronavirus infection.  It is not necessary to close the business or workplace or send any staff home, unless government policy changes.  More information available here.

 

CITB has confirmed a range of measures to reassure employers, including:

 

  • A comprehensive plan to support apprentices in the industry is being developed, with companies encouraged to continue employing any apprentices in the meantime. Information will be available shortly.
  • Existing bookings of the Health, Safety and Environment Test can be rescheduled or cancelled at no cost.
  • The introduction of a grace period for the renewal of SMSTS and SSSTS certificates for those unable to complete the refresher course before the expiry of their certificate.
  • A relaxation of the rules and sanctions that apply to Approved Training Organsiations in relation to the uploading of information, course completions and certificates on the Training Directory.

 

Foreign Secretary advises against all non-essential overseas travel.

 

British people who decide that they still need to travel abroad should be fully aware of the increased risks of doing so. That includes the risk that they may not be able to get home, if travel restrictions are put in place. Anyone still considering travel to be realistic about the level of disruption they are willing and able to endure, and to make decisions in light of the unprecedented conditions we face. More here.

 

FIS Resources

 

  • Our Drylining and SFS Meeting that is taking place online tomorrow will open with a short discussion on COVID-19 and we have asked John Bradley of Reynolds Colman Bradley LLP who was due to support discussions around unreasonable contractual clauses.  He will run through his presentation, but w we have also asked him to be available to cover any questions that you have related to the current events and contractual implications.
  • FIS COVID-19 Risk Management Toolkit updated to include latest advice on what to do if there is a suspected case on site, site cleaning, lay-off policies and communicating with your team.  It has also, based on feedback, been simplified further Click here to access the Toolkit
  • FIS develops new template correspondence to support communication with LOSCs covering welfare and hygiene advice, reaction to symptoms and information on how to claim Universal Credit if they are not able to report to site.  This resource can be downloaded here.

 

All the best,

 

Iain

 

Iain McIlwee – CEO

 

COVID-19 – Based on regular briefings we are getting from the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), FIS has developed targeted guidance for members. We will keep this up-to-date here.

 

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