NASC Covid-19 News Stream
Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS)
BBLS opens for applications today. More info here. Under the scheme:
- Businesses can borrow between £2,000 and £50,000, capped at 25% of turnover, with no fee to access the scheme
- The Government will guarantee 100% of the loan and there will not be any fees or interest to pay for the first 12 months
- Loan terms will be up to 6 years and no repayments will be due during the first 12 months
- Interest rates will be capped at 2.5% per annum
- Lenders are not permitted to take personal guarantees or recovery action over a borrower’s personal assets (such as their main home or personal vehicle).
To be eligible for the scheme, a business must be based in the UK, have been negatively affected by coronavirus (COVID‐19), have been trading on 1 March 1 2020, and not have been an ‘undertaking in difficulty’ as of 31 December 2019.
To apply, companies should approach a lender via its website and fill in the short online application form to self‐certify that they are eligible for a loan. You cannot apply if you’re already claiming under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS); however, if you would like to transfer your CBILS loan into the BBLS, you can arrange this with your lender until 4 November 2020.
NASC Daily Coronavirus Bulletin – 29.04.20
1: Scaffolding Operations During the Covid-19 Pandemic Toolbox Talk – Issue 2
Issue 2 of the Scaffolding Operations During the Covid-19 Pandemic Toolbox Talk has been released following minor revisions. Download it here. Please ensure you refer to the latest copy of the document.
2: Scaffolding Workers Eligible for Covid-19 Testing
As part of the Government’s five-pillar strategy for Coronavirus testing, scaffolding contractors – under the umbrella of ‘construction workers’ – who have Coronavirus-like symptoms can apply to be tested to see if they currently have the infection. Employers can also refer their employees for testing.
You can select a regional test site drive-through appointment or home test kit. Home test kit availability will initially be limited but more will become available. More here.
3: Changes to Apprenticeships
Guidance for apprentices, employers, training providers and assessment organisations about changes to apprenticeships due to Coronavirus is available here.
4: DWP Launches Websites to Help Jobseekers and Employers
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has launched two websites offering labour market information for people looking for work now and advice for employers to help recruit them. The sites are jobhelp and employerhelp.
5: CLC Statement on Payments and Contracts – Reminder
Members may find the CLC’s statement on payments and contracts, available here, useful.
NASC Daily Coronavirus Bulletin – 27.04.20
1: Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) – application advice
The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) has prepared some advice to help businesses to improve their CBILS applications which includes a list of essential things to be included. For more click here.
2: Coranavirus Job Retention Scheme – Payments Due
Grants for furloughed employees are now being paid through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, just six working days after the first claims were received.
Payments for claims made on Monday 20 April will be in employers’ bank accounts by tomorrow (28 April) and some have arrived already.
3: HMRC April Employer Bulletin
Click here to read. This edition brings you all of the latest HMRC updates to support employers and payroll agents through the Coronavirus pandemic. There’s information on the Job Retention Scheme, Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme, and deferral of VAT payments. There’s also guidance on how best to support your employees through this challenging period, and the impacts of COVID-19 on Off-payroll working rules, workplace pensions, the independent loan charge and more.
4: Early May Bank Holiday Reminder
Members are reminded that the early May Bank Holiday is not on the first Monday in May this year but instead on Friday 8 May to acknowledge VE Day.
NASC Daily Coronavirus Bulletin – 21.04.20
1: Companies House support for businesses hit by COVID-19
Companies House will temporarily pause the strike off process to prevent companies being dissolved. This will give businesses affected by the Coronavirus outbreak the time they need to update their records and help them avoid being struck off the register. For more information click here.
2: Business Support Checker
Coronavirus (COVID-19) support is available to employers and the self-employed. You may be eligible for loans, tax relief and cash grants. Use this business support finder to see what support is available for you and your business.
NASC Publishes Covid-19 Guidance for Scaffolding Operations
The NASC has today published detailed Covid-19 guidance to assist the scaffolding industry in operating in compliance with current safety guidelines.
The document, titled Guidance for Scaffolding Operations During the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic, provides a broad range of advice scaffolding contractors might wish to adopt to help safeguard the health and welfare of their workforce.
New / revised risk assessments may involve enhanced site cleaning measures, changes to site organisation, new working arrangements and regular staff briefings. It is available for free download here.
Robin James, NASC Managing Director, said: “Scaffolding contractors – as part of the construction industry – have faced a significant challenge in recent weeks; continuing to operate where possible, as per the UK Government’s instruction, but also adhere to the Construction Leadership Council’s Site Operating Procedures (SOP) document.
“This latest NASC guidance is intended to help scaffolding contractors overcome this challenge. I’d like to thank NASC Council members and NASC staff for their hard work in producing this fluid guidance – taking it from an initial concept to publication in less than a fortnight.
“We expect this document will need to be revised in line with any alterations made to the SOP document, Government advice or Public Health England guidance. As such, scaffolding contractors are advised to regularly check the NASC website or social media channels for any updates.”
Submitting a Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme Application
After you’ve made a claim:
- keep a note or a print-out of your claim reference number – you won’t receive a confirmation SMS or email
- retain all records and calculations for your claims, in case we need to contact you about them
- expect to receive the funds six working days after you apply, provided your claim matches records that we hold for your PAYE scheme – please do not contact us before this time
- to receive payment by 30 April, you will need to complete an application by 22 April
- please ask your furloughed employees not to contact us directly – we will not be able to provide them with any information on individual claims.
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme Portal Now Live
Claims are now being accepted under the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, otherwise known at the Furlough Scheme. To submit a claim click here.
A step-by-step guide is available here.
Additional Contractual Clauses Relating to Hire, Labour, Inspections, and Return to Work
The NASC has issued an appendix to its existing guidance document CG12:19 Contract Clauses. The appendix contains a selection of additional (model) clauses (in respect of the Covid-19 pandemic) which scaffolding contractors may wish to use when writing to their clients regarding contractual matters.
It can be purchased here.
Job Retention Scheme Update
The Government has updated its guidance on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. The changes include:
- Extending the eligibility cut‐off date so that employers can now claim for furloughed employees that were on their PAYE payroll and notified to HMRC on an RTI submission on or before 19 March 2020 (rather than 28 February 2020)
- If an employee went on unpaid leave on or before 28 February 2020, a company cannot furlough them until the date on which it was agreed they would return from unpaid leave
- Companies will need to submit the following information for each furloughed employee:
- National Insurance number
- Claim period and amount
- Payroll/employee number (optional)
- Claims should be submitted via the online portal which is expected to be available next Monday 20 April 2020 as follows:
- Fewer than 100 furloughed employees ‐ enter details of each employee individually
- 100 or more furloughed employees ‐ upload a file (.xls .xlsx .csv .ods) with the details for all employees
- Companies should retain all records and calculations in respect of their claims.
The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has confirmed that the three‐week minimum period for furloughing an employee will remain in place. Furloughed employees can not undertake any work for the company which includes providing services or generating revenue.
Reporting Health and Safety Concerns
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has set up a website for workers to report concerns about health and safety where they cannot be resolved by speaking with their employer or trade union.
Site Operating Procedures – Version Three
The Construction Leadership Council has published version three of its Site Operating Procedures. The key changes include:
- Confirmation that the HSE is the enforcing authority for PHE guidelines
- The need for sites to monitor the implementation of the procedures
- Further details on who should not travel to work
- Guidance for those who have no option but to share transport to work
- Information on the hierarchy of controls which should be implemented to reduce the risk of transmission where social distancing of 2 metres cannot be achieved
- Information on first aid and emergency service response.
NASC Daily Coronavirus Bulletin – 09.04.20
1: CLC Statement on Payments and Contracts
This statement highlights the importance of maintaining cashflow to ensure the financial health of the industry and encourages all construction businesses to pay in accordance with agreed contractual terms.
The statement also says that “… firms should not be threatening to invoke penalty or other contractual clauses, when it should be the priority of all clients and firms to sustain the industry. Our actions at this time will be remembered. All firms should think hard about how their reputation could be damaged by not doing the right thing.”
2: Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (aka Furlough Scheme)
Detailed guidance on the system for making claims is expected to be released before the end of the week. The application portal is due to go live on Monday 20 April with first payments received before the end of the month.
To avoid unnecessary delay in receiving payment, make sure that you have a functioning HMRC PAYE Online Services Account by following the advice given here.
3: Ensuring the wellbeing of furloughed staff
The NASC is encouraging contractors to keep in touch with furloughed staff during this difficult time. For more advice on this please click here.
4: Guidance on Contractual Guidance on Issues Caused by Coronavirus
Build UK has issued an updated guidance document prepared by Wedlake Bell with the intention of making it more relevant to subcontactors (see here).
The Scottish Contractors Group (which is the name of Build UK in Scotland) is working on their own addendum/appendix to the Contractual Guidance to make it applicable for those who are using contracts under Scottish Law. The guidance is due to be available next week.
5: Companies House Accounts Filing
If you think the impact of COVID-19 will cause delays in filing your company accounts, you can apply for an automatic and immediate 3 month extension. You must apply before your filing deadline. Applications can be made here.
6: Bank Holidays and Furloughed Workers
In the absence of clarity from the Government about the treatment of bank holidays for workers on furlough, two approaches have been suggested. The two Easter Bank Holidays could be viewed as furlough days, paid as furlough days and included in the number of days counting towards the minimum furlough period of three weeks. In that case the two holiday days would be carried forward to be taken at a later date.
Alternatively, the employer could require employees to take the two Bank Holiday days and would then pay those days at the normal rate. These days would then not be included in the furlough period and two further days would have to pass before reaching the three week minimum.
Latest Statement from Government
Alok Sharma, Secretary of State for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, has written an open letter to everyone working in the UK construction sector.
It can be read in full here.
NASC Calls for “Essential” Clarity
The NASC is calling on Government to provide a clear definition of what qualifies as “essential” construction industry activities as a matter of urgency.
The NASC notes that the Site Operating Procedures – Protecting Your Workforce document, issued by the Construction Leadership Council in conjunction with Build UK, states “non-essential physical work that requires close contact between workers should not be carried out” but believes confusion surrounds what works are deemed essential.
NASC Managing Director Robin James said: “While the Site Operating Procedures document has provided a great deal of assistance for main contractors and subcontractors – including those in the access and scaffolding industry – this crucial recommendation is far too open to interpretation, leading to inconsistencies in approach from site to site.
“It’s time for the Government to provide clarity on this issue; helping to ensure that the appropriate balance is struck between keeping core industry activities in operation whilst also protecting the health and safety of thousands of employees, their families and the population of the UK as a whole.
“Until the Government takes action on this point, we are continuing to call on principal contractors to follow the Site Operating Procedures guidance, paying particular attention to PPE including provision, storage, and establishing single or multi use, welfare, hand washing and maintaining the 2m social distancing recommendation.”
27.03.2020 – 9.15am
CITB Suspends Levy Payments
The CITB has suspended the issue of its levy bills, due for payment in 2020, for an initial period of three months. The bills will subsequently be issued for the full year.
The reason for this is to provide immediate financial relief to construction employers during the present crisis, given the pressure they are under.
In normal times CITB assesses and sends out levy bills each April in accordance with legal requirements. CITB levy bills are usually due for payment in May, but CITB will not seek collection on the suspended bills until August, or later if possible.
Sarah Beale, CITB Chief Executive, said: “Everyone in construction is facing extreme pressure at the moment and it’s right that we provide financial relief where we can to protect employers and ensure that the industry is as prepared as possible for the economic recovery that will come when the crisis lifts.
“CITB is reviewing all of its work to respond to the changing skills needs of industry. We are continuing to re-evaluate our services, funding and grants to adapt them to meet industry’s changing priority needs.”
All levy bills, raised before 2020, should have been paid by this point. Employers in arrears should contact CITB to discuss payment options.
26.03.2020 – 3.15pm
Keep Safe on Your Commute
Click here for the latest tips and advice on keeping clean on the commute, on site and at home.
25.03.2020 – 12.17pm
Hardship fund launched to help most vulnerable households
For more click here.
25.03.2020 – 10am
NASC statement on covid-19
The NASC is advising access and scaffolding contractors to carry out detailed risk assessments of every project they are currently undertaking to determine whether to continue working on site.
While construction sites in Scotland have been instructed to close, the Government’s latest covid-19 restrictions, imposed on Monday evening, did not limit construction activities and as such sites in other parts of the UK can and are remaining open at this time.
However, the NASC believes that employee health and safety should be prioritised at all times and is aware of the risk of the spread of the virus between construction workers on site – including scaffolding operatives – their families and the wider community, which could put many lives in danger.
The NASC is therefore calling on scaffolding contractors to make detailed risk-based decisions on the amount of site-based activities they conduct.
This should take into account the staff that they have available, in particular identifying any in the “at risk category” along with the unique arrangements on individual sites, transportation (getting to and from sites) and the Site Operating Procedures – Protecting Your Workforce document issued by the Construction Leadership Council in conjunction with Build UK.
Given the nature of access and scaffolding work, it is entirely possible that safe working conditions cannot be maintained on many sites.
Should a scaffolding contractor subsequently choose to withdraw its operatives from site temporarily the NASC fully recognises this decision.
The NASC calls on main contractors / clients to recognise the right of access and scaffolding contractors to conclude that safe working is not possible and to withdraw their workers from site.
Emergency works required during this period should be considered on a case by case basis and in the light of recommended site operating procedures.
The NASC will continue to provide scaffolding industry-related coronavirus advice to all of its members and the wider scaffolding industry and repeat calls for the Government to provide more detailed advice to the construction sector.
24.03.2020 – 9.10am
Government Lock Down in Place… What Now?
The Government has imposed its strictest covid-19 measures to date. How do the latest restrictions on movements affect the construction industry?
There is currently no specific instruction to shut construction sites and so the NASC currently supports Build UK’s position, outlined here.
Companies that choose to close can access a range of support from the government, some of which is outlined here. Companies that choose to continue operating should follow these site operating procedures.
The NASC will continue to engage with government and partner bodies throughout the day and communicate latest guidance on this stream as soon as possible.
23.03.2020 – 3.49pm
NASC Covid-19 Resource Round Up
Following government announcements made at the end of last week, the support available to help businesses is becoming clearer. In many cases the details are still being put in place but the main things you should be looking at are as follows:
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – this will enable you to keep your workforce together rather than laying people off. Employees which you have no work for can be designated as “furloughed”.
Furloughed employees must go home and not work. HMRC will reimburse 80% of furloughed workers wage costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month, for three months. HMRC is working urgently to set up a system for reimbursement and have said that this will be in place by the end of April.
VAT payment deferral – businesses due to make a VAT payment between the 20th March and the 30th June do not have to make that payment. Returns should be made as usual but direct debit payments can be cancelled immediately. You don’t need to apply to anyone. The amounts deferred need not be paid over until March 2021.
Grant funding for small businesses – small businesses registered with the local authority for small business rate relief (with a rateable value of less than £15k) will automatically receive a grant of £10k from the local authority.
Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme – 40 accredited lenders are being supported by a government guarantee scheme to give loans to businesses which would not satisfy the normal lending criteria. The scheme includes no interest for 12 months, no fees and capital repayment holidays. To access the loans contact your normal bank. Phone lines are very busy but be persistent.
Further details of these schemes and more can be found here. The NASC will be following events and issuing more detailed guidance and support as it becomes available.
Cash Flow Forecasting
Good cash flow forecasting is vital to the success of any business, particularly in uncertain times. Many NASC members will carry out regular cash flow forecasts as part of their normal business operations, but for those which don’t the NASC has developed two spreadsheet frameworks designed to be easily adapted to suit individual businesses.
One is a higher level forecast (available here) designed to look at types of cash flow and the possible ups and down over several weeks or months. The other (available here) is a more detailed forecasting and operational tool, designed to be used week by week and to allow payments to be prioritised based on income received
Advice from Build UK
The update from Build UK today included the following:
You can help in a number of ways:
1. If your construction site is still operational, keep it going until we are told otherwise – our proposed Standard Operating Procedures on protecting the site workforce will be available this week.
2. Do your best to keep paying your supply chain and your staff, as well as holding on to your apprentices.
Let us know
Please keep the NASC in touch with your issues and concerns by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org this will enable us to research and report answers to the problems which NASC members are experiencing.
23.03.2020 – 09.36am
Build UK’s daily bulletin
Click here to read.
23.03.2020 – 09.27am
Practical business advice
Issued by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales (ICAEW). Click here to read.
23.03.2020 – 09.19am
MOTs for lorries, buses and trailers
Your lorry, bus or trailer will be exempt from needing an MOT for 3 months from 21 March 2020. You might need to apply for this, depending on your vehicle. For more click here.
20.03.2020 – 10.44am
Delaying Payments to HMRC
Advice issued by Moore Kingston Smith:
Obviously we are in new territory with everything now shutting down. In the absence of any information on time frames we have been reviewing the measures that the government has put in place, in the form of some type of support.
We believe, at the present time, the ‘time to pay’ is something all clients ought to be considering. We are encouraging our clients including charities to take advantage of this. In effect the government is allowing you to delay paying PAYE/NIC and VAT.
The key is to submit your payroll as you normally would, so the liability appears on their system. Once it does you can ask to defer the payment citing financial difficulties. They should allow you to do this with the view that you set up a monthly payment plan. You will need to ring back the following month to do the same for that month’s payroll and so on.
This should give you some breathing space to deal with the delay in receiving cash, while still having to meet your liabilities. We are already predicting a significant impact on our clients but we believe by working together, the sector should come out of this stronger.
We have had differing results from our clients in applying for the ‘time to pay’ from HMRC. The successful applicants seem to be those who have the payroll liability already recorded and have simply cited financial difficulties to enable HMRC to approve the ‘time’ to pay application. However, we acknowledge that, as always, who you get through to at HMRC will dictate the outcome of your call.
We have already had clients take advantage of this offer with positive results which has helped alleviate the stress of any future uncertainty.
Below, you can find our full update of government support and details of the phone number to ring. Our own Coronavirus Hub will also keep you updated as the government continues to make further announcements.
20.03.2020 – 9.57am
Complete AIF Survey Responding to Government Call for Feedback
The Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy is keen to receive feedback and input from the access industry sector regarding the challenges companies are facing and anticipating.
They are also keen to receive input from Access Industry Forum (AIF) members on “any current compliance / regulatory costs or requirements that could be temporarily relaxed to help industry during this current uncertain period?”
To provide a response please click here to complete a short survey that will contribute towards a work at height sector-wide viewpoint.
20.03.2020 – 09.49am
Construction Enquirer Daily Bulletin
Provides advice for businesses in Scotland and Wales. Click here to read it.
20.03.2020 – 09.47am
Build UK Daily Bulletin
Click here to read it.
20.03.2020 – 09.42am
Business support overview
Click here to read.
19.03.2020 – 14.25pm
Construction Manager bulletin
Featuring latest government advice and a cross construction industry response. Click here to read it.
19.03.2020 – 10.20am
NASC Information member issues Covid-19 toolkit
Click here to download Citation’s business toolkit.
19.03.2020 – 10.16am
Build UK’s daily coronavirus bulletin
Click here to read.
18.03.2020 – 15.55pm
CITB Issues Update
Click here to read.
18.03.2020 – 13.18pm
HR advice from NASC Information members
Click here to read Citation’s HR and Employment Affairs covid-19 Q&A document.
18.03.2020 – 12.55pm
NASC site audits postponed
The NASC board of Directors have confirmed that due to COVID-19 all NASC site audits due between 18 March – 30 April 2020 will be postponed with immediate effect.
All NASC full members affected will receive an extension to their membership certificate until end of May 2020.
Please note that members will still be required to complete the online part of their audit within the specified timescale.
New member application site audits will be postponed during this period too.
There is a need to remain fluid during these times and we will review again in early April and hope to be able to reschedule site audits then.
18.03.2020 – 12.12pm
News bulletins from Build UK and the Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity
18.03.2020 – 12.07pm
Statement from CISRS re training and CISRS card renewals
18.03.2020 – 12.05pm
Government package to help small business and the self-employed
NASC London & South East Vice-Chair, Michael Lloyd, is the Group Lead for the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) and has shared helpful information from the Government to aide small businesses during these uncertain times. For more information click here.
If you have any feedback or suggestions relating to this article please forward them to email@example.com
18.03.2020 – 12pm
Useful coronavirus links and scaffolding-specific Q&A
For advice and guidance posted on Tuesday 17 November please click here.