In Covid update

With more construction sites being encouraged to reopen, Build UK Chief Executive Suzannah Nichol, along with Contractors Mark Reynolds (Mace) and Greg Craig (Skanska), met with Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Alok Sharma to discuss how the Government could improve its coronavirus guidance to the construction industry. They raised a number of points, including the need for:

  • Sectors to have clear ‘permission to work’, reassuring both workers and members of the public that certain industries were being asked to continue their operations alongside the Government’s ‘stay at home’ policy.
  • Clear sector guidance on complying with social distancing requirements and the importance of Government endorsing sector-wide policies such as the Site Operating Procedures for construction.
  • Further guidance on the use of PPE in non-clinical working environments.
  • Further clarity over the reference to 15 minutes’ face to face contact as set out in the Government’s guidance on Social Distancing in the Workplace for the construction sector.
  • Supply chains including manufacturers, distributers and merchants to open up to provide the materials and other supplies required for industry to continue.
  • Flexibility from local authorities on extending working hours to support output and productivity where social distancing requirements result in a reduced headcount.
  • Sufficient availability of public transport for workers in London.

Meanwhile, the Government has announced a new micro-loan scheme for businesses. The Bounce Back Loans of up to a maximum of £50,000, or 25% of turnover will have a 100% Government-backed guarantee, with the Government paying the interest for the first 12 months.

The Government has also produced a Business Support Finder to help users to discover what support is available for them and their business.

CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY SURVEYS

Several construction organisations are looking for information from companies working in the sector on the impact of Coronavirus:

  • The Association for Consulting and Engineering, on behalf of the Construction Leadership Council, is conducting a survey on the uptake of the Government Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. The CLC is also seeking a small number of case studies of businesses that are already bringing employees back from furlough
  • With a number of supply issues emerging, including material, product and accommodation shortages, Build UK is asking members to complete a short Materials & Accommodation Survey by 5:00pm on Wednesday 29 April at the latest

Meanwhile Construction Manager magazine has released the final results of its Coronavirus survey which found that the majority of construction professionals say their organisations are trying to keep sites operational.

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