COVID-19

In a continuously evolving political and policy environment, we are continuing to work with our members to understand your issues, represent your concerns to Government and in the media and do what we can to support you. 

You can find out about our Covid-19 work in our BPF weekly update. If you are a member and do not receive our weekly update and would like to, please let us know here. 

Please do let us know if there are issues relating to Covid-19 or otherwise that we should be addressing, or we can support you. All staff are contactable either by email or by phone or contact us here. 

Support to Members

In a continuously  evolving political and policy environment, we are continuing to work with our members to understand your issues, represent your concerns to Government and in the media and do what we can to support you.

We have set up a dedicated coronavirus task force and are also using our existing committee network to identify and address the wide range of issues impacting on all parts of the sector.

You can find out about our  Covid-19 work in  our BPF weekly update. If you are a member and do not receive our weekly update and would like to, please let us know here.

Please do let us know if there are issues relating to Covid-19 or otherwise that we should be addressing, or we can support you. All staff are contactable either by email or by phone or contact us here.

Resources

Further to the requirements of the NHS and associated organisations to occupy new premises on a short term basis to help fight against Covid-19, we have, with the help of our members, produced a template Licence to Occupy that can be used by relevant parties to coordinate and agree the short term occupation of commercial properties. Download the template here. 

Support for Business

The Government has since March 2020 maintained a package of support for business . We provide some details below, but information and advice from Government can change quickly. For all the latest Government information, please visit the UK Government website, the Scottish Government website, the Welsh Government website or the Northern Irish Government website, or access the latest BEIS newsletter for business here. 

Extra advice can be found on the Government's dedicated Business Support website and a helpline 0300 456 3565, the Government’s summary page on financial support for businesses, and UK Finance has a dedicated coronavirus webhub here. There is a quick guide to what support you might be able to access here. 


Roadmap out of lockdwon

A four step plan to ease lockdown in England has been published here.

Traveltowork
The Government has published guidance for passengers on public transport use.

Transport for London (TfL) has published travel advice and the busiest tube and rail stations to avoid during peak hours.

Health and Safety 
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is working closely with the Department of Health & Social Care (DHSC) and Public Health England (PHE) and the HSE website has the latest guidance and information for employers and employees. You can get the latest news and updates from HSE by subscribing to their eBulletins here.

The Government has  also developed guidance specifically for employers and businesses on working safely during coronavirus. 

The Government has given the HSE a critical role in regulating social distancing in the workplace. The HSE has issued a statement on how it will approach that task.

Vat and Tax
For all businesses, Q1 VAT payments have been deferred. Businesses will have until April 2021 to pay this back, easing cash flow immediately. Self-assessment payments are also deferred until January 2021.

All businesses that have outstanding tax liabilities as a result of cashflow issues should contact HMRC and can request extra help through HMRC’s Time to Pay system.

Business rates 
For retail, leisure and hospitality businesses, the Business Rates retail discount in England has been raised to 100% for the 12 months of the tax year 2020-21, and properties that have a rateable value of below £51,000 will also be eligible for a grant of up to £25,000 distributed by local authorities (see ‘Government loans and grants’).   

As announced at the Budget on 3 March 2021 by the Chancellor, the government will continue to provide eligible retail, hospitality and leisure properties in England with 100% business rates relief from 1 April 2021 to 30 June 2021. This will be followed by 66% business rates relief for the period from 1 July 2021 to 31 March 2022, capped at £2 million per business for properties that were required to be closed on 5 January 2021, or £105,000 per business for other eligible properties.  

Government loans and grants 
The Bank of England has a new scheme to buy short-term debt from large businesses with an investment grade credit rating experiencing severe short-term disruption to cashflows – the Covid Corporate Financing Facility. Companies that need £5m or more will be able to contact their existing bank to request more details. Information can be found here. 

Small firms (up to £45m in turnover) are able to apply for the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) a funding facility of up to £5m with no interest payable for the first 12 months. CBILS offers firms funding for up to 6 years through an overdraft, a term loan, invoice finance, or asset finance. 

Larger businesses with a turnover of more than £45m are able to apply for the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS) providing a funding facility of up to £50m depending on turnover. Full details of both schemes are available from the British Business Bank here. 

All businesses in receipt of Small Business Rates relief and Rural Rates Relief are also eligible to receive a £10,000 cash grant. Eligible businesses in England in receipt of the Expanded Retail Discount with a rateable value of less than £51,000, will be eligible for cash grants through the Retail, Hospitality, and Leisure Grant scheme of up to £25,000 per property. These are distributed through Local Authorities. See full details of the grants here.

Businesses are able to access the Bounce Back Loan Scheme, Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, and the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme until the end of March. 

For employers 
All businesses are eligible to receive grants from the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (the furlough scheme) to cover up to 80% of the salaries of workers (up to £2,500 per month) that a business has to furlough as a result of coronavirus. The Chancellor has announced an extension of the furlough scheme to the end of September 2021.  

Employers will be expected to pay 10% towards the hours their staff do not work in July, increasing to 20% in August and September, as the economy reopens.  

Government support for self-employed people has also been extended until September.  

For Universities 
The Department for Education (DfE) issued guidance to universities on key worker status alongside a template authorisation letter which can be given to staff. DfE has clarified that universities can also provide staff employed by private PBSA providers with these authorisation letters.

Commercial tenancies 
The Government has introduced emergency legislation through the Coronavirus Act 2020 to ban evictions for commercial tenants until the end of June 2021. The Government has also published a Code of Practice to support negotiations between commercial landlords and tenants on rent payments impacted by Covid-19. 

Residential 
The Government has published guidance for residential landlords and tenants:  

  • Measures relating to notices seeking possession as amended by the Coronavirus Act 2020;   
  • Court action on possession cases during the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak; and  
  • Property access and health and safety obligations in the context of coronavirus (Covid-19) restrictions, including the conduct of gas and electrical checks. 

Government has also published guidance to advise local authorities in England how to go about their duties during the Covid-19 outbreak.    

These guidance documents are available here. 

Guidance has also been issued for those affected by building remediation issues, waking watches, etc: here. 

Construction

Much of our work on the impact of Covid-19 on construction is being done in partnership with a coalition of organisations supporting the Construction Leadership Council. It has published a range of useful support documents, including: 

To assist the construction sector make up lost productivity due to social distancing the Government is also allowing longer working hours on construction sites and has issued guidanceon how to make use of this. 

There are a range of other Construction Leadership Council workstreams relevant to Covid-19: 

Planning 
The government has given local authorities in England temporary powers to hold public meetings virtually by video or telephone conferencing from 4 April. The Planning Inspectorate has published an update on its work during the coronavirus pandemic.

We have submitted proposals to government for a range of planning easements designed to maintain momentum in the planning process.


RETURNING TO WORK 

Returning to workplaces will involve a significant amount of planning to ensure that buildings, employees and members of the public feel safe. Physical checks may be required, but also good communication and planning so that employees know what to expect and have the confidence to return to their normal place of work. 

The following resources provide guidance on a range of topics, some cover a lot of ground and provide a good range of topics to consider. Others are more targeted at particular physical checks and preparations. 

Our thanks go to all who have contributed the papers and guides on this page. These include various trade associations involved in the Construction Industry Task Force of the Construction Leadership Council. 

GENERAL GUIDANCE 

Guidance to help employers, employees and the self-employed understand how to work safely during the coronavirus pandemic: The government, in consultation with industry, has produced guidance to help ensure workplaces are as safe as possible. These fourteen guides cover a range of different types of work. Many businesses operate more than one type of workplace, such as an office, factory and fleet of vehicles. You may need to use more than one of these guides as you think through what you need to do to keep people safe. 

Recovery Readiness – How to Guide - Cushman and Wakefield  

Ensuring the safety of Building Water Systems - Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering and Construction Industry Council 

ECA guide to reoccupying Buildings – Electrical Contractors’ Association 

Response Roadmap – CBRE 

Government working safely guidance: Toolkits.  

OFFICES 

The Safe Six Checklist - Cushman and Wakefield 

TRAVELTfL’s guidance for businesses.