The Federation of Master Builders

Responding to coronavirus (COVID-19)

LAST UPDATED 18 May 2020 12:15

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

18.05.2020 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. An online eligibility checker will be available on their website this week and the scheme will open for online applications within the next seven days.

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.

13.05.2020 The Self-employment Income Support Scheme is now open.  Grants worth 80% of their profits up to a cap of £2,500 per month, for each self-employed worker.  

12.05.2020 Chancellor extends furlough scheme until October.  The government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will remain open until the end of October, the Chancellor announced today.

11.05.2020 Safer Working Guidance has just been published by the UK Government, for construction and for working in people’s homes. We have summarised the key points for builders in our Restarting building work: Guide for members.  

Talking to Government

The FMB sits on the Government’s Construction Industry Council 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.

Our letters:

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.

Read more

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)
  • 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.

Support in Scotland

The Scottish Government has produced specific Construction Sector Guidance coming into effect on 6 April 2020 until further notice. 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 available on 0300 303 0660, between 08:30 and 17:30, Monday to Friday. 

The FMB sits 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.

In Scotland the £100 million grant funds are now open to help protect self-employed people and SME businesses.  The most relevant for members will be the Pivotal Enterprise Resilience Fund. Recipients will receive funds in early May. 


A £100m emergency loan fund has been created to support SME housebuilders with liquidity issues due to the temporary closure of housebuilding sites.  Applications will open from 14:00 on Monday 18 May on the Scottish Government website and full details on the criteria for the Fund will be available then.  Applicants should be an SME housebuilder with a turnover of £45 million or less per year and building five or more homes per annum. They should only apply for funding that is necessary for the short term. They will be asked to explain why existing support mechanisms are not sufficient for their business. Loans are capped at £1 million, most loans are expected to be repaid within two years with interest rates set at 2%. The minimum loan amount is £50,000.

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 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 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.

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.

Protecting your business from crime

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