For anyone who may use a builders merchant for supplies for trade/business purposes, follow the link for information on the UK’s merchants’ current opening/delivery services during the COVID-19 pandemic – https://www.bmf.org.uk/BMF/Information_Centre/COVID19-bulletins/Is-my-local-builders-merchant-open.aspx
To determine which financial support your business may be eligible for, visit the Government’s Business Support Finder and provide a few key details about your business, such as size, location and turnover.
Neil Ogilvie, Chief Executive of the PDA, has written a letter to members – view here.
Transport for London
There is significant pressure on the public transport network in London and the Government is looking at options for reducing the number of passengers at peak times.
If the situation does not improve and construction workers are identified as significantly contributing to overcrowding then more direct action or restrictions could be imposed.
Build UK is urging their members, with sites in London, to work with their supply chain and neighbouring sites to introduce staggered start and finish times and support workers to avoid travelling during peak times of 05:45 – 08:15 and 16:00 – 17:30 and to walk or cycle as part of their journey.
A Letter from BEIS to everyone working in the UK’s construction sector
Latest Brexit briefing from the Builders Merchants Federation
The following BMF Brexit bulletin contains the latest information, insight and support available for your business.
Applications have now opened for the third grant under the Self‐Employment Income Support Scheme. A business must have experienced a negative impact from coronavirus between 1 November 2020 and 31 January 2021 in order to submit a claim before the deadline of Friday 29 January.
Working safely during COVID-19 in other people’s homes
You can view Trustmark’s Work Safe Safe Work document by clicking here.
For the Government website, please click here.
Government: Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
Check if you can claim for your employees’ wages through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme by clicking here.
Associate Partner News – guides by Citation
With the increase in coronavirus cases, it’s important to ensure your business is COVID-secure and you can guarantee the safety of your employees and other persons who visit your premises.
This article by Citation explains what to do if an employee reports that they have COVID-19 symptoms, what to do while they’re waiting for their tests results, and the steps to take if your business is contacted by the NHS Test and Trace service. Click here to read.
Update for the self-employed
Thérèse Coffey, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions announced today (3 November 2020) that the Minimum Income Floor (MIF) for self-employed Universal Credit claimants will remain suspended until the end of April 2021, extending a vital lifeline for hundreds of thousands of people.
The further suspension means self-employed people will continue to receive crucial financial support from Universal Credit based on their current actual earnings – providing additional protection for those who see a drop in earnings due to the impact of Covid 19.
For further information, please visit https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-extends-extra-welfare-support-for-self-employed-for-further-six-months
This announcement is in addition to the extension of the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme announced on 2 November. https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-increases-support-for-self-employed-across-the-uk
Government extends Furlough to March and increases self-employed support
Workers across the United Kingdom will benefit from increased support with a five-month extension of the furlough scheme into Spring 2021, the Chancellor announced today, 5 November. Read more here.
Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme
The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) provides financial support to smaller businesses affected by coronavirus (COVID-19). You can find out more by clicking here.
Croner: Job Retention Scheme Extension – Furlough FAQ
On 31 October 2020, it was announced that the Job Retention, or furlough, Scheme was to be extended into December. Below are some key FAQs from Croner, concerning what we currently know about the extension.
Advice from HM Treasury
Click here to find out more about furlough, the self-employment scheme, stamp duty holiday, the Spending Review and much more.
Financial Conduct Authority: Mortgages and coronavirus
Find out how the FCA expect mortgage lenders and administrators to treat you during the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, and read about the steps we’ve taken to support you by clicking here.
Webinar: Short and long-term workforce planning – how can the new government initiatives help?
CIPD and SDN have teamed up to host a webinar, to take you through:
The new initiatives – what, why, when, where and how?
Short-term priorities vs long-term workforce planning – how could the initiatives support both?
Hear from employers who are drawing on these initiatives and the role they will play in developing their workforce
Hear from a kickstart gateway organisation, working with employers to offer kickstart placements and how this is working in practice
The webinar will take place on Tues, 24 November (3-4pm) and is free of charge. Can’t make the date / time? Feel free to register and we’ll send you the webinar recording.
You can register for the webinar here
Update from the Education and Skills Funding Agency
Following the publication of the government’s Plan for Jobs, which included a £111 million investment to triple the number of traineeships available in 2020/21, the ESFA is running a procurement opportunity so providers and employers can access funding to deliver 19 to 24 funded traineeship growth. They will be looking for providers and employers who have the capacity to start providing high-quality traineeships from the beginning of February 2021 through a ring-fenced contract for service.
They’ll also be introducing a new employer incentive of £1000 to incentivise employers to offer new traineeship work placements and support with the employer’s costs in setting up their offer. The new incentive payment will only apply during the 2020/21 academic year. More information on the employer incentive will be available shortly.
LIFETIME SKILLS GUARANTEE
The Prime Minister delivered his keynote speech on skills at Exeter College on 29 September.
LATEST GOVERNMENT ANNOUNCEMENTS
Please visit the GOV.UK website to find the latest, official Government announcements regarding COVID-19. Click here to find the information.
TRACK AND TRACE
HM Government has now launched the Test and Trace service to help reduce the spread of coronavirus and save lives.
Full details and guidance for employers can be found here: https://bit.ly/3eB7bcC
- As of Monday 15 June, face coverings will be required while using public transport in England
- As of Friday 24 July, face coverings will be mandatory in shops and supermarkets
Full guidance on face coverings can be found here: https://bit.ly/FaceCoveringUpdatedGuidance.
PLAN FOR JOBS
The Chancellor’s ‘Plan for Jobs’, which was presented during his Summer Statement, sets out how the Government will support, protect and create jobs as part of the economic recovery. We would encourage every company in construction to play its part by registering your interest for the Talent Retention Scheme ahead of its launch later this month. Developed by the CLC in partnership with Government, the scheme, which will be free to use until April 2021, is based on a proven model in the aerospace and automotive sectors which balances redundancies in companies with recruitment needs in others.
Key announcements by the Chancellor included:
- A £2 billion Kickstart Scheme from August 2020 will subsidise new six‐month work placements for people receiving Universal Credit, who are aged between 16 and 24 and at risk of long‐term unemployment
- For the next 6 months, employers will receive a grant of between £1,000 and £2,000 for each trainee or apprentice employed in a new role
- From September 2020, homeowners in England will be able to apply for vouchers of up to £5,000 for energy‐saving home improvements under the new £2 billion Green Homes Grant scheme.
COVID-19 early outbreak management information has been created to make sure that people who run businesses or organisations:
- Know how to recognise and report an incident of COVID-19; and
- Are aware of measures local health protection teams may advise in order to contain it.
Full details can be found here: https://bit.ly/CV19EarlyOutbreak
RETURNING TO WORK
Now we are seeing more construction sites, and other places of work re-starting, we’d like to remind you of the range of CITB – COVID-19 site safety checklists and forms produced to support the CLC site operating procedures.
These include a site compliance checklist, risk assessment template, Toolbox Talk and weekly site checklist, all these and an additional ninety-eight interactive checklists and forms can be found here.
EXTENDING CONSTRUCTION HOURS
The Government has published guidance on extending construction working hours introduced in the Business and Planning Act. Companies are now able to request extended and flexible site working hours through a fast‐track application process, with Local Authorities having 14 calendar days to make a decision otherwise the revised working hours will be deemed to have been consented to.
ROADMAP TO RECOVERY
The Construction Leadership Council (CLC) has published their Roadmap to Recovery soon, which sets out how the construction sector, working with Government, can ‘restart, reset, and reinvent’ the industry.
- Restart: increasing output, maximising employment and minimising disruption (0 ‐ 3 months)
- Reset: driving demand, increasing productivity and strengthening capability in the supply chain (3 ‐ 12 months)
- Reinvent: transforming the industry, delivering better value, collaboration and partnership (12 ‐ 24 months).
- To help employers reopen their businesses safely, the Government have launched a new tool to identify the most relevant guidance for your business. The guidance highlighted will help you carry out a risk assessment and make sensible adjustments to the site and workforce. Employees can also use this guide to check what their work needs to do to keep people safe. This guidance is only for businesses that are allowed to reopen in England and can be found here: https://bit.ly/WorkingSafelyTool.
- The Government has also updated its Working safely during coronavirus ‐ Construction and other outdoor work guidance to reflect the new ‘one metre plus’ social distancing requirement from 4 July 2020.
- Construction sites have essentially been operating in this way since the Site Operating Procedures were first published on 24 March, and the feedback we have received so far is that sites are intending to maintain the social distancing practices already in place. The Construction Leadership Council (CLC) will publish an updated version of the Site Operating Procedures later this week.
- The Site Operating Procedures have been updated by the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) to reflect the latest Government guidance following the easing of lockdown measures in England from Saturday 4 July. View them here.
The Government guidance on Working safely during coronavirus (COVID‐19): Construction and other outdoor work include a section on assisting the NHS Test and Trace service, which states that companies should keep a temporary record of staff shift patterns and visitors to sites for 21 days. The following should be recorded:
- Names of staff working on site
- Contact phone number for each member of staff
- Dates and times that staff are at work
- Name of the site visitor. For groups, the name of the ‘lead member’ and the number of people should be recorded
- Contact phone number for the visitor or the lead member of a group
- Date of visit, arrival time and, where possible, departure time.
For companies using MSite, Datascope, the Go Smart App or similar systems to read CSCS and partner scheme cards, gathering the data will be a quick and simple process. Unless otherwise agreed by the individual, no other data should be collected for the purposes of Test and Trace and it should be deleted or securely disposed of after 21 days.
Where staff are notified by the Test and Trace service that they must self‐isolate, employers with fewer than 250 employees can apply to HMRC to recover the costs of paying coronavirus‐related SSP under the Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme. Claims should be submitted via the online service and there is currently no indication of when the scheme will close.
BUSINESS AND PLANNING BILL
- Companies will be able to request extended and flexible site working hours through a fast‐track application process. Draft guidance confirms that Local Authorities will have 14 calendar days to consider applications and, if they do not make a decision within that time, the revised working hours will be deemed to have been consented to.
- Planning permission deadlines for sites with consent which have an expiry date between the start of lockdown and the end of this year will be extended until 1 April 2021.
- The Planning Inspectorate (PINS) will have the ability to use more than one procedure, such as written representations, hearings and inquiries, at the same time when dealing with a planning appeal to speed up the process.
The Government has announced that coronavirus (COVID-19) testing has been extended to anyone who goes into work because they cannot work from home and is showing symptoms of coronavirus. This includes construction workers, as well as people they live with who have symptoms, and there are two ways to arrange a test:
- Self-referral – enables workers and members of their households who have symptoms to book a test directly using the online system
- Employer referral – allows employers to refer workers for a test via a secure portal. Employers will need to obtain a login by emailing email@example.com with their organisation name, nature of their business, region, and names and email addresses for two users. Contractors may find it more efficient for clients already registered for their essential workers to request the test on their behalf.
LOOKING AFTER YOURSELF
In these uncertain times, it’s important that you look after your mental wellbeing. Lots of support and advice is available to help you.
As members of the PDA, you have access to a 24/7 year-round stress counselling line. The telephone number to call is shown in your policy schedule and you will need your policy number to access the advice.
B&CE also has a Construction Worker Helpline you call in confidence on freephone 0808 801 0372 between 8 am and 8 pm, seven days a week.
There are other helplines that can provide free, confidential mental health support.
NHS has a list of mental health helplines that you can view here.
GOV.UK also has guidance on mental health and wellbeing – click here to visit.
If you are at risk or experiencing domestic abuse you can still seek refuge and support is still available to you. The National Domestic Abuse Helpline is free to call 24/7 on 0808 2000 247. Find out more: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/domestic-abuse-how-to-get-help or for employers, click here.
BOUNCE BACK LOAN SCHEME
The Chancellor has launched a 100% Government-backed Bounce Back Loan Scheme for small businesses which is now open for applications:
- Businesses can borrow between £2,000 and £50,000, capped at 25% of turnover, with no fee to access the scheme
- The Government will guarantee 100% of the loan and there will not be any fees or interest to pay for the first 12 months
- Loan terms will be up to 6 years and no repayments will be due during the first 12 months
- Interest rates will be capped at 2.5% per annum
- Lenders are not permitted to take personal guarantees or recovery action over a borrower’s personal assets (such as their main home or personal vehicle).
To be eligible for the scheme, a business must be based in the UK, have been negatively affected by coronavirus, have been trading on 1 March 2020, and not have been an ‘undertaking in difficultly’ as of 31 December 2019.
To apply, companies should approach a lender via its website and fill in the short online application form to self-certify that they are eligible for a loan. You cannot apply if you’re already claiming under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS); however, if you would like to transfer your CBILS loan into the BBLS, you can arrange this with your lender until 4 November 2020.
DEFERRAL OF VAT
REVERSE CHARGE VAT
The Treasury has announced that the introduction of Reverse Charge VAT will be delayed for a further five months until 1 March 2021. An action within the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) Roadmap to Recovery, the delay was called for by a coalition of industry bodies, including Build UK, and is welcome news for the industry.
VAT DEFERRAL UPDATE
The VAT payment deferral period will end on 30 June 2020. Any VAT payments deferred between 20 March and 30 June should be paid in full on or before 31 March 2021. For VAT payments due from 1 July, companies should make sure they are ready by:
- Setting up cancelled direct debits in enough time for HMRC to take payment
- Ensuring VAT returns are submitted as normal and on time
- Paying the VAT in full on payments due after 30 June.
CORONAVIRUS BUSINESS INTERRUPTION LOAN SCHEME
The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) is now available through participating lenders. Find out more here.
The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme is available for small and medium-sized businesses, with an annual turnover of up to £45 million, to access finance up to £5 million.
The Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme offers loans to all viable businesses.
- Those with a turnover of more than £45 million can apply for up to £25 million.
- Those with a turnover of more than £250 million are eligible for up to £200 million.
Apply now from an accredited lender by following the steps on the British Business Bank website.
The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) has published a helpful checklist on how to strengthen your application for funding under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) or the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS).
People making new claims for Universal Credit will no longer need to call the Department as part of the process.
Instead, a bolstered frontline team will proactively call claimants if they need to check any of the information provided as part of the claim, as well as messaging them on their online journal to confirm details.
No call should come out of the blue. Claimants should be contacted via their online account or journal and informed that someone will call them.
The DWP caller will go through an identity check with the claimant based on the online application. These might include partner details, dependants, previous addresses etc.
If the recipient of the call has any doubts, they should ask the DWP caller to confirm something that a genuine DWP claims handler should know. Banks often use addresses or account numbers etc.
Most importantly – No representative of DWP will ask for bank details by email or by phone.
More information at: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/don-t-call-us-we-ll-call-you
SMALL BUSINESS GRANTS FUND (SBGF)
Eligible businesses in England in receipt of either Small Business Rates Relief (SBRR) or Rural Rates Relief (RRR) are eligible for a payment of £10,000. Companies that are eligible will be contacted by their Local Authority to arrange payment.
To support eligible businesses in England to access the small business grants, BEIS have created a toolkit with regional graphics and messaging.
A new discretionary fund has also been announced, which will help small businesses with ongoing fixed property related costs. Please find further details here: https://bit.ly/BizGrantTopup.
Businesses can check eligibility using the financial support checker tool: https://bit.ly/CVCheckerTool
OUR ACTIVITY WITH GOVERNMENT & PRESS
Neil Ogilvie, Chief Executive of the PDA has sent a letter on behalf of members to Mr Paul Scully MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy). The call to Government was to arrange a meeting to discuss the ways we can work together to protect this crucial industry and the livelihoods of members.
The PDA has also issued a press release to the national and regional press, as well as trade titles, calling for financial support for self-employed members.
View the letter here
View the press release here
The PDA continues to work with Build UK.
As part of PDA membership, you have the full support of Markel Law and access to their Legal Advice Line and the Law Hub for queries, especially those relating to employment, health and safety, or commercial matters resulting from COVID-19.
Markel Law has also created a dedicated Coronavirus tile on the Law Hub, to make it easier for you to get to the relevant content.
Remember, your membership gives you access to Markel Law’s 24/7 year-round telephone advice line. This service provides advice on general legal matters on the law which applies in the UK.
GUIDANCE FROM OUR ASSOCIATE PARTNER SOLICITORS
The telephone number to call is shown in your policy schedule and you will need your policy number to access the advice.
Wright Hassall, our associate partner solicitors, has put together a legal guide to help UK businesses through COVID-19.
To download the document, visit: https://www.cw-chamber.co.uk/media/7263/wright-hassall-_coronavirus_legal-guides-for-uk-business_26-march-2020.pdf
They also have a wealth of other information around COVID-19 on their website – click here.
- Premier Businesscare has published a number of articles on their “Insight Hub” which may be of use to the members.You can view it by clicking here.
- For our larger members who may be operating from their own premises, they’ve also put this together advice on creating a plan to return to work. You can find this here.
- They’ve also provided us with some use recourses from Aviva, AXA, HSE, DACB and Kennedys, which you can access here.
For the first seven days off work, employees can self-certify, so they don’t need any evidence for their employer. After that, employers may ask for evidence of sickness absence – an isolation note can be used to provide evidence of the advice to self-isolate.
The notes can be accessed through the NHS website and NHS 111 online. After answering a few questions, an isolation note will be emailed to the user – further information here.
Employers are reminded to keep records of sickness absence due to coronavirus or self-isolation in anticipation of being able to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) under the Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme once the online system is available.
The scheme will be available to employers with fewer than 250 employees, as of 28 February 2020, to recover the costs of paying SSP to employees for up to 2 weeks from 13 March 2020.
Citation has released a useful article, outlining all of the details of the Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme. Read it here.
THE STATUTORY SICK PAY REBATE SCHEME
The Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme allows employers with fewer than 250 employees to apply to HMRC to recover the costs of paying coronavirus‐related SSP. Employers can claim for periods of sickness covering up to two weeks starting on or after:
- 13 March 2020 ‐ if their employee(s) had coronavirus or symptoms, or was self‐isolating because someone they live with had symptoms
- 16 April 2020 ‐ if their employee(s) was shielding because of coronavirus
- 28 May 2020 ‐ if their employee(s) has been notified by the NHS or public health bodies that they have come into contact with someone with coronavirus.
CITB are continuously posting updates on their dedicated COVID-19 Hub. You can find out what CITB are doing to support construction employers here.
Daily updates are also being circulated – click here to view them.
CITB is continually reviewing training provision in light of coronavirus and has recently confirmed that:
- The National Construction Colleges at Bircham Newton, Erith and Kings Norton will be reopening and taking a phased approach to resuming face‐to‐face from 6 July. NCC apprentices will be contacted directly to confirm the restart of their training. The Inchinnan training centre in Scotland will remain closed until further notice.
- Following positive feedback, the remote delivery of Site Safety Plus courses will continue until at least 31 December 2020. Companies can find a course using the CITB Course Locator.
|Type of Enquiry||Who to contact|
|Levy or grant firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Grant query in relation to a non-CITB apprentice||Customer.ServicesYNET@citb.co.uk|
|Card scheme queries||CSCS CPCS NPORS|
|Site Safety Plus course bookings (SMSTS, SSSTS, Health and Safety Awareness, SEATS)||https://www.citb.co.uk/courses-and-qualifications/find-a-training-course/site-safety-plus-courses/|
|Skills and Training Fund||https://www.citb.co.uk/levy-grants-and-funding/grants-funding/skills-and-training-fund/ email@example.com|
|ATO enquiries||0844 994 4047 firstname.lastname@example.org|
GUIDANCE ON CONTRACTUAL ISSUES
The CLC has publishedguidance for all companies in the construction supply chain on how to minimise potential disputes. It builds on Build UK’s Guidance on Contractual Issues Caused by Coronavirus and offers practical advice on resolving common issues, as well as a series of template letters.
This guidance is supported by non-statutory guidance from the Cabinet Office on responsible contractual behaviour where contracts have been impacted by coronavirus.
The National Apprenticeship Service has put together a document around apprenticeships and COVID-19 – you can view it here.
The Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education has also published new guidance on the delivery of assessment at https://www.instituteforapprenticeships.org/response-to-covid-19/
This video shows you how to use, pause and stop in the apprenticeship service to record a break in learning. View here.
CITB has also extended its advanced apprenticeship grant payments to include higher-level apprentices. It has also made its apprenticeship e‐learning available free of charge to all apprentices, regardless of who they are studying with.
The Government has recently updated its guidance for apprentices, employers and training providers to support the delivery of apprenticeships during coronaviruS.
The Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IFATE) has also published guidance on the delivery of assessments, focussed on end point assessment plans and external quality assurance requirements during the pandemic.
Build UK Trade Association members BESA and ECA have worked together to produce guidance on working in close proximity for the engineering services sector, where the activity is essential and unavoidable and a distance of two metres cannot be maintained.
The Department for Education has released version 4 of its Apprenticeship Programme Response – click here to view.
Click here to download the latest Government document that sets out guidance for apprentices, employers, training providers and assessment organisations in response to the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19).
For those who have been unable to update their CSCS cards and now hold out of date cards, go to the CSCS website here. CSCS has temporarily suspended its telephone service due to a reduction in the number of staff available; however, online applications can still be submitted.
They have also extended the period for card renewals to 12 months from the expiry date of the card. All workers should still hold a card relevant for their occupation.
CSCS and its partner schemes have introduced a range of measures to support cardholders during the current pandemic. View here.
Read the latest information on changes to Card Schemes and Card Scheme Tests.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
CLC has published Frequently Asked Questions on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and furloughing workers – click here to view.
The British Business Bank has published Frequently Asked Questions on the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) which is now available to SMEs – click here to view.
HM Government Business Support has a list of Frequently Asked Questions – click here to view.
The Government has a list of FAQs on 13 May announcement – view here.
We are asking members to follow Government advice, which can be found in full here.
For specific information and guidance for businesses, go the Government website by clicking here.
Advice from the NHS about COVID-19 can be found in full here.
Build UK has a dedicated COVID-19 area on its website, as well as daily updates. Head to: www.builduk.org/coronavirus/
Build UK partner, Citation, has produced guidance for employers on this best practice for redundancies, which can be found here.
The Trade Association Forum has daily updates regarding COVID 19 – view them here: https://www.taforum.org/news/coronavirus-and-isolation-supporting-yourself-and-your-colleagues/
If you have any immediate and urgent enquiries regarding contractual issues, please call the Wedlake Bell helpline service (0844 249 9871) or your chosen legal provider.
Many businesses have been asking how they can support with the response to Coronavirus. You can find more information and a form to get in touch here: https://bit.ly/3bzOfcD
You can download or order resources, such as leaflets, posters, guides and resource packs from: https://campaignresources.phe.gov.uk/resources/campaigns/101-coronavirus-/resources
From 30 March 2020, Right to Work checks have been temporarily adjusted so that they can be carried out by video calls, with new workers submitting scanned documents rather than originals.
The Government has passed a working time amendment to allow holiday carryover – more here.
A new right to Emergency Volunteering Leave (EVL) has been made – more information here.
Croner has created a Coronavirus Toolkit, which you can view here.
The Government has launched a Coronavirus Business Support Hub, bringing together the key information for companies, sole traders and the self-employed on funding and support available during coronavirus.
To help contractors working away from home find local accommodation, Build UK has temporarily repurposed its Open Doors website. Anyone looking for a bed for the night can now use the Open Doors website to find accommodation providers who have space for construction workers.
As of 1 May 2020, all PPE purchased by businesses, care homes, charities, and individuals to protect against coronavirus will be free from VAT for a three-month period until 31 July 2020.