How to protect yourself from increases in material costs if there is ‘no deal’
The FMB recommends that members include the following wording in all new written quotations and contracts until we know the impact of Brexit on material prices:
“If there are any significant changes in the price of the work or any new taxes arising from the UK's withdrawal from the European Union then we will tell you what those charges are when we know, and ask how you want us to go ahead.”
If material prices do increase mid-project, members should put the new costs in writing to their client once they are confirmed, and obtain written agreement to any increases. The FMB is in the process of updating its written contracts to reflect the above. These are available in the members’ section of the website.
Launch of UK mark
The Government has launched the new UK Conformity Assessed (UKCA) mark which, subject to Parliamentary approval, will replace the CE marking for certain goods if the UK leaves the EU without an agreement. Details of when this will need to be used can be accessed here.
Guidance on the Construction Products Regulation
The Government has published guidance relating to the Construction Products Regulation (CPR) and how this will apply in the event of a 'no deal'. For those who are not aware, the CPR lays down harmonised rules (‘standards’) for the marking of construction products. Currently, standards are developed by European standardisation bodies that define the methods and the criteria for assessing the performance of the product in relation to its “essential characteristics”. The Government have now published an updated version of their guidance on the Construction Products Regulation. This now includes a list of frequently asked questions,
Additional information regarding UK product safety and metrology in a no-deal Brexit can also be found on the gov.uk website.
No deal guidance from HMRC
The HMRC has published a letter to UK businesses that trade with the EU, with details of important actions you need to take and changes to be aware of in the event of the UK leaving the EU without a deal. There are also important updates on the way businesses trading with the EU pay import VAT and use EU VAT IT systems if we leave with 'no deal'. You can read the full letter at Letters on 'no deal' Brexit advice for businesses only trading with the EU. HMRC has also announced that businesses will be able to use simplified declarations and postpone payment of duties under Transitional Simplified Procedures (TSP) if there is a 'no deal' Brexit (although there will be additional information needed for controlled goods). The measures will be reviewed after three to six months and businesses will be given 12 months’ notice if they are to be withdrawn.
HMRC has launched the EU Exit Import and Export Trader Helpline for traders and hauliers importing from/exporting to the EU after 31 October 2019. The helpline number is 0300 3301 331. Lines are open from 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday.
European Commission guidance on industrial products
The European Commission has published guidance to firms on the treatment of industrial products in the event of the UK leaving the EU without a withdrawal agreement. This covers a range of issues, including guidance for importers, the transfer of notified body certificates and accreditation, which are relevant to the construction industry.
INFORMATION ABOUT EXPORTING AND IMPORTING
HM Treasury and Department for International Trade has published the UK’s temporary tariff regime if we leave the EU without a deal. HMRC have also produced videos about trading with the EU in a no-deal Brexit. To make it easier to import goods from the EU in a no-deal Brexit, HMRC have produced guidance on delaying your declaration and paying important duties and VAT.
Funding has been made available for businesses that complete customs declarations and which need additional support for recruitment, training and IT improvements. You can also apply for grants to help you recruit staff to complete the customs declarations.
Information for businesses on data protection
In the event of a 'no deal', UK businesses will need to ensure they continue to be compliant with data protection law. For UK businesses that operate only within the UK there will be no immediate change. For UK businesses that operate internationally or exchange personal data with partners in other countries there may be changes that need to be made ahead of the UK leaving the EU to ensure minimal risk of disruption. It is important for businesses to review whether they would be affected. For those that would be affected, early action is advised as changes may take some time to implement. You can find further information on data protection in the context of a 'no deal' in the Government’s Technical Notice.
The Information Commissioner’s Officer has published information for small businesses regarding data protection in the event of a no-deal Brexit. On their website, you can find an interactive tool to help work out the type of contract you will need to maintain the free flow of personal data into the UK from the European Economic Area (EEA).
Try the ‘Business readiness tool’
The Government has published a tool to help you find out what your business will need to do to prepare for the UK leaving the EU. It asks you to answer some simple questions, which will then produce a list of Technical Notices, which should be of interest to your company.
Status of EU nationals working in the UK
Should the UK leave the EU without a deal, freedom of movement will end with immediate effect on 31st October 2019. Any EU national who entered the UK before the 31st October 2019 will be able to stay, deal or no deal, and should apply for ‘settled status’ (if they have been here for five years) or pre-settled status (fewer than five years) here by the 31st December 2020. Any EU national entering the UK after ‘Brexit Day’ will be able to stay for three months and will then need to apply for ‘European Temporary Leave to Remain’, which will allow EU nationals to live and work in the UK for three years. After this, they must leave or apply for a new visa under the future immigration system. The Government has published further details here.
Specific advice for firms based in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland
If your firm is based in Wales or Scotland, there are specific Government websites aimed at providing your firm with the latest Brexit-related information and guidance. See here for Wales and see here for Scotland. If your firm is based in Northern Ireland, there is a dedicated page on the Northern Ireland Assembly website that may be of interest.
For firms which move goods between Ireland and Northern Ireland, HMRC have produced guidance to help you find out the customs processes you will need to follow. This includes moving controlled and licenced goods, transitional simplified procedures and moving goods under transit.
They have also published information about how to export excise goods from Northern Ireland to Ireland in a no-deal Brexit.
Get ready for Brexit
The Government has launched a website dedicated to preparing businesses for Brexit. Respond to the one-minute quiz to find out what steps you can take now. Advice ranges from checking whether your employees have the right to work, to temporary tariffs on importing goods.
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has published a ‘sector primer’ which brings together on one webpage the top 3 – 5 issues for each sector, including construction and housing.
In other Brexit-related news…
Top 10 occupations in shortest supply in construction
Thanks to all those members who responded to the recent survey asking which roles you are currently struggling to recruit. Your feedback was collated alongside that of the wider industry and we are now able to point to the top ten construction occupations in shortest supply. In line with the FMB’s own independent research, these include bricklayers, carpenters, quantity surveyors and labourers. This information has been fed back to the Government and the Migration Advisory Committee so that if it chooses to make exceptions for particular roles as part of the post-Brexit immigration system, it will know which occupations our industry is particularly struggling to recruit.
If you have a question or comment on any of the above, then please contact [email protected] or call 0207 025 2947.