Build UK is the leading representative organisation for the UK construction industry. By bringing together Clients, Main Contractors, Trade Associations representing over 11,500 Specialist Contractors and other organisations committed to industry collaboration, Build UK represents in excess of 40% of UK construction.
Their regular updates contain important information for our industry.
Last Updated: 20/01/2022
|Changes to COVID‐19 Restrictions|
The Prime Minister has confirmed that the COVID‐19 ‘Plan B’ restrictions in England will end next Wednesday 26 January, with the guidance to work from home withdrawn with immediate effect. The COVID Pass will no longer be required to enter certain venues and face coverings will not be mandatory in any setting although people will still be advised to wear them in crowded and enclosed spaces where they come into contact with others they do not normally meet. Build UK will be reviewing the Site Operating Procedures and the Use of Face Coverings in Construction to provide the most up to date guidance for sites.
The legal requirement to self‐isolate after testing positive for COVID‐19 will remain in place. However, an individual may now stop self‐isolating if they take a lateral flow test from day 5 onwards and another one at least 24 hours later, and both results are negative and they do not have a high temperature. The Build UK COVID‐19 flowchart continues to be updated in line with the latest rules.
In Scotland, the restrictions introduced in response to Omicron will be lifted from 24 January. However, individuals should continue to work from home wherever possible and face coverings will remain mandatory in certain settings.
Support ‘Get Boosted Now’ Campaign
In light of recent figures from ONS on vaccine rates, Construction Minister Lee Rowley is urging construction workers to get their COVID‐19 booster. The Government has published a free employer toolkit containing a range of resources, such as briefing sheets, animations and posters, which can be used to increase awareness within the workplace and provide workers with access to reliable and accurate information on vaccines. Employers are also being asked to be as flexible as possible when it comes to workers getting their jabs, which could include giving paid time off work to attend vaccination appointments.
We are aware that businesses may be considering a vaccination policy, and Build UK partner Citation has updated its guidance for employers to cover the potential use of theNHS COVID Pass for accessing sites, which is generally not advisable. Citation is also hosting a free webinar for Build UK members next Thursday 27 January from 10:00am ‐ 11:00am to discuss and take questions on vaccination and testing of employees.
Building Safety Update
The Government has withdrawn its Consolidated Advice Note providing guidance on how to assess and make buildings safe following the Grenfell Tower fire, as it was being wrongly interpreted and used to justify disproportionate assessments of external walls. Where a detailed assessment of external walls is necessary, it should now be carried out in accordance with the newly published PAS 9980, which provides updated guidance on assessing the risk of fire via an external wall of an existing multi‐storey, multi‐occupied residential building, as well as mitigation steps that might improve the risk rating of a building.
All the latest building safety news can be found in Build UK’s Grenfell update.
The CLC Product Availability Group has issued its latest statement, confirming that ‘there are relatively good stocks and availability of many products, including timber where prices have also fallen from their peak’. However, supply challenges continue to affect bricks and blocks, roof tiles, steel lintels, and coatings and paints.
As employers continue to get to grips with the Points‐Based Immigration System following its introduction last year, Build UK has published a flowchart providing an overview of the process of employing a foreign worker, along with detailed guidance on How to Get a Sponsor Licence and How to Apply for a Skilled Worker Visa.
National Apprenticeship Week ‐ Get Involved!
National Apprenticeship Week 2022 will run from Monday 7 ‐ Sunday 13 February to shine a light on the positive impact that apprenticeships have on individuals, businesses and the wider economy. Build UK is encouraging all members to get involved and there are a number of simple things you can do: Celebrate your apprentices ‐ Put your apprentices front and centre of your business and on social media using the hashtag #NAW2022 Use your Apprenticeship Levy ‐ Make sure you are using your Apprenticeship Levy to support your own apprentices or pledging it to other employers in your supply chain via the Apprenticeship Levy Transfer to help them deliver their apprenticeships Promote your apprenticeship vacancies ‐ Ensure all your apprenticeship opportunities are registered on Talentview Construction to make it easier for young people to join our industry. All apprenticeship vacancies registered via the Government’s Recruit an Apprentice Service are automatically registered on Talentview.
Last Updated: 13/01/2022
|Government Overhauls Approach to Building Safety|
Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, has sent an open letter to the residential property developer industry, warning that it will have to pay towards the cost of remediating unsafe cladding as part of an overhaul of the Government’s approach to building safety. Offering a ‘window of opportunity’ for the industry to ‘agree a settlement that will…ensure the industry that caused the problem pays to fix it’, Gove outlines three commitments required from the industry:
1. Making financial contributions to a dedicated fund to cover the full outstanding cost to remediate unsafe cladding on 11‐18m buildings
2. Funding and undertaking all necessary remediation of buildings over 11m that they have played a role in developing
3. Providing comprehensive information on all buildings over 11m which have historic fire‐safety defects that they have played a part in constructing in the last 30 years.
Discussions will be conducted through a roundtable of 20 of the largest housebuilders and developer trade bodies, with a public commitment to a ‘clear, fully‐funded plan of action’ expected by early March. It is understood that firms with annual profits from housebuilding of £10 million or more will fall within the scope of the fund. Failure by the industry to enter discussions may restrict access to Government funding, result in legal action or lead to prohibitive legislation for developers.
Build UK Chief Executive Suzannah Nichol met with Construction Minister Lee Rowley last week to confirm the steps that members and the wider industry are taking to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID‐19 on site. This includes republishing the CLC Site Operating Procedures to provide up to date guidance for sites in response to the Omicron variant. The Site Operating Procedures ‐ Version 9 incorporates the following key changes:
1. A revised introduction to recognise that working with COVID‐19 is now ‘business as usual’ for the industry
2. Appropriate language to reflect the current situation on site, for example ‘managing’ rather than ‘restricting’ numbers of workers
3. Removing out of date references to when to go to work, shielding etc.
The Build UK COVID‐19 flowchart also continues to be updated in line with the latest rules on self‐isolation. Anyone who is asymptomatic and receives a positive lateral flow test in England is now no longer required to take a PCR test.
Please note that you may need to refresh your browser cache in order to view the latest versions of the guidance by pressing Ctrl+Shift+R (Windows) or Cmd+Shift+R (Mac).
Build UK Appoints New Chair
Thank you to all those members that attended the general meeting earlier this week where Paul Cossell, Vice Chair of ISG, was elected as the new Build UK Chair. Paul has served as a Director on the Board since September 2020 and replaces Andy Steele, who stepped down in November 2021. Commenting on his appointment, Paul said:
“It is a privilege to be the new Chair of Build UK. I believe passionately in the value of a powerful voice representing our industry at the highest levels. Throughout the pandemic, as we tackle the multi‐generational challenge of building greener, better and faster and the associated need to attract the brightest and best talent into our industry, Build UK has proved to be a dynamic force for transformational change.”
Following the general meeting, Peter Baker, Chief Inspector of Buildings, presented plans for the new Building Safety Regulator, which will oversee the new regulatory regime for high-rise buildings, as well as the competence and safety of all buildings. With the Building Safety Bill expected to receive Royal Assent in the spring, Peter highlighted the rapid pace of change and the need for duty holders to understand their responsibilities.
Construction Activity Hit by Omicron
The latest information from Builders’ Conference shows that there were 321 contracts worth £4.4 billion awarded in December. The combination of the Christmas break and the move to ‘Plan B’ restrictions in response to the Omicron variant meant that the number of contracts fell to its lowest level for four years, and the industry will be hoping that the Prime Minister is right and the country can ‘ride out this Omicron wave’ over the next few weeks. 79% of all the contracts awarded by value were in the private sector. There were 101 housing projects worth £1.6 billion (36%), 42 office projects totalling £664 million (15%), and 49 education projects worth £574 million (13%).
The number of tender opportunities was down 23% on the previous month and remained 54% below the monthly average for the past year.
Get Boosted Now
The Government is urging everyone to get vaccinated as it is ‘our best line of defence’ against COVID‐19. Figures from ONS on vaccine rates by sector show that more construction workers need to get their booster and an employer toolkit is available to encourage employees to get vaccinated.
PI Insurance Guide
With businesses in the construction industry continuing to find it extremely difficult to secure Professional Indemnity (PI) insurance, Build UK has published a comprehensive guide to PI insurance which includes an overview of what it is, why it is needed, and how it can be obtained in the current market.
PPE Regulations to be Extended to All Workers
Following a consultation last year, the HSE has confirmed that the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations will be amended early this year to ensure that agency and temporary workers ‐ so called limb (b) workers ‐ are provided with the same PPE protections as employees. Organisations will have to provide all workers with the correct PPE necessary for health and safety free of charge, as well as maintain and replace it as necessary. To prepare for this significant change, organisations should confirm the number of limb (b) workers they have and that they have sufficient PPE.
COVID‐19 ‘Plan B’ Restrictions to Continue
The Prime Minister has confirmed that the current COVID‐19 restrictions will remain in place to give us the ‘chance to ride out this Omicron wave without shutting down our country again’. It continues to be a legal requirement in England to wear a face covering in most public indoor venues, except hospitality, and individuals should work from home where it is possible to do so. Minimising the spread of the virus, which will help to keep construction sites open and safe, is key for the industry, and the CLC is reviewing the Site Operating Procedures to ensure they reflect the current situation.
The Government is regularly updating the COVID‐19 self‐isolation rules. An individual who has tested positive in England may now stop self‐isolating if they take a lateral flow test from day 6 onwards and another one at least 24 hours later, and both results are negative and they do not have a high temperature. From next Tuesday 11 January, anyone who is asymptomatic will no longer require a confirmatory PCR test following a positive lateral flow test. The Build UK COVID‐19 flowchart continues to be updated in line with the latest rules and please note that different rules apply in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Guidance on COVID‐19 Vaccination
With high infection rates across the UK, businesses may be considering a vaccination policy and the potential use of the NHS COVID Pass for accessing sites. However, Build UK partner Citation, which has produced guidance on vaccination for employers, has confirmed that this is generally not advisable on the basis that introducing a requirement for a COVID Pass to access a place of work would require a change to employees’ terms and conditions, which would call into question whether it is a ‘reasonable’ requirement. Citation also highlights that the recent rules regarding COVID Passes for certain venues do not apply to employees working within those venues and to justify a policy of mandatory vaccination a business would have to show that its risk assessment has identified this as a necessary control which would be extremely difficult to do.
Citation will be hosting a free webinar for Build UK members on Thursday 27 January from 10:00am ‐ 11:00am to discuss and take questions on vaccination and testing of employees.
Framework ‘Gold Standard’ Published
The Cabinet Office has published the independent review of public sector frameworks undertaken by Professor David Mosey, which sets out 24 recommendations for a new ‘Gold Standard’ designed to ‘improve the outcomes delivered by framework strategies procurement, contracting and management and to avoid the pitfalls of bureaucratic and inconsistent practices’. By helping clients and suppliers to create and implement Gold Standard action plans under current frameworks, it is hoped that Government and industry can achieve the objectives of the Construction Playbook to deliver projects ‘faster, better and greener’.
Recommendation 20 promotes the use of the Common Assessment Standard to ‘reduce procurement costs by consistent and proportionate assessment of [suppliers’] economic and financial standing’. The Common Assessment Standard is being rolled out across the industry with a growing list of organisations using it for their PQ requirements, and members of the supply chain can obtain certification from any one of three Recognised Assessment Bodies ‐ Achilles, CHAS or Constructionline.
Government Payment Requirements
The prompt payment threshold for suppliers bidding for Government contracts above £5 million per annum will be increased again from 1 April. In accordance with updated Procurement Policy Note (PPN) 08/21, suppliers will be required to show that they pay 90% of invoices within 60 days and have an action plan in place to achieve the required standard of 95% in future, otherwise they risk being prevented from bidding. Currently a company can still pass if they pay 85% of invoices within 60 days and submit an action plan, and the Cabinet Office is continuing to take a phased approach with the threshold being “ratcheted up over time until it reaches 95%”.
COVID‐19 & Contracts
With COVID‐19 continuing to have an impact on projects across the UK, Build UK has updated its guidance on Managing COVID‐19 within Contracts. It offers practical advice on dealing with the effects of COVID‐19 within existing and future contracts in a collaborative, fair and cost‐effective manner.
A huge thank you to all those members that have already paid their Build UK membership subscription for 2022. Your prompt payment enables us to focus on keeping sites open through the latest COVID‐19 restrictions, as well as delivering projects that will help to transform the industry.
The CLC Product Availability Group issued its latest statement just before Christmas, predicting ‘the return of pressure on supply chains to deliver products as construction activity remains strong [this] year, with longer lead times and further price increases anticipated’, particularly for bricks, blocks, roof tiles and timber.
Net Zero Champions
Businesses across the industry are being encouraged to register as ‘Business Champions’ as part of the CLC’s CO2nstruct Zero programme to drive carbon out of the sector. Build UK members can align their own commitments to one or more of nine priorities and the next deadline to sign up is Friday 14 January.
Leading Construction in 2022
We hope you have found time to take a look at our ‘Year in Review 2021’, which showcases just how much Build UK achieved on your behalf over the last 12 months. From keeping the industry open through COVID-19 and managing Brexit-related issues to launching the Common Assessment Standard and responding to CITB Consensus, we hope you will agree it demonstrates how quickly and effectively the industry can make a difference when the whole supply chain works together.
Our first member call of the year will be a general meeting next Tuesday 11 January at 11:30am to elect Paul Cossell (ISG Ltd) as the new Build UK Chair, followed by a presentation from Peter Baker, Chief Inspector of Buildings, who will set out his plans for the new Building Safety Regulator. Members should have received a calendar invite for the call and please accept it to confirm your attendance or email [email protected].
Year in Review 2021
What an end to another eventful year! Just when we thought we were on the home straight, new COVID‐19 restrictions have been put in place. However, there is a clear message from Government that construction should continue and Build UK is reviewing and updating the industry guidance as appropriate.
Despite the current circumstances, we can all look back with enormous pride on the role that our industry has played over the last 12 months. We began 2021 in lockdown and our first job when we returned from the Christmas break was to relieve pressure on London’s transport network and ensure we kept sites open. We haven’t stopped since and you, our incredible members, have responded to every single call to action. Time and time again this year we have demonstrated how quickly and effectively the industry can make a difference when the whole supply chain works together.
We have navigated the challenges of lockdown, workplace testing, a ‘pingdemic’, material and labour shortages, whilst also dealing with the Brexit transition. Through our regular member calls and weekly updates, we have shared knowledge and best practice and provided concise and relevant information, enabling your projects to stay open and your teams to work safely. Alongside this, we have continued to drive improvements in payment terms, launched the Common Assessment Standard, and responded to CITB Consensus, ensuring the industry keeps moving forward.
Our ‘Year in Review 2021’ showcases just how much Build UK has achieved over the last 12 months on your behalf, and we hope you will agree that it demonstrates the value of having a representative organisation that brings together the supply chain, focusses on transforming the industry, and delivers outcomes that really do change the way construction operates.
Leading Construction into 2022
We have no plans to slow down in 2022 and will begin the year by electing our new Chair, who will lead the Build UK Board as we continue the rollout of the Common Assessment Standard, work with the public sector to implement the Construction Playbook, and improve the journey from education into employment in the industry.
The Government’s drive to build back greener, better and faster, together with its ambitious plans to level up the country, will ensure that construction remains in the spotlight throughout the next 12 months.
We are extremely proud to fly the flag for the industry and thank you for choosing Build UK as your representative organisation and for your continued support.
Last updated: 14 December
Construction Remains Open
The Prime Minister addressed the nation on Sunday evening to urge everyone to ‘get boosted now’ in response to the ‘tidal wave of Omicron coming’, as the COVID Alert level was raised to 4, the second highest level, for the first time since May. England has now moved to Plan B, which means it is a legal requirement to wear a face covering in most public indoor venues, except hospitality, and individuals should work from home where it is possible to do so.
The Government’s Working Safely guidance is clear that anyone who cannot work from home should continue to go into work, and construction and manufacturing sites should continue to operate. Maintaining a safe workplace remains a priority and members should continue to focus on ensuring appropriate and sufficient supervision and minimising the risk of transmission of COVID‐19.
The Government has confirmed that the data will be kept under ‘constant review’ and once the regulations are implemented tomorrow (15 December) they are set to be reviewed after three weeks on Wednesday 5 January and expire after six weeks on Wednesday 26 January.
Guidance for Industry Updated
From today (14 December), daily testing is being introduced for close contacts of someone who has tested positive for COVID‐19 ‐ including those of Omicron cases ‐ in place of the requirement to self‐isolate. This means that anyone who is identified as a close contact and is either fully vaccinated or aged under 18 years 6 months does not need to self‐isolate but should take daily lateral flow tests for 7 days. The Build UK COVID‐19 flowchart has been updated in line with the new rules.
On behalf of the CLC, Build UK has updated the guidance on The Use of Face Coverings in Construction during Coronavirus. In line with the updated Government guidance, where workers on site are not required to wear RPE and their workplace is crowded and enclosed (which may include welfare and changing facilities, site offices, site meeting rooms or site transport) and they come into contact with others they do not normally meet, their employer should make face coverings available and they should be worn.
The Site Operating Procedures remain available as a reference document and will be reviewed and updated if necessary.
COVID‐19 Restrictions Across the UK
Scotland ‐ Individuals should work from home where possible; people must wear a face covering on public transport and in most indoor places, including hospitality and whilst working in other people’s homes; and everyone is being encouraged to take a lateral flow test before mixing with people from other households.
Wales ‐ Individuals should work from home wherever it is possible; and people must wear a face covering on public transport and in most indoor places, except hospitality.
Northern Ireland ‐ Individuals should work from home where possible and employers that require staff to come into the workplace must complete a mandatory risk assessment; and people must wear a face covering on public transport and in most indoor places, including hospitality.
Election of Build UK Chair
Thanks to all those members that have confirmed their support for the nomination of Paul Cossell, Chief Executive of ISG Ltd, as Build UK Chair. Paul is the sole nomination and will be formally elected at the general meeting to be held on Tuesday 11 January at 11:30am.
New Business Champions
Galliford Try, Osborne and VolkerWessels UK are the latest Build UK members to become Business Champions as part of CLC’s CO2nstruct Zero programme. Members can sign up at any time by aligning their business commitments to one or more of the nine priorities.
Thanks for Your Support
This is the final Build UK update of the year, although we will be sharing our ‘Year in Review 2021’ with you later this week before hopefully taking a break over Christmas! There is no doubt that Build UK’s strength lies in its membership and a huge thank you to each and every one of you for joining our member calls, sharing information, and reading our updates again this year. Your insight enables us to focus on the issues that really matter, present a powerful voice for the industry, and provide a rapid response to changing circumstances as demonstrated again over the last week. We will be back in your inboxes with our first update of 2022 on Thursday 6 January!
The Build UK office will close on Thursday 23 December and re‐open on Tuesday 4 January, and we look forward to working with you all again next year.