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This short briefing has been prepared on behalf of the UK construction sector to brief companies and individuals on the ongoing repercussions of the Covid-19 coronavirus for our sector.

Government Advice 

BEIS has updated their guidance for employers, employees and businesses during the pandemic.

Scottish Government

The Scottish Government announced a £2.2bn business support package including:

  • 10,000 grants for small businesses in receipt of the Small Business Bonus Scheme or Rural Relief;
  • 1.6% relief for all properties, effectively freezing the poundage rate next year;
  • First minister to convene an emergency meeting of the Financial Services Advisory Board.

This supersedes the £350M of support previously outlined by the Scottish Government and includes the £1.9bn of support as outlined by the Chancellor.

Welsh Government 

Yesterday the Welsh Government announced a £1.4bn business support package including a £10,000 grant to all businesses eligible for Small Business Rates Relief with a rateable value of £12,000 or less.

HSE

The HSE has published guidance for employers on protecting home workers – read it here.

CITB – funding

The Skills and Training Funds for both small and micro and medium-sized businesses will be launched on 1 April and assessed at the end of April. 

Support to develop applications will be available from the CITB Partnerships Team over the phone or Skype in addition to written guidance available on the web site.

CITB will offer increased flexibility to those businesses with current Skills and Training Fund Projects; recognising that changing business need will result in requests for different training, or a change to delivery time scales.

CITB is also reviewing how the funds can be used to help businesses retain essential skills and support managers to provide the right leadership through a challenging period.

CITB – grants

CITB understands that cashflow is an immediate issue for employers, with this in mind it has prioritised the processing of grant claims in order to pay grants as early as possible. 

In consideration of the current circumstances it has also suspended the 20 week claiming rule, this will allow employers to claim grants later as a result of the disruption caused by this pandemic.

CSCS – Covid-19 and impact on CSCS applications

CSCS has updated its statement on Covid-19 – read it here.

CPCS

CPCS is supporting extension of renewal of cards. CPCS has suggested to employers that their sites could be lenient on accepting cards that have expired from mid-March onwards until the Covid-19 situation has been brought more under control, although it has said that the final choice and decision is for employers.

Key workers

The Government has announced that, while schools will close to most pupils, there will be an exemption for the children of certain ‘key workers’. Typically this will be medical, emergency, logistics and armed forces workers. 

However it also includes those working to ensure transport, gas, electricity and water infrastructure keeps operating. 

It should be noted that only roles required to keep these essential services running will be deemed key workers, not general employees in these sectors.

ACAS webinars for employers

Employers can join a free ACAS webinar ‘Coronavirus – an advisory webinar for employers’. The webinar provides practical advice for employers to help manage the impact of coronavirus in the workplace. It includes:-

  • steps that can help reduce the spread of the virus
  • effective ways of communicating with employees
  • self-isolating, time off, sickness certification and sick pay
  • altering working hours, shift patterns and working arrangements
  • remote working and the use of technology

Businesses can find out more and register here.

National Cyber Security Centre

Further to yesterday’s note regarding cybercrime linked to Covid-19, the NCSC has released guidance on how to make sure your organisation is prepared for an increase in home working and advice on spotting coronavirus-related scam emails. Read it here.

Insurance

The FCA today set out its expectations to insurers and consumers on coronavirus. Below are the relevant parts applicable to the industry.

  • Renewing insurance policies;

“If your insurance is due for renewal, contact your insurer to discuss in good time.  It may be that, after renewal, the policy will no longer cover claims due to coronavirus.”

“We’re aware that some insurance firms are considering or have stopped selling new insurance policies to customers. We are not able to prevent firms from removing or amending products from the market for new customers as it is a decision for individual insurers.

“If you are looking for insurance, we suggest you speak directly to an insurer or insurance broker and ensure you buy insurance that fits with your demands and needs.”

Federation of Master Builders

The Federation of Master Builders has written to the Secretary of State for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, Chancellor of the Exchequer, and the Housing Secretary, in response to Covid-19. Its key asks are:

  • Provide a three month tax holiday on VAT, PAYE and CIS payments. The Government must also delay the implementation of Reverse Charge VAT by one year;
  • Extend the £25,000 cash grant currently only provided to retail and hospitality to construction firms;
  • Provide the equivalent rate of Statutory Sick Pay to the self-employed who fill 37% of industry jobs;
  • Ensure that the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme is quick and easy to use, and is launched as soon as possible.

Your feedback is vital

To help us to continue to support industry, we welcome feedback from across the sector. Please take five minutes to fill in the following survey (https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/18MarCovid19) which lets us know of the issues you face, and offers opportunity to provide specific feedback on Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme

The Briefing has been prepared in collaboration between the industry’s leading trade and representative bodies: Institution of Civil Engineers, Association for Consultancy & Engineering, Build UK, Chartered Institute of Building, Civil Engineering Contractors Association, Construction Products Association and Federation of Master Builders.

Like what you’ve read? To receive New Civil Engineer’s daily and weekly newsletters click here.



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