The Federation of Master Builders

Responding to coronavirus (COVID-19)

LAST UPDATED 15 July 2020 09:00

The coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is having a devastating impact on the construction industry and its workforce. The Federation of Master Builders (FMB) is here to support our members during this difficult and uncertain time.

Latest update

 

15.07.2020 The Scottish Government confirmed that from Wednesday 15 July, construction could move to Phase 4 of its restart plan.

03.07.2020 A new #WorkSafeSafeWork campaign, developed by TrustMark and supported by the whole construction industry, aims to build confidence among consumers that it’s safe to have home improvement work done post-lockdown. This follows guidance for builders and clients published by the FMB in May. Click here to view the short campaign video and to download the resources. 

Members are encouraged to display COVID-19 signage on building sites, and industry resources are available to download. The Government has prepared a COVID-19 Secure poster here and the Construction Industry Coronavirus Forum (CICV) have developed a ‘Restart Signage Pack’, which includes 20 downloadable documents from posters and checklists to fact sheets and stickers that can be personalised.

22.06.2020 In Scotland, from Monday 22nd June, construction can move to Phase 3 of its restart plan which involves a 'steady state' operation of construction activity.

05.06.2020 The Government has announced a delay in the implementation of reverse charge VAT for construction by five months to 1 March 2021. This is following a cross-industry campaign led by the FMB.

03.06.2020 The Construction Leadership Council has launched its industry recovery plan to restart, reset and reinvent UK construction. We will lead a workstream on support for the domestic repair maintenance and improvement market, with a focus on energy retrofit. In the devolved nations, discussions are underway on how the CLC plan will be applied.

29.05.2020
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will close to new applicants on 30 June, and employers must register any new staff they want to furlough by 10 June. From 1 July, businesses will be able to bring furloughed staff back part time.

13.05.2020 We have updated our Restarting building work: Guide for members with the latest on the return to work rules in your area and the steps you should consider if you are planning a return to work.

Working with Government

The FMB sits on the Government’s Construction Industry Council (CLC) Task Force, which meets daily to respond to the outbreak. We are speaking regularly with government departments, the devolved administrations, the No. 10 policy unit, and construction industry and business organisations to ensure our members’ concerns are being heard and action is taken. Current work includes:

RESTARTING BUILDING WORK: GUIDE FOR MEMBERS

See the latest on the return to work rules in your area and the steps to consider if you are planning a return to work.

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WE’RE HERE TO SUPPORT YOU

Apply to become a Master Builder to access advice helplines, guidance documents and member resources to help get your business back on track at this difficult time.

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SUPPORT FOR SMALL BUSINESSES AND THE SELF-EMPLOYED

Helplines

FMB members can make use of our advice services by calling the FMB helplines. Help is available with all legal, HR (including Statutory Sick Pay), health & safety and taxation issues. Log into the member area to access.

FMB guides for members

We have prepared downloadable guidance for our members. Log into the member area to download support on:

  • FMB Furlough Letter template (last updated 25 March 2020)
  • Impact of COVID-19 on current and future contracts (last updated 22 April 2020)
  • FMB template wording for letter to client (published 3 June 2020)
  • Overview of the financial support available from Government (last updated 30 April 2020)
  • Help for firms in financial difficulty

Webinars

We have launched a series of webinars for members. Log into the member area to watch the latest or register for the next one. 

FMB support for Directors of Limited Companies

Government support schemes

Builders cannot work from home, and for many FMB members, especially those working in domestic repair and maintenance, continuing to work on site is proving incompatible with public health guidance on social distancing. SME builders need immediate cashflow relief, including delaying taxation payments, support with wages, and grants.

To date, the Government has announced the following support, and have created a business support finder to see what support is available for you and your business.

  • Paying your employees - Coronavirus Job Retention SchemeGrants are for 80% of salary, up to a monthly ceiling of £2,500. The scheme will close to new applicants on 30 June, and employers must register any new staff they want to furlough by 10 June. From 1 July, businesses will be able to bring furloughed staff back part time.

From 1 August, the level of Government support for the scheme will be reduced, to reflect the hope that more people will be able to return to work. From August, employers will be expected to pay furloughed staff’s NICs and pension contributions.

In September, employers will be asked to pay 10% of salary, and the Government 70%; and in October the balance will shift to 20% from the employer and 60% from Government. The scheme is expected to close at the end of October.

Support in Scotland

The Scottish Government produced specific Construction Sector Guidance which came into effect on 6 April 2020 and was updated on 15 July allowing construction to move to Phase 4 of its restart plan.  Measures to support Scottish business have been announced, and further information can be found on the FindBusinessSupport website. A dedicated coronavirus helpline for business via Scottish Enterprise is available on 0300 303 0660, between 08:30 and 17:30, Monday to Friday. 

We sit on the Construction Industry Coronavirus (CICV) Forum which consists of the main construction trade and professional bodies. The forum engages directly with the Scottish Government on issues affecting members in the current crisis.

Support in Northern Ireland

The Northern Ireland Executive has launched a new NI Micro-business Hardship Fund to help Northern Ireland based micro-businesses unable to access other COVID-19 support measures. Department for the Economy (DfE) will make up to £40 million available through a fund.  An online eligibility checker will be available on their website week commencing 18 May 2020 and the scheme will open for online applications within the next seven days. 

Help available for businesses in Northern Ireland affected by coronavirus has been published. The NI Business Info phone number is 0800 181 4422, lines are open 08:30 to 17:00, Monday to Friday. 

 

Support in Wales

New regulations have been introduced by Welsh Government on 7 April 2020 that places a legal obligation on employers to take all “reasonable measures” to maintain the two metre physical distancing in the workplace. Supplementary guidance has also been produced that focusses on the legal test applied by the regulations to maintain physical distancing in a work setting.

General Support for Welsh businesses has been published. The Business Wales Helpline is 0300 060 3000, available between 08:30 and 17:30. 

Support on apprenticeships

The Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) have suspended levy bills for an initial period of three months.  They have also announced that they will bring forward grant payments for second and third year apprentice employers. 

The National Apprenticeship Service has published guidance for apprentices and employers regarding pausing apprenticeship training, and have made a helpline available for employers with specific queries available at 0800 150 600 or accessible via email.

If you are considering dismissing an apprentice or have concerns about managing training at this time, the Chairman of the Cross-Industry Construction Apprenticeship Task Force (CCATF) is available to help and talk you through the options. We encourage you to speak to the CCATF before taking any action, either by email [email protected] or by phone on 07860 286 384.

Further advice

We also recommend all members keep up to date with other advice on Coronavirus including:

What more should I do?

Keep up to date with personal and business advice via reputable sources such as those listed on this page:

The CITB Skills and Training Fund is now open to CITB-registered employers. The fund provides grants for training for the year ahead and has been expanded as a result of COVID-19 to support training that ensures business sustainability and staff retention. Employers with up to 49 staff can receive up to £5,000, and employers with up to 99 staff can receive up to £10,000. There is also a fund available for medium-sized businesses.

Builders can now also complete the CITB Site Safety Plus Health and Safety Awareness course online. The course is valid as part of the application process for a CSCS card. For more information, visit the CITB website.

Don’t forget to support your own workforce. The Construction Industry Helpline provides emotional and financial support to the construction community and their families and is available on 0345 605 1956.  

Think about business continuity. Some of the specific issues that may need looking into are delays to projects, and a slowdown of cashflow. Small businesses are being encouraged to request immediate payment on outstanding invoices and issue any payments for work done. 

Familiarise yourself with Government advice on cleaning in non-healthcare settings. 

If you or your staff are able to work from home read our guidance on working from home.

FMB members should join the FMB private Facebook group to get advice and support from other members.

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