Starting from when the first confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported in the UK, Tracker has created a timeline which highlights some of the issues and events that are affecting public sector suppliers in the UK.
10 May 2020
- The Prime Minister announced that from 13 May, people in England who “can’t work from home” will be “actively encouraged to go to work”, those that are due to return to work should still avoid public transport if possible because of social distancing. The government has says it is currently working on guidance for employers to make workplaces “Covid-secure”, companies should adhere to this. Many employers will need to stagger shifts, rethink how equipment is shared and plan safe walking routes for staff – in offices, on factory floors and at building sites.
- Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has stressed the “stay at home” message remains in place in Scotland.
7 May 2020
7 May is the deadline by which UK ministers must legally review the lockdown, as has been happening every three weeks. A representative from Downing Street has already said no changes will be made on this date.
6 May 2020
- UK becomes first country in Europe to pass 30,000 deaths.
- Prime Minister Boris Johnson signals that some lockdown measures could be eased week commencing 11 May 2020.
- The Guardian newspaper reports that:
“small UK businesses have secured more than 69,000 government-backed loans worth in excess of £2bn in the first 24 hours of the scheme’s launch.”
4 May 2020
BBC reports that Prime Minister Boris Johnson will reveal a “roadmap” out of lockdown on Sunday 10 May.
According to the news outlet, a draft government plan to ease anti-coronavirus restrictions “urges employers to minimise numbers using equipment, stagger shift times and maximise home working.”
3 May 2020
Speaking at the government’s daily coronavirus briefing, Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove said a “staged” easing of the lockdown would mean measures could be reintroduced to tackle “localised” outbreaks.
Mr Gove said consultations are under way with employers, trades unions and public health experts to ensure that people return to work in the “safest possible” environments and understand official guidance.
30 April 2020
Construction support service Interserve is using new social distancing technology. When workers on site are too close to each other, a detection tag will sound an alarm.
The personnel distancing systems (PDS) from specialist SiteZone Safety are currently being used by construction workers on the new NHS Nightingale Hospital in Birmingham to enforce the ‘two-metre rule’ during construction.
29 April 2020
Environment Secretary George Eustice has acknowledged the government focused more on the NHS than care homes in the early stages of the outbreak.
This comes as the Guardian newspaper reports that “the NHS procurement system had taken time to set up to serve 15,000 care homes.”
29 April 2020
Construction News reports that:
“HMRC has postponed its current consultation on potential abuse of the Construction Industry Scheme tax system. The consultation had been due to close on 28 May but has now been held open until 28 August to allow businesses affected by the current crisis more time to respond.”
28 April 2020
Health Secretary Nick Hancock has announced that construction workers with coronavirus symptoms can gain access to free testing.
All construction workers and their families will be offered tests as the UK’s testing capacity has been extended to 73,000 per day.
27 April 2020
- UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson returned to work on the 27 April 2020, resuming full-time duties after a fortnight recovering from coronavirus.
- The Guardian newspaper confirms that more than 3 million people around the world are now confirmed to have been infected with Covid-19 since it first emerged in Wuhan, China, in late December 2020.
- The Chancellor of the Exchequer has announced a new 100% government backed loan scheme for small business. On the government website, it states that “businesses will be able to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000 and access the cash within days.” These loans will be interest free for the first 12 months, and businesses can apply online.
23 April 2020
- Construction Online reports that Highways England reassured the construction industry that despite the disruption and site closures, roads procurement on a number of large schemes is still powering through.”
- The online publication also gave details on the Scottish Futures Trust Initiative:
“The Scottish Futures Trust (SFT) has helped to generate £200 million-worth of construction projects in the last year. SFT will also continue to be a vital helping hand for the Scottish construction industry to make its recovery from the impact of Coronavirus.”
20 April 2020
The Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme went live to on 20 April 2020. Employers can now go online to claim cash grants worth up to 80% of wages, capped at £2,500 a month per worker.
The scheme, which was meant to stop at the end of May, has been extended for a further month until the end of June, to reflect continuing COVID-19 lockdown measures.
15 April 2020
The Government gives formal approval for HS2 to initiate the construction phase.
14 April 2020
Delta eSourcing gives details to suppliers on the government’s G-Cloud framework:
“The G-Cloud 11 framework has been extended due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, while applications to the G-Cloud 12 framework opened on 3 March 2020. Public sector organisations can carry out quick procurement through G-Cloud during the pandemic period, one of the reasons why this framework is so essential during this time.”
If you are a G-Cloud 11 supplier, you will still need to apply to G-Cloud 12 by 20 July 2020, as all G-Cloud 11 services will be removed once G-Cloud 12 services are live.
9 April 2020
- Glenigan confirmed that “3,000 on-site projects have been impacted by COVID-19”, with work halting on 29% of UK construction sites at the beginning of April 2019.
- The Scottish government released a new Construction Policy Note (CPN) 1/2020which complements Scottish Procurement Policy Notes 4/2020 and 5/2020.
The Policy Note stated:
“Scottish Government’s objective for the construction sector during the COVID-19 pandemic is to help ensure that Scotland as a whole takes a responsible approach to the containment of COVID-19 while being in a position to respond to both critical and longer term recovery requirements.”
31 March 2020
The UK government writes to the construction industry regarding working from home and travelling to work:
“The Government has advised that, wherever possible, people should work at home. However, we know that for many people working in construction their job requires them to travel to their place of work, and they can continue to do so. This is consistent with the Chief Medical Officer’s advice.”
30 March 2020
- Building reports that construction firms Kier, Bam and Wates have restarted work on their sites.
- Glenigan reports that “1,924 sites, involving £89billion of construction work” have been closed.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock gave an update during the government briefing on the coronavirus crisis, insisting that construction workers could and should continue to go to work, but must always remain two metres apart.
23 March 2020
- Prime Minister Boris Johnston orders Coronavirus lockdown.
- The UK Housing Minister, Robert Jenrick, reaches out to the UK construction industry via his Twitter account:
“If you can work from home, do so. If you are working on site, you can continue to do so. But follow Public Sector Health England Guidance on social distancing.”
20 March 2020
- Schools across the UK begin to close due to the coronavirus pandemic.
- Glenigan reports that although many construction products are manufactured in the UK:
“A high proportion of some materials, such as timber and M&E components are imported, which could lead to disruption on some projects.”
18 March 2020
The UK Cabinet Office released a Procurement Policy Note (PPN) giving information and guidance on the public procurement regulations in response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
17 March 2020
- The EU implements border closures imposed for 30 days
- The Construction Enquirer reports that:
“The construction industry’s leaders have urged the Prime Minister to keep construction sites open for as long as responsibly justified during the coronavirus outbreak.”
16 March 2020
- Prime Minister Boris Johnson warns that people living in the UK should avoid non-essential contact.
- On this day, the government made a call for businesses to help make NHS ventilators. The government stated that they wanted to work with businesses that can support the production and supply of ventilators and ventilator components.
11 March 2020
Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak delivered his inaugural UK budget in the House of Commons on 11 March 2020.
The Chancellor himself said that the Budget “holds one of the most comprehensive economic responses to this outbreak anywhere in the world.”
He also acknowledged that the UK economy would be temporarily disrupted by the virus, with up to one fifth of the UK population possibly being off work at any one time. He announced that the government would provide a £30 billion fiscal stimulus to support the NHS, people, jobs, welfare, and the economy in this period of Coronavirus. This included £7 billion for businesses and families and £5 billion for the NHS. Mr Sunak announced the following measures:
- Funding into additional research and additional staffing on top of the £6 billion of new funding to provide 50,000 more nurses, 40 new hospitals and 50 million more GP appointments that the government has introduced. While no exact figure was given for extra funding resources for Coronavirus, Mr Sunak was clear in his statement: “whatever it needs, whatever it costs, we stand behind our NHS.”
- A new £500 million Hardship Fund to be distributed to local authorities to directly support vulnerable people in their local area.
- Several measures were put in place to directly support small businesses which are particularly likely to struggle economically when affected by Coronavirus.
- The Government introduced a £3,000 cash grant available to 700,000 of the smallest businesses, paid by local authorities, which is worth a total of £2 billion.
- Abolishing business rates altogether for this year for small firms in England whose rateable values are below £51,000, a tax cut worth a total of £1 billion.
- Statutory sick pay for businesses with less than 250 employees (SMEs) to be refunded by the Government in full for up to 14 days per employee.
- The launch of a new Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme enabling banks to offer loans of up to £1.2 million to support SMEs.
Tracker reviews the latest government spending plans under the newly elected Conservative government.
6 March 2020
The first death from Coronavirus in the UK was reported.
24 February 2020
BBC News reports that the global financial markets “saw some of the sharpest falls in years… after a rise in Coronavirus cases renewed fears about economic slowdown.”
The UK’s FTSE 100 share index closed 3.3% lower, the sharpest drop since January 2016.
31 January 2020
BBC News reported the first confirmed cases of COVID–19 in the UK.
This blog will be updated regularly. All information provided in this article is given in good faith. However, to the extent that any actions are taken in relation to matters concerning procurement, the above article does not constitute legal advice to you. The contents of these articles are not to be construed as legal advice or a substitute for such advice, which you should obtain from your own legal advisors if required. We are not and shall not be held responsible for anything done or not done by you as a result of the information provided.