Industry bodies clarify position on construction practices

Alan Wilson

THE new Construction Industry Coronavirus (CICV) Forum has issued new guidance for Scottish construction firms to provide clarity following advice from First Minister Nicola Sturgeon that all building sites with the exception of hospital work should close.

The group, made up of 16 industry bodies, has attempted to end the uncertainty around which works can be undertaken.

Spurred by concern about conflicting messages from the UK Government, the CICV has issued guidance and drafted an explanatory letter which can be issued to customers.

The action follows an appeal by the group to the Scottish Government to help with cash flow and protect jobs during these unprecedented times.

The Forum is recommending to its members that they:

  • Follow the First Minister’s advice about closing non-essential building sites
  • Only carry out required repair and maintenance or any emergency work until further notice
  • Suspend other work such as building extensions, installing kitchens and bathroom suites or rewiring properties etc in the meantime.

The CICV’s members include SELECT, the Scottish and Northern Ireland Plumbers’ Federation (SNIPEF), the Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA – Scotland), the Lift and Escalator Industry Association, the Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) Scotland, the Scottish Building Federation (SBF), the Federation of Master Builders, the Scaffolding Association, the Stone Federationthe National Federation of Roofing Contractors, the Electrical Distributors’ Association, the Builders Merchants Federation, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), the Scottish Contractors Group and the British Constructional Steelwork Association.

Fiona Hodgson, chief executive of SNIPEF said, “This is a valuable response to a rapidly evolving situation. The mixed messages from government had created significant uncertainty and we hope that this new guidance will help employers, employees and customers to know where they stand.”

Vaughan Hart, MD of the SBF added, “It is of the utmost importance in these uncertain times to have the parameters clearly defined. The CICV Forum guidance makes it clear that, with the exception of sites classified by the First Minister as being essential, only repair and maintenance of an emergency nature should be undertaken in the construction industry.”

Gordon Nelson, director of FMB Scotland commented, “The conflicting messages were leaving contractors in the dark and the most important thing we need from those in charge during this period of uncertainty is clarity.”

Grahame Barn, chief executive of CECA Scotland added, “We were in danger of damaging confusion around what is regarded as safety critical infrastructure work. This new guidance puts us in a position from which we can plan and move forward.”

SELECT MD Alan Wilson represented the Forum in a meeting this week with Fiona Hyslop, Secretary for Economy, Fair Work and Culture, during which he pressed for greater clarity on how the current working practices will affect tradespeople across Scotland.

The Forum has also set up two working groups to deal with employment issues, led by Vaughan Hart, and a commercial group led by  Fiona Hodgson.