The UK Government announced a further extension of the Coronavirus Lockdown restriction for at least another three weeks on 16 April, with suggestions that this may continue into late-May.
While there now appears to be consensus across the UK that construction, or at least construction activity in certain key sectors, should be seen as an essential industry, much of the guidance on what is critical and what is not remains vague and, ultimately places the responsibility on employers to decide what is and is not an acceptable activity or risk for their workers.
Remediation of unsafe cladding had been highlighted as critical to public safety, but the installation of essential passive and active fire protection systems have not been mentioned as such. While expressing its support for the construction sector and encouraging the industry to focus on getting back to work, many in the sector, including the ASFP, are calling for much greater clarity.
If the Government needs construction to continue it should declare those involved in such activity as ‘key workers’ and define a range of critical activities. The Government must also provide clear advice for employers to ensure that they can get back to work in the knowledge that their workers are as safe as possible; and their activities and any the risks to their workers’ health are validated as essential to the nation by Government.
While UK companies are still encouraged to follow the guidance in the CLC Site operating procedures Version 3, but some may find some of the guidelines prepared by Ireland’s Construction Industry Federation useful in putting together an appropriate health and safety regime as they consider returning to work.
The Builders Merchants Federation in collaboration with the Construction Leadership Council has issued Branch Operating Guidelines for Builders’ Merchant staff in England and Northern Ireland to follow when operating during the COVID 19 outbreak. There are separate regulations/guidance in place in Scotland and Wales.
CiTB is also offering a range of updates and support for construction companies.
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
The Government launched its the online claims service for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme on 20 April and reported over 140,000 companies had applied in the first day. The scheme has been extended by one month until 30 June.
The scheme allows firms to furlough employees with the government paying cash grants of 80% of their wages up to a maximum of £2,500 per month. It was originally open for three months and backdated from the 1 March to the end of May but the scheme will now be kept under review and extended again if necessary.
The Government has produced a step by step guide for employers to assist them in submitting claims, as well as an online calculator to help work out the figures they will need to complete a claim and how much can be claimed.
Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme
The Government has launched the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme, offering loans to all viable businesses. Those with a turnover of more than £45 million can apply for up to £25 million; and those with a turnover of more than £250 million are eligible for up to £50 million.
This is in addition to the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme already available which offers access to finance up to £5 million for small and medium-sized businesses, with an annual turnover of up to £45 million.
ASFP response to Government Building Safety Bill proposals
The Association for Specialist Fire Protection (ASFP) has issued a statement in response to Government Building Safety Bill proposals, welcoming the Government’s plans to reform building safety and to undertake a major review of the building regulations; a move which the Association believes is long overdue.
The Association also welcomes plans to establish new regulators for Building Safety and for Construction Products, and a new Construction Products Standards Committee and looks forward to working with these new organisations to further improve the safety of our built environment.
- BESA daily webinars
- The Association for Consultancy and Engineering (ACE) is running a number of webinars which can be accessed
- Construction Industry Council Low Value Disputes Model Adjudication Procedure (CIC LVD MAP) launch webinar, 1 May
INDUSTRY RESOURCES AND UPDATES
- British Safety Council
- Build UK Daily Updates
- Builders Merchants Federation suppliers status
- Builders Merchants Federation merchants status
- Builders Merchants Federation/CLC Branch Operating Guidelines
- CLC Site operating procedures Version 3
- CLC guidance on Temporary Suspension of Sites
- CLC Advice on Employment Schemes
- CLC Plan to sustain the construction industry
- CLC Travel to Work letter
- RICS/RIBA/RTPI letter
- CIC Post-Lockdown Survey
- Ireland’s Construction Industry Federation Guidelines
ASFP ONLINE LEARNING RESOURCES
- ASFP Publications
- ASFP Video Library
- ASFP Online Introduction to Passive Fire Protection (E-learning)
- Employers & Businesses
- Decontamination in Non-Healthcare Settings
- Public Sector Procurement in Response to COVID-19: Procurement Policy Notice
- Households on Self-Isolation
- Social Distancing
- Business Minister Letter to the Construction Industry
- Business Minister Letter to the Manufacturing Sector
- PHE Social distancing in the workplace during coronavirus (COVID‐19) – Construction guidance
- Building Safety Programme guidance on remediation and Covid-19
- Scottish Government construction sector guidance
- Welsh Government guidance on Taking all reasonable measures to maintain physical distancing in the workplace
PROCUREMENT AND CONTRACT GUIDANCE
- CLC statement on payments and contracts
- Cabinet Office Policy Procurement Notice (PPN) 02/20
- Cabinet Office construction-specific guidance to PPN 02/20
- CMA guidance outlining temporary measures to relax competition between businesses
- Build UK Guidance on Contractual Issues caused by Coronavirus
GOVERNMENT FINANCIAL SUPPORT
- Consolidated financial support information
- Corona Virus Bill and Statutory Sick Pay Provision
- Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, step by step guide for employers, and online calculator
- Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme
- Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme
- Scottish Government Support for Businesses
- Welsh Government Support for Businesses