In Covid update, News

The latest ASFP Covid 19 Update includes a round-up of news and support available from Government and industry to assist business and construction with the latest Covid-19 restrictions.  This includes:

  • New Lockdown for England announced
  • Furlough Scheme Extended
  • Site Operating Procedures – Version 6
  • Updated face covering guidance
  • Build UK Covid actions Flowchart
  • CLC updates Road to Recovery
  • Build UK survey results

England Lockdown announced

The Prime Minister has announced a four‐week lockdown in England from Thursday 5 November until Wednesday 2 December. The latest restrictions include requiring people to stay at home except for specific purposes, not mixing with other households, and the closing of certain businesses and venues. The Government has made it clear that construction and manufacturing should stay open. Hotels can also remain open to provide accommodation for workers.

In Scotland there are now has five COVID protection levels in place, ranging from ‘Level 0 ‐ Nearly Normal’ to ‘Level 4 ‐ Lockdown’.

Wales remains under its own ‘firebreak’ lockdown until Monday 9 November 00:01am.

Northern Ireland also has its own restrictions in place until Friday 13 November.

Furlough Scheme Extended

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been until the end of March 2021, with employees receiving 80% of their current salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500. Under the extended scheme, employers will only have to pay National Insurance and pension contributions, with the Government paying the full 80% of wages, and details of how to claim will be available shortly. The Job Support Scheme, which was due to start on 1 November, has been postponed until the Job Retention Scheme ends.

The grant available under the Self‐Employed Income Support Scheme from 1 November 2020 until 31 January 2021 has been increased to 80% of trading profits for all parts of the UK. capped at £7,500.

The UK Government has also increased funding for the devolved administrations. It is guaranteeing at least 16bn in funding on top of their Spring Budget 2020 allocation: Scottish Government – £8.2 billion, Welsh Government – £5.0 billion, Northern Ireland Executive – £2.8 billion.

Further information on the increased support, announced on 5 November, can be found in the Government’s economic support factsheet.

Site Operating Procedures – Version 6 

The Construction Leadership Council (CLC) have been updated the Site Operating Procedures.

Changes to the Site Operating Procedures – Version 6 include:

  • Current requirements such as social distancing are referenced on page 1 making it easier to update in future
  • Updated guidance on shielding, self-isolation, testing and what to do if a worker develops  COVID-19 symptoms or has to self-isolate
  • Confirmation that canteens serving food must display an NHS QR Code
  • The wording has been reviewed throughout to reflect the fact that social distancing is no longer exceptional, and that in some key areas Government has published more detailed guidance or updated terminology.
  • Inclusion of CLC updated guidance on face coverings in construction

Updated face covering guidance

The Construction Leadership Council (CLC) statement on The Use of Face Coverings in Construction recommends that where workers on site are not required to wear Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) and their workplace meets Government criteria, their employer should make face coverings available and they should be worn:

  • in an enclosed space;
  • where social distancing isn’t always possible; and
  • where they come into contact with others they do not normally meet.

Face coverings must also be worn in site canteens except when seated at a table to eat or drink.

Build UK Covid tools

Build Uk has developed several tools to help companies and sites respond quickly and consistently to the restrictions. These include

  • flowchart on the actions to take if a worker develops COVID‐19 symptoms, receives a positive test result, or has to self‐isolate.
  • an authorisation letter template for employers in the event of workers being stopped on journeys to and from sites anywhere in the UK.

CLC updates Road to Recovery

The Construction Leadership Council has published an update to Roadmap to Recovery, its plan to restart and reinvigorate the UK construction industry in response to COVID-19.

The Roadmap to Recovery, published in July 2020 set out how the industry could restart work, reset activity to get back to normal levels of productivity, and then reinvent the sector to build back better in the long term.

The update shows that there has been good progress to deliver on all these objectives. It highlights the industry’s success in ensuring workers are safe and how organisations are working with their customers and supply chain to support each other and avoid disputes.

Build UK survey results

The results of the second cross-industry ‘People Survey’, carried out by Build UK on behalf of the Construction Leadership Council in September suggests that employers are doing what they can to retain employees.

There is still expected to be a reduction of 4.2% in the workforce by December, but the fall in the number of graduates taken on in September was less than anticipated and overall the number of apprentices employed is expected to increase slightly.

The data highlights the following:

  • There are expected to be job losses over the next three months, particularly amongst self-employed and agency workers
  • Specialist Contractors and Developers anticipate the largest reductions in their workforces
  • Overall the number of apprentices employed is expected to increase slightly over the next three months
  • The fall in the number of graduates in September was less severe than predicted in June
  • Training will continue to be a blend of online and face-to-face, with the majority of training providers having resumed face-to-face training or planning to do so over the next three months
  • Most companies expect to retain some level of working from home in the future

View the full report