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

The government has updated its Working safely during coronavirus - Construction and other outdoor work guidance to reflect the new ‘one metre plus’ social distancing requirement from 4 July 2020. Construction sites have essentially been operating in this way since the Site Operating Procedures were first published on 24 March, and the feedback we have received so far is that sites are intending to maintain the social distancing practices already in place. The Construction Leadership Council (CLC) will publish an updated version of the Site Operating Procedures later this week.

The decision of the Department for Education (DfE) to grant a new CITB Levy Order without a full Consensus process has received a mixed reaction from the industry. Build UK had begun its consultation process before lockdown, but the situation has changed fundamentally in the last few months and the whole industry is currently focussed on responding to the challenges of the coronavirus crisis. Participating in the Consensus process with the full diligence required would divert valuable resources from this work. However, Build UK and its members will be consulted by CITB on the Levy proposals to be put forward.

The CLC Roadmap to Recovery identifies the need to maintain investment in the training and retention of a skilled workforce, and we will take this opportunity to determine and develop an effective training and skills structure for the sector, including the role that CITB will play.

CITB has confirmed the following in relation to the Levy for the next two years:

  • CITB will not begin taking payments for this year’s Levy until September 2020, after deferring it from May
  • Employers will have the option to spread their payments over 12 months until August 2021
  • CITB will propose to Government that next year’s Levy is reduced by 50% and collected over six months from September 2021 to February 2022.

The amount of Levy collected will drop by £166 million over the next two years, which will have a significant impact on the industry. CITB has confirmed that it will focus on protecting apprenticeships and providing direct funding to employers through the Grants Scheme and Skills and Training Funds, and further information can be found in CITB’s new business plan, the Skills Stability Plan 2020-21.

The government is set to pass a new Business and Planning Bill today which will cover a range of issues, including measures to boost the construction industry as called for by the CLC and Build UK:

  • Companies will be able to request extended and flexible site working hours through a fast-track application process. Draft guidance confirms that Local Authorities will have 14 calendar days to consider applications and, if they do not make a decision within that time, the revised working hours will be deemed to have been consented to.
  • Planning permission deadlines for sites with consent which have an expiry date between the start of lockdown and the end of this year will be extended until 1 April 2021.
  • The Planning Inspectorate (PINS) will have the ability to use more than one procedure, such as written representations, hearings and inquiries, at the same time when dealing with a planning appeal to speed up the process.

Ofgem has issued guidance to Network Operators stating that they should be providing a full service and complying with all of their regulatory obligations, including connections to new properties, from 1 July 2020. The only exceptions will be where works and services cannot be delivered to the required standards because of the need to comply with Government guidance on social distancing.

In case you missed it last week, we have released a short film showing how the industry has come together to respond to the coronavirus crisis. Please help us celebrate the role that construction has played by sharing it with your members and supply chains!

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