COVID-19

Guidance & Support from CONSTRUCT

The impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) can be seen across the country, and particularly on the construction industry as construction has been identified as an example of work that is expected to continue during the pandemic. In order to support our members through this challenging, unprecedented period, we have created a page where you can access all of the latest information from Government, training bodies, card schemes and more to keep your business up-to-date.

CONSTRUCT has written to the Card Schemes, Awarding Organisations and CITB to ensure members’ workforce can continue to access site where cards have expired, and complete training and qualifications.

Government has been inundated with letters from industry bodies both from construction and the wider economy. They are therefore only working with and responding to wider industry bodies which include the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) in which Build UK is a leading member. As CONSTRUCT is a member of Build UK, we are feeding in our industry’s issues and demands. Build UK and CLC have thus far taken on-board all of our feedback which has fed into the wider industry response to Government.

The Construction leadership Council (CLC) has launched the Roadmap to Recovery, which sets out the plan for construction to restart, reset and reinvent. Thanks to the members that fed into this process; CONSTRUCT has been involved through our links with Build UK.

This is an important document that we would encourage all members to read. However, for those who would prefer, Build UK has also created an Executive Summary, which gives a brief outline of the key points. There will also be further sub-sector plans for Infrastructure; Housing; Local, Social & Commercial; and Domestic RMI, to follow.

Training, Skills and Education Lobbying

CONSTRUCT has requested for flexible measures to be enforced during this difficult and uncertain time, including grace periods of 6-12 months for expiring cards to be accepted on site and deadlines for renewal. CONSTRUCT also requested the HS&E Test to be administered remotely and CITB has now introduced an app for employers to run their own in-house testing.

These list only a few of the requests regarding training & skills issues – find out more about what CONSTRUCT is doing to support the industry by reading our full press release here.

You can also read the letters issued by CONSTRUCT below:

Thanks to CONSTRUCT’s lobbying efforts, CSCS and affiliated card schemes have put in a range of measures to help industry through the pandemic. More flexibility has been introduced for the main card schemes CONSTRUCT’s members use such as CSCS, CCDO, CPCS and NPORS.

You can view an overview of all the changes CSCS and the 27 affiliated schemes have put in place, with links to each scheme’s detailed guidance.

CONSTRUCT has written to CITB for the second time, requesting additional measures to increase access to funding, speed up grant claims, and ensure crucial standard development work continues ready for the ramping up of training in the months to come. You can read the full letter here.

Asks of Government & the Supply Chain

Through Build UK & the CLC, we have lobbied government and the supply chain on the following issues:

  • Pressuring Clients and Primary Contractors to pay their invoices promptly, on time, and release retentions, to keep our members’ cash flow as healthy as possible. This should be backed by Government.
  • Direct all Government bodies to release all retention monies.
  • Pressuring Primary Contractors to strictly adhere to the Site Operating Procedures to ensure that our members’ workers are as safe as possible during this period.
  • Asking Government to publicly knowledge that construction is being asked to continue to operate. Many workers are experiencing harassment on public transport or being stopped by police. The Construction Minister has now issued this letter.
  • Suspend PAYE and CIS tax due to HMRC in April and May for construction and consultancy firms and workers with no financial penalty.
  • Defer/cancel Apprenticeship Levy payments for the duration of the crisis and extend expiry of Apprenticeship Levy Credits.
  • Support the directors of micro-businesses, who currently fall between the support provided by the Job Retention Scheme and assistance for the self-employed.
  • Seek the issuing of government guidance to local authorities that would allow for welfare facilities to be expanded outside of a site’s footprint, particularly in cities thereby allowing more people to work on a site.
  • A coordinated test, trace and isolate strategy with construction sites getting access to tests that can be administered on CONSTRUCT members’ sites
  • Clearer communications from Primary Contractors to their sub-contractors (i.e. CONSTRUCT members and other trade on their sites) about the measures they have brought in to meet the Site Operating Procedures, and methods to ensure compliance. These actions are aimed at giving the workforce and our members the peace of mind that sites are safe to work on. You can read our email on this matter here.

If you’re facing other issues, please contact us.

Government Working Safely Guidance

The government published detailed guidance on 11 May 2020, on working safely during COVID-19. This includes specific guidance for the construction industry.

The government has also published it’s Recovery Strategy.

Site Operating Procedures

Every construction site must comply with the Site Operating Procedures developed by Build UK and the Construction Leadership Council (CLC). The latest updates are now in line with the government’s guidance.

If you are Tier 2 and the PC is not complying with SOPs, use these guidelines to pressure PCs to make the necessary adjustments to their sites, and report it to CONSTRUCT. We will report any contravention of the procedures with Build UK/CLC. You can also report it via the Health & Safety Executive (HSE). Should you act as the PC on any site, please ensure you strictly adhere to these procedures.

Public Health England has recently published new guidance on Social distancing in the workplace during coronavirus (COVID-19), which includes specific guidance in relation to Construction.

On Tuesday 23 June, the Prime Minister introduced the ‘one metre plus’ social distancing guideline which requires workers to stay two metres apart, or one metre with risk mitigation where two metres is not viable. These measures are outlined in the latest version of the Site Operating Procedures linked above.

Checklists for Implementing SOPs

CITB has produced a range of checklists to help employers implement the Site Operating Procedures in practice:

Using the NHS COVID-19 App on Your Sites

The NHS COVID‐19 app has been launched in England and Wales to help control the spread of coronavirus. Construction sites can create a unique NHS QR code and posters to display at each site entrance. We recommend that all members embed this into their processes for sites they manage, and should liaise with primary contractors on larger sites you work on to ensure a single QR is code is used.

Members can also play their part by encouraging their workforce to download and use the app outside of work.

Face Coverings on Site

Build UK has produced a brief report summarising the approaches being taken by its Contractor members with regard to the use of face coverings. Based on the assumption that a risk assessment had been undertaken and any PPE required for particular tasks provided, our snapshot survey requested members’ policies on the provision of face coverings in response to coronavirus.

Following the introduction of new restrictions, the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) has updated its statement on face coverings. The Use of Face Coverings in Construction during Coronavirus (COVID‐19) now recommends that face coverings are worn where workers on site are not required to wear Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) and their workplace (which may include welfare and changing facilities, office or meetings rooms) meets all of the following criteria:

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

In line with Government guidance on premises providing hospitality, face coverings must be worn in site canteens except when seated at a table to eat or drink.

Testing and Self Isolation Requirements

If a member of the workforce shows any of the three main COVID‐19 symptoms, they should get a test within five days and self‐isolate until they have received their test result. In accordance with Government guidance, colleagues who were in close contact do not need to self‐isolate, unless requested to do so by NHS Test and Trace. They should be informed that a colleague (who should remain anonymous) may have COVID‐19 and they should take extra care in practising social distancing and good hygiene.

Employers who are informed of more than one confirmed case should contact their local Public Health England Health Protection Team.

Extended Working Hours on Sites

Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government Robert Jenrick has published a Written Ministerial Statement making it clear that for the next 12 months local planning authorities in England should not refuse requests to extend working hours on construction sites up to 9:00pm, Monday to Saturday, without very compelling reasons. In some cases, such as in areas without residential properties, 24-hour working may be justified.

Requests should be made to the local planning authority which should aim to issue a decision within 10 working days. Short term or modest increases to working hours may be agreed informally, whereas longer term or more significant changes will require a formal application in the usual way and the Government has published FAQs with further information.

The Government has published guidance on extending construction working hours introduced in the Business and Planning Act. Companies are now able to request extended and flexible site working hours through a fast‐track application process, with Local Authorities having 14 calendar days to make a decision otherwise the revised working hours will be deemed to have been consented to.

HSE Plant Inspection

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has confirmed that plant and equipment inspections should continue during the coronavirus pandemic, whilst recognising that there is reduced capacity for them to be undertaken due to a lack of available personnel and restricted access to site. If you are continuing to use equipment outside of its inspection period, you still have a duty of care and must document actions taken to make the equipment safe to use.

First Aid Cover in the Workplace

The HSE has also confirmed temporary changes for first aid cover in the workplace during coronavirus:

  • Anyone with a first aid certificate that expires on or after 16 March 2020 and is unable to access re-qualification training may qualify for a 3-month extension. This applies to First Aid at Work (FAW), Emergency First Aid at Work (EFAW), Offshore Medic (OM) and Offshore First Aid (OFA).
  • If first aid training is interrupted and the qualification cannot be completed within the usual timeframe, training can re-start at a later date as long as a full recap of training already delivered is undertaken and candidates show the knowledge and competencies required.

Transport for London Construction Toolkit

Transport for London (TfL) continues to encourage people to avoid using the network during peak times (05:45 ‐ 08:15 and 16:00 ‐ 17:30) and has published a construction toolkit with guidance for businesses and specific asks for the construction sector when it comes to travelling to and from site.

Performing CPR on Adult

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, St John Ambulance has updated its guidance for performing CPR on an unresponsive adult. The guidance provides step by step actions of what you need to do if you find someone collapsed and unresponsive. 2020

CLC Contractual Best Practice Guidance

The Construction Leadership Council (CLC) has issued best practice guidance for contracts during COVID-19. The guidance provide examples of the types of issues that are likely to arise, together with practical advice on how to resolve them in a constructive manner. They are supported by government.

Wedlake Bell Contractual Guidance

There is now specific guidance available for CONSTRUCT members to access on the contractual issues that are arising because of COVID-19. This guidance has been commissioned by Build UK and produced by Wedlake Bell, and covers force majeure and frustration, variations, pandemic clauses and more. Remember that CONSTRUCT members can also contact enquiries@construct.org.uk for details of how to access the Wedlake Bell helpline for specific contractual issue advice as part of your CONSTRUCT membership.

HR & Employment Support

Members joined a Webinar with Citation, which you can now download and watch here. You can also download the slides separately here.

If you skip forward to 9mins in for the start of the HR/Employment section, you will find some useful guidance on temporary lay-offs, furloughing, and pay & sickness when employees are self-isolating. There is also a Q+A section where further questions were addressed up until 43mins in.

A Health & Safety presentation then follows, which I do not think is worth listening to, as it is too generic. Please refer to the Site Operating Procedures (SOPs) for specific construction-related health & safety guidance. There is also a letter of authorisation from the Construction Minister that you may wish to distribute to your workers, which outlines that construction workers can continue to go to work, which may be useful for any of your team that have been stopped by police.

There are some additional Q+As which are useful from 1h6m to 1h30m and from 1h30m to 1h42m, which covers Employment/HR and some Health & Safety issues.

From 1h30m Citation cover the Good Work Plan – there are significant changes to employment law from 6 April 2020, which will require members to make some changes to the way some workers are engaged, including contractually.

Remember, CONSTRUCT members can access free advice with Citation via the helpine – please contact us for details of how to access.

Employer Liability Insurance

Members may be concerned about their liability should one of your employees contract COVID-19 while working. Our Insurance Partners, Square Mile Broking, have helped us produce this guidance note on the subject.

If you require impartial advice on employers’ liability or indeed any insurances during this time, you can access free advice via the member helpline – please contact us for details of how to access.

Back to Business Hub

Citation has created a Back to Business hub containing downloadable guides, checklists and the latest guidance to help your prepare for re-opening business.

Government Loan Schemes Extension and Longer Payment Terms

Applications for the Government’s coronavirus loan schemes will be extended until 30 November, with a successor ‘loan guarantee programme’ to be launched in January 2021. The Bounce Back Loan Scheme will be supplemented by a ‘Pay as You Grow’ scheme, which will enable loans to be extended from six to 10 years, and both the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme will see their terms extended up to a maximum of 10 years where required.

Latest Government Support

This week the government announced a number of support measures as part of its ‘Plan for Jobs’, including:

  • A Job Retention Bonus of £1,000 will be paid to employers who bring back furloughed staff and continue to employ them until at least January 2021
  • A £2 billion Kickstart Scheme from August 2020 will subsidise new six‐month work placements for people receiving Universal Credit, who are aged between 16 and 24 and at risk of long‐term unemployment
  • For the next 6 months, employers will receive a grant of between £1,000 and £2,000 for each trainee or apprentice employed in a new role.

Summary of Financial Support

The Government has announced a number of financial support mechanisms for business, including tax payment deferrals, loans for business interruption, and wage support for PAYE staff.

Our Partners at Square Mile Broking, have also provided a more detailed summary on financial guidance available to businesses.

Furlough Scheme Replaced with New Job Support Scheme

The Chancellor unveiled his Winter Economy Plan yesterday, which included a new Job Support Scheme for six months to replace the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme when it ends on 31 October.

Access to this new scheme will not affect any member looking to claim the Job Retention Bonus of £1,000 for keeping a furloughed worker on through to 1 February 2021; the schemes are designed to work together.

The Chancellor has announced an expansion of the Job Support Scheme ahead of its launch on 1 November 2020. Employees will now be required to work at least 20% of their contracted hours, rather than 33%, with employers required to contribute just 5% of wages for unworked hours, rather than 33%. Employers using the scheme will also be able to claim the Job Retention Bonus for each eligible employee retained until at least 31 January 2021.

Furloughed Worker Payments

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has now been extended until 31 March 2021. Furloughed employees will receive 80% of their salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month, with employers paying only National Insurance and pension contributions. The deadline for submitting or changing claims for periods ending on or before 31 October 202o is Monday 30 November 2020. Claims for furlough days in November 2020 must be submitted by Monday 14 December 2020.

The portal for claiming furlough payments through the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is now live. Payments can take up to six working days to be paid into your nominated accounts, so we would advise applying as soon as possible.

The Government has confirmed that furloughed workers planning to take paid parental or adoption leave will be entitled to pay based on their usual earnings, rather than the furloughed pay rate.

Check the Government’s step by step guide to submitting claims for furloughed employees and, to avoid any delays with your submission, make sure you have the following to hand before you start.

Government has issued guidance on reintroducing furloughed staff to the workforce, or making them redundant during or after furlough.

Self Employee Wage Support

The Government has announced similar provisions for the self-employed, which will help much of the construction workforce. Those with operating profits of under £50,000 will be eligible for 80% payments to a max of £7,500 per month. This amount you get will be based on your tax returns for the last 3 years. There will be provisions for those with less than 3 years of returns, but full guidance is still to be published. Government has now brought forward the start date for the Self Employment Income Support Scheme and the claims service is now open. To check if you are eligible, you can use the online checker tool which can also tell you when to submit your claim.

The Self Employment Income Support Scheme has been increased to 80% of trading profits for the three‐month period covering 1 November to 31 January 2021, capped at £7,500.

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS)

The standard CBILS is open to SMEs for financial support of up to £5 million, administered by the Banks, and partially guaranteed by Government. This is subject to credit checks and there have been reports of difficulty getting funds, or very high interests or guarantees against homes required. If you are experiencing these difficulties, please contact CONSTRUCT.

For larger businesses, the newly launched Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS) provides businesses with a turnover of more than £45 million access to loans. Companies in this bracket will be able to apply for up to £25 million in finance, while up to £50 million is available for businesses with a turnover of more than £250 million. Previously businesses with a turnover of more than £500 million were not eligible. The scheme was launched on Monday 20 April 2020.

From 26 May 2020, large businesses will be able to borrow up to £200 million through the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS), after the Government increased the maximum loan size from £50 million. Companies borrowing more than £50 million will be subject to restrictions on dividend payments, senior pay and share buy‐backs during the period of the loan, including a ban on dividend payments and cash bonuses, except where they were previously agreed.

Bounce Back Loan Scheme

The Chancellor has launched a new 100% Government-backed Bounce Back Loan Scheme for small businesses which will open for applications on Monday 4 May:

• Small businesses will be able to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000 from an accredited lender and access the cash within days
• The Government will pay any fees and interest for the first 12 months, as well as providing lenders with a 100% guarantee for the loan
• No repayments will be due during the first 12 months
• Loans can be applied for online using a short and simple form.

The new scheme will run alongside the existing Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, and the Government is taking additional steps to ensure lenders can process applications quickly, including changing the viability tests so that all a bank needs to assess is whether a business was viable pre-coronavirus.

Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme

The Government has announced that the online service for the Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme has now been launched. This will allow small and medium‐sized employers, with fewer than 250 employees, to apply to HMRC to recover the costs of paying coronavirus‐related SSP to current or former employees for up to two weeks since 13 March 2020. To prepare to submit a claim, employers should make sure they have up to date records of all SSP payments that they wish to include. Government has also published guidance on submitting a claim.

Cash Flow Management

During this period, BAU short-term cash flow processes may no longer be adequate, so it is therefore vital for companies to review their processes to reduce risk of liquidation. Our Partners at Square Mile Broking, have provided guidance on how to manage your business’ cash flow. This guidance will take you through the COVID-19 accelerated and enhanced cash flow process, and also provide guidance on what your company can be doing to preserve cash during this time.

Square Mile Broking provide a helpline if you would like to request independent advice. Please contact CONSTRUCT for details.

Tax Guidance

Build UK Partner, KPMG, has issued guidance on tax measures adopted by Government in response to COVID-19 relevant to the construction industry.

Guidance on Obtaining Bonds

The CLC has publishedguidance on obtaining bonds. It is aimed at SMEs, although the principles will be useful for all members of the supply chain, and sets out practical advice and considerations for discussions with brokers when seeking such surety.

Cost Assessment Toolkit

The Construction Leadership Council (CLC) has published a Cost Assessment Toolkit to help the industry assess and forecast the cost implications of disruption due to coronavirus, in order to make more informed investment decisions.

VAT Repayments

Businesses that deferred their VAT payments earlier this year will now have the option to repay in 11 interest‐free instalments during the 2021‐22 financial year, rather than in one lump sum at the end of March 2021, to help with cashflow.

COVID-19 Testing for Construction Workers

The Government has announced that coronavirus (COVID-19) testing has been extended to anyone who goes into work because they cannot work from home and is showing symptoms of coronavirus. This includes construction workers, as well as people they live with who have symptoms, and there are two ways to arrange a test:

  • Self-referral – enables workers and members of their households who have symptoms to book a test directly using the online system
  • Employer referral – allows employers to refer workers for a test via a secure portal. Employers will need to obtain a login by emailing portalservicedesk@dhsc.gov.uk with their organisation name, nature of their business, region, and names and email addresses for two users. Contractors may find it more efficient for clients already registered for their essential workers to request the test on their behalf.

Accommodation for Construction Workers

Build UK has temporarily repurposed its Open Doors Website to help construction workers find local accommodation when working away from home. With more hotels re-opening across the country, the Open Doors Website will only offer accommodation to those working in lockdown areas.

Construction Talent Retention Scheme

The Government’s Construction Talent Retention Scheme (TRS) is now live! The online portal aims to help avoid skilled people leaving the sector where they lose their jobs, and help find other roles within construction.

Companies can register their interest and will be able to load vacancies onto the portal, and individuals who are looking for work will be able to have their own profile. The TRS model has been used successfully in other sectors such as automotive and aerospace.

Crisis Support Helpline

In this current crisis, it is vital that the your staff are aware that they can access the Lighthouse Club’s 24/7 Construction Industry Helpline for support. There is also financial support for those construction industry workers that are facing particular hardship.

Like many charities, the pandemic will also impact Lighthouse Club’s resources, so if you would like to give a donation or become a company supporter, you can do so here.

CITB Levy Payments

Collection of the CITB Levy resumed this month, and CITB is offering employers interest‐free Direct Debit instalments to spread payment over a 12‐month period until August 2021. The amount you are required to pay will be reflected in your 2019 Levy Assessment Notice, which was distributed by post in August, along with a Direct Debit mandate. Existing Direct Debits will automatically switch to the new instalment plan.

For 2021/22, CITB has proposed a 50% reduction in the Levy as well as raising the threshold at which companies are liable for Levy from £80,000 to £120,000. The Levy will be collected in six instalments between September 2021 and February 2022.

Levy Payment Holiday

CONSTRUCT lobbied CITB for a levy payment holiday and deferral of payments, which has achieved some result. The deadline has been further extended and employers will now not need to make any levy payments until September (previously August) and the payment can be spread over 12 months. The amount for the full year will, however, still be payable – i.e. there is no discount, just a delay in employers’ requirement to pay.

CITB cannot simply reduce the levy amount this year due to the legislation that surrounds the levy, however, they are having discussions with government to reduce the levy amount by 50% for the 2021/22 year spread over 6 months, collected from September 2021 to March 2022. This means, over the two years, you will pay 25% less levy than normal.

The consensus process this year has been cancelled and the Department for Education will introduce a new levy order to parliament for one year and the consensus process will start now for the following year.

Funding Claim Deadline Suspended

The 20-week deadline for submitting funding claims as been suspended, giving you more time to submit claims. CITB are also trying to speed up grant payments – make sure you log into your CITB portal to authorise any payments.

Apprenticeship Grants Advance – 2nd and 3rd Year Apprentices

To help with apprentice retention, there are also advance grant payments available for second and third year apprentice attendance grants. This could mean up to £2,500 worth of grant paid in advance – you must apply here.

Advanced Apprenticeship Grants

CITB have extended the Advanced Grant support to Higher Level Apprenticeships. Advanced Grant is now available for apprentices in their final year of a higher level apprenticeship. This will support employers with apprentices who are close to achieving their higher apprenticeship – full details can be found here.

ATO Self-Assessment Extension

CITB has extended the time ATOs have to deliver “assured” courses (where CITB has specifically defined how training is delivered).

In normal circumstances ATOs would need to complete a self-assessment in 30 days, following a course becoming standardised. The extension is this will allow ATOs with furloughed staff to complete self-assessments later and continue to provide standardised training to industry. There is more information from CITB on their website here.

CITB Skills Stability Plan for 2020/21

CITB has launched their Skills Stability Plan for 2020/21 to help the industry through COVID-19. The key focusses are on supporting apprentices through financial support for employers to keep them on, and if they are made redundant, to help them find new placements. There is also a shift in grants and funding being prioritised to go directly to employers (rather than for the larger skills projects or the funds we get as a training group, for example). CITB’s CEO, Sarah Beale, produced this YouTube Video to introduce the plan.

CITB COVID-19 Support Updates

CITB updates it’s COVID-19 page regularly here.

 

CONSTRUCT lobbied CSCS/CPCS/NPORS (click links to read the letters sent, or you can read our Press Release overview here), to provide a coordinated and flexible response to card expiry.

CSCS and Build UK have put together an overview of all the changes CSCS and the 27 affiliated schemes have put in place, with links to each scheme’s detailed guidance.

CSCS

Our Asks from CSCS

CSCS’ Response, highlighted the extended grace period for card renewals from 6 to 12 months, and they have removed the requirements.

NPORS

Our Asks from NPORS

NPORS’ response highlighted that they are extending operator cards by 6 months and provided their latest guidance.

Our consultation with NPORS has also led to the confirmation of the 6 month registration extension which applies to both the NPORS traditional cards and the NPORS/CSCS cards.

CPCS

Our Asks of CPCS

CPCS is still to respond. If you have any questions on the card schemes, please contact us. However, CPCS have set up a Temporary COVID-19 Card which is valid for 12 months and can be issued where operatives cannot sit the HS&E Test. It costs £15 and can be applied for online.

HS&E Test

CITB has launched a ‘lite’ version of the test that employers can do internally – it is available on iOS and a PC version, with the Android version to be launched shortly.

CITB have developed the following temporary LITE testing products as well as some suggested test delivery guidelines.

Please note: These LITE tests cannot be used to apply for a CSCS or CPCS card. Permission to allow the employee on site is at the discretion of the employer. This is an interim measure only. The candidate must pass a HS&E test in a Test Centre once temporary restrictions on Test Centres have been lifted.

Following the Government’s announcement on 10 May, CITB will begin the process of re-opening Health, Safety and Environment test centres in England.

Most Pearson centres in England are open as of Monday 18 May. Independent test centres will also be phased in once they have confirmed they are implementing social distancing measures. Find out more on CITB’s website.

Staff with employees whose Site Management Safety Training Scheme (SMSTS) or Site Supervision Safety Training Scheme (SSSTS) achievements expired after 15 March 2020 were given an extension to achieve the refresher course until 30 September. This grace period has been extended until 30 November 2020 to support those delegates who are unable to access the relevant refresher course due to the current situation. If you have any queries please contact CITB on sitesafetyplus@citb.co.uk.

A range of courses are available through remote learning including delivery of the Site Safety Plus Health and Safety Awareness course, SMSTS and SSSTS refresher courses. You can find more from your local centre via the SSP course locator.

We have sort flexibility from CITB and the Card schemes on the Temporary Works expiries too.

Apprenticeship Assessments

The Institute of Apprenticeships has produced guidance on apprentices that are effected by delays including for End Point Assessments (EPA) and to avoid ‘hardship’, putting in place professional ‘discretion’ to help support apprentices through to completions.

Apprentices on furlough can still complete EPAs, if provisions by the EPA Organisation have been put in place adapting for their assessments in light of the COVID-19 public health requirements.

You can find these details and the full FAQs here.

Government Support for Apprentices

The Education & Skills Funding Agency has published guidance for employers, training providers and apprentices covering:

  • confirming flexibilities to allow furloughed apprentices to continue their training and to take their end-point assessment, and to allow existing furloughed employees to start a new apprenticeship, as long as it does not provide services to or generate revenue for their employer
  • encouraging training providers to deliver training to apprentices remotely, and via e-learning, as far as is practicable
  • allowing the modification of end-point assessment arrangements, including remote assessments wherever practicable and possible – this is in order to support employers, providers and end-point assessment organisation (EPAOs) to maintain progress and achievement for apprentices
  • clarifying that apprentices ready for assessment, but who cannot be assessed due to COVID-19 issues, can have their end-point assessment rescheduled
  • apprentices whose gateway is delayed can have an extension to the assessment time frame
  • enabling employers and training providers to report and initiate a break in learning, where the interruption to learning due to COVID-19 is greater than 4 weeks
  • clarification on how to record breaks in learning in March so that funding is not unnecessarily disrupted
  • confirming that, where apprentices are made redundant, it is our ambition to find them alternative employment and continue their apprenticeship as quickly as possible and within 12 weeks
  • confirming that where apprentices are made redundant and are ready to go through gateway, that providers and EPAOs are able to make the necessary assessment arrangements to support these apprentices

You can view the full guidance here.

The way in which new apprenticeships are delivered will change from a framework to a standards model from 1 August 2020, and all employers in England will have to arrange their apprenticeships through the Government’s Apprenticeship Service from 1 April 2021. CITB is advising employers still using apprenticeship frameworks to plan their move to standards and set up an Apprenticeship Service account.

Apprenticeship Grants

CITB Grants have been hanged to aid employers keeping on apprentices during the pandemic. Please refer to the CITB Support Tab for more detail.

National Infrastructure and Construction Procurement Pipeline

Build UK has published an executive summary of the National Infrastructure and Construction Procurement Pipeline 2020/21 to help the industry understand recent Government announcements on the delivery of £37 billion of economic and social infrastructure projects. It shows a breakdown of 340 public sector contracts by sector, together with when they will actually be awarded, and more granular detail on each contract can be found in the pipeline workbook.

Changes to Planning and Affordable Homes Investment

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) has announced a number of new policies, which should help to support construction activity, and further detail has been published including:

  • Changes to Use Classes Order ‐ From 1 September 2020, a number of existing uses will be condensed into a single commercial, business and service use, which means that planning permission will not be required for changing use going forward. There are a list of exemptions, including pubs, bars, nightclubs and take‐away food establishments, which will continue to require planning permission.
  • A new permitted development right ‐ From 31 August 2020, commercial buildings will be able to be replaced with residential buildings using a streamlined prior approval process, rather than a full planning application. There will be a number of qualifications, including a vacancy test of six months, a size limitation of 1,000 square metres, and a height limit of 18 metres.
  • The Government has published guidance on extending construction working hours introduced in the Business and Planning Act. Companies are now able to request extended and flexible site working hours through a fast‐track application process, with Local Authorities having 14 calendar days to make a decision otherwise the revised working hours will be deemed to have been consented to.
  • Affordable Homes Guarantee Scheme ‐ A new £3 billion scheme will increase investment in providers of affordable housing and support the delivery of a significant number of new affordable homes. The contract for a delivery partner to operate the scheme should be awarded over the coming weeks and the scheme will be open for business by the end of the year.

The Government’s new Brexit campaign, The UK’s new start: let’s get going, is designed to help businesses and individuals prepare for the end of the transition period and the new rules coming in from 1 January 2021. Actions that can be taken now include:

The Government has also published details of changes in a number of areas which will come into effect after the transition period:

  • There will be new border controls for imports and exports in three stages from January, April and July 2021. From January:
    • Tariff payments on imports can be deferred until a customs declaration has been made
    • Companies will have six months to complete customs declarations forms
    • Customs agents or fast parcel operators will need to be based in Great Britain or Northern Ireland.
  • There will be new rules for the movement of timber and wood packaging material.
  • There will also be a new points‐based immigration system which will apply to EU and non‐EU citizens and require those that want to work in the UK to meet a specific set of requirements. In addition to passing the relevant UK criminality checks, the job must have a salary of at least £20,480, and 50 points are ‘earned’ by meeting the following mandatory criteria:
    • The applicant must have an offer of a job from a licensed sponsor
    • The job must be at or above the minimum skill level: RQF3 level or equivalent (A level or equivalent qualification). Workers will not need to hold a formal qualification; it is the skill level of the job they will be doing which is important
    • The applicant must speak English to an acceptable standard.
  • An additional 20 points will then be required which can be gained through a combination of a higher salary, a job being on the shortage occupation list, and/or the holding of additional qualifications.

Build UK is also issuing daily advice for construction industry as a whole. We work closely with them to ensure that our advice is in line with the wider sector, and that the concrete structures industry is heard and represented at the highest level of government, and the wider supply chain.

You can view their guidance here.

CONSTRUCT has created a hardhat sticker to help embed new behaviour on construction sites while social distancing measures are in place. While it is not always possible to maintain a 2m distance, workers should attempt to do so wherever possible. These stickers help provide a visual reminder for operatives to keep them and those around them safe.

Stickers can be ordered for free for a limited time by emailing enquiries@construct.org.uk. Please include the quantity required, site delivery address and a contact name and mobile number when ordering.