The latest government advice on the coronavirus (COVID-19) and updates from the construction industry.
The official line from the government as of this moment appears to be that construction (and manufacturing) should continue – because these are jobs that cannot be undertaken from home, as per Robert Jenrick’s message last night.
There is, however, a lack of clarity on this which urgently requires to be resolved today.There is a briefing with the BEIS Secretary of State late this afternoon at which we are hoping to get more clarity.
The CLC view is that work should only continue if:
it can be carried out under the guidance issued by Public Health England;
it can be undertaken without any compromising on safety and health;
in accordance with the Site Operating Procedure published earlier today;
and workers can travel safely and responsibly to sites.
CLC publishes Site Operating Procedures
Andy Mitchell, Chair of the Government’s Construction Leadership Council and Construction Industry Taskforce, has put out a statement and document for construction sites of any size operating during the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure that they are protecting their workforce and minimising the risk of spread of infection.
To read the Site Operating Procedures, please click here.
Joint letter from RIBA, RICS and RTPI to Prime Minister
On Friday, the Chief Executives of RIBA and RTPI and the Managing Director of RICS wrote to Boris Johnson in order to both offer their ‘help in this time of national emergency and seek Government support for the UK’s construction and infrastructure sectors which are worth over £100 billion to the UK economy’.
Last week, RIBA CEO Alan Vallance wrote to the Chancellor to set out urgent measures required to support architects over the coming weeks and months. The letter asks the Government to deliver in three main areas:
preserving cash flow
maintaining the operation of the planning and development control systems
ensuring that construction projects continue in a safe way
The COVID-19 section on the CIAT website is now live for members and guests. This page will be updated regularly with information and resources as they receive them. The link is https://ciat.org.uk/covid-19.html
CITB update on Apprenticeships
The CITB is helping SMEs with the funding of apprenticeships by bringing forward payment of some apprenticeship grants. Details will be announced shortly. In the meantime CITB urges all employers not to dismiss any apprentices without first speaking to its Apprenticeship team: Employer.ApprenticeshipQueries@citb.co.uk Apprenticeship Officers will continue to be employers’ point of contact. A letter was sent to all apprentices on 19 March advising them that their Apprenticeship Officer will be in touch. Apprentice reviews and engagement will be delivered via phone or Skype.
CITB is working with Education and Skills Funding Agency to discuss the existing funding rules around breaks in learning for apprentices. Additionally we are working with IfATE to look at the impact that the Apprenticeships Frameworks switch off on July 31st 2020 will have, in light of the inevitable delays to achievement. We will keep you updated on the outcomes of those discussions.
Procurement Policy Note – Supplier relief due to COVID-19
This Procurement Policy Note (PPN) sets out information and guidance for public bodies on payment of their suppliers to ensure service continuity during and after the current coronavirus, COVID-19, outbreak. Contracting authorities must act now to ensure suppliers at risk are in position to resume normal contract delivery once the outbreak is over.
Under the 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. Employers will need to:
Designate affected employees as ‘furloughed workers,’ and notify employees of this change. Changing the status of employees remains subject to existing employment law and, depending on the employment contract, may be subject to negotiation; and
Submit information to HMRC about the employees that have been furloughed and their earnings through a new online portal. HMRC will set out further details on the information required.
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. If your business needs short term cash flow support, you may be eligible for a Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan.
Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme
The new Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme supports SMEs with access to working capital (including loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance) of up to £5 million in value and for up to 6 years. The scheme is now open for applications. To apply, you should talk to your bank or one of the 40 accredited finance providers (not the British Business Bank) as soon as possible, to discuss your business plan. You can find out the latest on the best ways to contact them via their websites. The full rules of the scheme and the list of accredited lenders are available on the British Business Bank website.
Deferring Value Added Tax (VAT) payments for 3 months
The deferral will apply from today until the end of June. This is an automatic offer with no applications required. Businesses will not need to make a VAT payment during this period. Taxpayers will be given until the end of the 2020-21 tax year to pay any liabilities that have accumulated during the deferral period. VAT refunds and reclaims will be paid by the government as normal.
Income Tax payments due in July 2020 under the Self Assessment system will be deferred to January 2021
Income Tax Self-Assessment payments due on the 31 July 2020 will be deferred until the 31 January 2021. This is an automatic offer with no applications required. No penalties or interest for late payment will be charged in the deferral period.
HMRC Time To Pay
HMRC have also scaled up their Time to Pay offer to all firms and individuals who are in temporary financial distress as a result of Covid-19 and have outstanding tax liabilities. You can contact HMRC’s dedicated Covid-19 helpline to get practical help and advice. This can be reached by calling 0800 0159 559
BEIS’ Request for Business Intelligence
The Government is closely monitoring developments in relation to potential economic impacts on the UK economy and individual businesses and supply chain. We welcome information from businesses on:
The impacts across supply, demand and labour markets
Actions being taken by firms to address these impacts
Any gaps in the Government response from your perspective
We are aware that individual company information may be commercially sensitive, and it will be treated accordingly. Please note that this inbox is only for receiving intelligence only and does not provide business advice.
All the information on government advice and support relating to COVID-19 for businesses can be found here.
Production and supply of ventilator components
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is looking for organisations who can support in the supply of ventilators and ventilator components across the United Kingdom as part of the government’s response to COVID-19. If your business can help with the Prime Minister’s call for ventilator production, please visit https://ventilator.herokuapp.com to register your details.
COVID-19 Construction Industry Taskforce
An industry Task Force has been set up to work with BEIS and Government ‘to protect the current and future of the construction industry.’
Any members or recipients with information, data and/or ideas that may be helpful to the work of this task force please contact the Chief Executive on firstname.lastname@example.org.