Build UK’s update the industry amid the covid-19 outbreak 

The prime minister addressed the nation yesterday evening to provide a plan for both beating the virus and the ‘first sketch’ of a roadmap for reopening society. He confirmed that, whilst those that can work from home should continue to do so, anyone that can’t, which includes those in construction and manufacturing, is actively encouraged to go to work but to avoid travelling on public transport where possible.

It was made clear that this is not the end of lockdown but the start of the government‘s plan to ‘save lives and restore livelihoods’. Whilst small changes will be introduced over the coming weeks, these will be ‘conditional’ on keeping the rate of infection or R number below 1.0 and a new Covid Alert System will be used to indicate if that is being achieved.

Guidance on safer working for a range of working environments will be published this week and the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) will review the Site Operating Procedures in light of any changes.

The government is considering how to phase out the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, recognising the impact of a ‘cliff edge’ if it ends abruptly at the end of June 2020. A CLC working group has made a number of recommendations to the Treasury on how it could be extended as a ‘work support’ scheme. This would allow work and training to be undertaken whilst the amount of support from Government is phased out gradually over the last six months of 2020. It is likely there will need to be continued support for employees in the extremely vulnerable category, including those shielding or with caring responsibilities.

The working group also proposed that the industry should establish a talent retention scheme to safeguard against the loss of skills and experience. This could include an online portal to advertise and facilitate loans of teams or individuals between businesses.

At the end of last week, CLC Co-Chair Andy Mitchell (Tideway) and CLC member Mark Reynolds (Mace) joined a Q&A with Build UK Trade Association members. The discussion focussed on how the industry has pulled together to respond to the coronavirus crisis and the recognition this has resulted in from government. Continuing to work collaboratively will be key, with Andy Mitchell stating that “for the supply chain to survive this cannot become an ‘I win, you lose’ situation”. The Roadmap to Recovery currently being developed by the CLC will provide a unique opportunity to ‘restart, reset and reinvent’ the industry over the next 12 months and beyond.

Businesses should continue to follow the most up-to-date government guidance and for the latest updates please follow Build UK on Twitter and LinkedIn. If you have any construction-specific queries or feedback on what is happening within the industry, please contact Build UK.