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Coronavirus: Construction industry daily briefing

19 March 2020

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 the industry.

Government advice 

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has updated its guidance for employers, employees and businesses during the pandemic – to read it, click here

Covid-19: Cross-industry response

The Association for Consultancy & Engineering, Build UK, Chartered Institute of Building, CITB, Civil Engineering Contractors Association, Construction Plant-Hire Association, Construction Products Association, Federation of Master Builders, and Institution of Civil Engineers are working together to respond to covid-19. Initial priorities for the group include:

The Cabinet Office has confirmed that it is preparing guidance to public sector customers about how to deal with delay and disruption under public contracts, including force majeure claims. Industry will liaise with Cabinet Office to offer support in this work.

CITB

The Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) has confirmed it will support the industry to protect skills for when the covid-19 pandemic subsides, so that UK construction can play a full role in the UK bouncing back from this crisis.

CITB will provide regular updates and details of supporting activities via its specific coronavirus-related webpage which you can access here.

Covid-19 & cybercrime

There has been a spike in email scams linked to coronavirus, including fraudulent offers of a vaccine, specific measures that claim to help businesses, or fraudulent claims of available funds or tax breaks. Companies should be aware of this phenomenon and be vigilant online. For more details click here.

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme

On 17 March Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that £330bn of loans to firms impacted by covid-19. The loans are intended to support any business to access cash to pay their rent, salaries, and suppliers. The loans will carry no interest for the first six months. Loans should be available from early next week via high street banks. Details on accessing the support will follow in subsequent briefings

Grants to small businesses

The Chancellor announced that it would increase grants to businesses eligible for Small Business Rate Relief from £3,000 to £10,000. Companies that this applies to will not need to do anything – you will be contacted by your local authority.

IR35 

The government has postponed the introduction of the IR35 tax reforms until next April, although the change remains government policy and will take effect from next year.

Joint industry letters to prime minister

On 17 March the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) and leading sector trade bodies wrote to prime minister Boris Johnson outlining the immediate difficulties faced by the sector. The letter calls for:

The Association for Consultancy & Engineering has also written to the prime minster outlining a series of immediate, short and near term measures that could help the industry deal with the economic impact of the covid-19 crisis on our sector. The interventions include:

Feedback

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 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: Association for Consultancy & Engineering, Build UK, Chartered Institute of Building, CITB, Civil Engineering Contractors Association, Construction Products Association, Federation of Master Builders, and Institution of Civil Engineers.

Comments

Dear Construction Manager -

I write in regard the recent corona virus outbreak and the issue this will have on the construction industry right across the board -

I personally work for a large construction company, who have instructed all of us to work from home if we can, and to keep the live projects working -

My role is construction manager, and I am taking many phone calls from our very worried supply chain.

I am getting messages saying that we will be in this situation most likely until September of this year - Just how are companies going to keep going, cash in is king as we all know -

Even the largest of construction companies won’t be able to have staff sat at home working with no income from clients -

This could lead to massive redundancies right across the construction sector and total devastation to the industry -

Not only that, clients are not issuing instructions to stop work, even though many operatives are not coming into work meaning obvious project delays, which in turn will lead to massive on costs trying to mitigate delays.

I watch with interest many news programmes and live houses or parliament debates, yet not once do I see anything about construction - do these people not know how many self-employed people are in this industry people that won’t have any pay immediately work stops -

Do they not realise how many manufacturing business are affected when sites are not running or projects not starting -

Pre-construction and planning is taking forever to resolve meaning new projects are taking a life time to get onto site - Planning committees don’t seem to be sitting, so any projects at that stage are now just stood - so even when we do come out of this crisis, new projects are not going to start for many months, again meaning that companies will have salaries to pay with no income -

I have been in the industry for over 44 years and have never been so concerned, even during the deepest of recessions -

What is the government going to do to protect everyone in the construction industry, and by that I mean everyone-

My pension that I have worked for over all these years is now down by about 30 - 40 % and I truly fear where all this will end, worse still no one seems to even consider the construction industry -

Yours Truly
A very worried Construction Manager

Dave -


Dave Thomas, 19 March 2020

Be good to use thermal imaging camera at all sites this will help identify any one that has a raised temp but doesn’t realise they may be CVID19 +

mark, 19 March 2020

I am a plumber and Gas engineer and believe I am a protected worker but some work is coming in and others have cancelled on me. As there is no specific plan to help the self employed and having checked out my position the Gov website seems not up to date as I won`t qualify for universal benefit as I have been prudent with my money for retirement and have more than 16k in savings. So am I going to have to survive on what work I can find or deplete my savings. Nothing surer though that when we have all this money given out it will need paying back, hopefully I will get a tax refund next year if work doesn't keep going. I suppose I`m lucky to be in my position but even if I can`t claim I know who will be asked to pay it back. This virus is going to get worse before better and lots of self employed will be much worse off than me but it needs sorting fairly.

Martin Garside, 21 March 2020

I am a manager on a building site and have only been with this firm for 10weeks , The workers all sit in the canteen every break and I myself sit in the managers office with another 4 managers and all the contractors are in and out of our office all day, I am really worried as I have Asthma and only finished radiotherapy for prostate cancer in October last Year but I have been told to just continue as normal working by the company I work for is this right and if I self isolate will I still be entitled to my wages as I am staff and get my salary monthly but have only been working for them for 10weeks.

Stephen Bradbury, 22 March 2020

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