In Covid update

Chancellor offers new Plan for Jobs

The Chancellor’s Plan for Jobs presented during his Summer Statement sets out how the Government aims to support, protect and create jobs as part of the economic recovery. Key announcements included:

  • A Job Retention Bonus of £1,000 will be paid to employers who bring back furloughed staff and continue to employ them until at least January 2021
  • 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.

CLC launches Talent Retention Scheme

The Construction Leadership Council is to launch a Talent Retention Scheme (CLC TRS), supported by Government, which aims to help talented individuals showcase their experience and expertise and help businesses find the skills they need.

The online portal will support redeployment of staff at risk of redundancy across the sector, while also enabling temporary employee loans between businesses. The Scheme will give displaced workers from other sectors a route to find new employment in construction.

The not-for-profit programme, expected to launch in late July, has funding secured until the end of the financial year, allowing all services provided by the TRS to be free until April 2021. Businesses can register their interest in the scheme at: www.trs-system.co.uk/construction

CLC guidance on futureproofing contract amendments

The Disputes and Collaboration group for the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) COVID-19 Task Force has published guidance on futureproofing contract amendments in the light of COVID-19.

Building upon the Contractual Best Practice Guidance published by the group earlier in the year, it includes options for amending many of the JCT and NEC contracts to cater for impacts of the pandemic on delivery of the works/services.

The guidance aims to help identify the issues and distil parties’ negotiated positions into the drafting of the contract. It is intended that this advice will provide a starting point for all parties involved as to how they will deal with the COVID-19 pandemic going forward.

The working group has also published a Summary Guide and Guidance on Record Keeping to help the supply chain manage the impact of COVID-19 on their businesses.

Construction output in May 2020

The Office for National Statistics has released statistics which show that total construction output in May 2020 was 38.8% (£5,230 million) lower than the February 2020 level, which was before the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

Although construction output increased by 8.2% in May 2020 compared with April 2020, rising to £8,253 million, output remains at a substantially lower level than normal compared with the all work construction output series prior to March 2020. Following the large record monthly falls in April 2020 across all construction industry sectors, in May 2020 there was monthly growth across all sectors apart from public other new work and public housing repair and maintenance. The data can be viewed at ONS Construction Update

Further data and analysis is available from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy BEIS Construction Dashboard

Assisting NHS Test and Trace

The Government guidance on Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19): Construction and other outdoor work includes 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:

  • Staff
    • Names of staff working on site
    • Contact phone number for each member of staff
    • Dates and times that staff are at work
  • Visitors
    • 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.

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.

Welsh Government issues construction guidance

The Welsh Government has issued guidance to Keep Wales Safe – at work in construction and other outdoor work, which states that companies “must take all reasonable measures to ensure a two metre physical distance is maintained”. Where reasonable measures cannot be taken and closer working is required, it is important that other measures are considered, including minimising the level of interaction and using physical barriers.

TFL travel guidance for construction

TfL published guidance to assist the construction industry to plan their journeys and travel safely in London.  The document contains specific advice for any organisations operating sites in the City of London, City of Westminster, at Canary Wharf, Nine Elms and Stratford.

DfE Construction Framework 2021

The Department for Education (DfE) has issued a Prior Information Notice (PIN) to begin market engagement for its next Construction Framework due to start at the end of 2021. Interested contractors and suppliers must register by Wednesday 22 July at 5:00pm to attend one of the online market engagement events on 28 and 29 July 2020 at 10:00am.

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