The measures will end on 2 December going back into the tiered system on a local and a regional basis according to the latest data and trends.
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England’s Third National Lockdown Announced
The Prime Minister has announced a national lockdown and instructed people to stay at home to control the virus, protect the NHS and save lives. This drastic jump in cases has been attributed to the new variant of COVID-19, which our scientists have now confirmed is between 50 and 70% more transmissible.
The new lockdown will continue at least until mid-February and some restrictions will stay in place even longer as Michael Gove informed.
Chancellor announces one-off top-up grants for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses worth up to £9,000 per property to help businesses through to the Spring. £594 million discretionary fund also made available to support other impacted businesses
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced today (17 December) that the UK's furlough scheme will be extended for an extra month until the end of April 2021. Under the furlough scheme, employees placed on leave receive 80% of their pay, up to a maximum of £2,500 a month.Businesses will also be given until the end of March 2021 to access the Bounce Back Loan Scheme, Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, and the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme. These had been due to close at the end of January. This announcement comes ahead of the Budget, which the Chancellor has confirmed will take place on 3 March 2021. Further information can be found here.
Monday 9th November 12:00
"Due to the recent second wave of the COVID-19 coronavirus and the subsequent lockdown announced by the Prime Minister on Saturday (31/10/2020), BAFE have had to review the situation regarding refresher certificates and technician assessments. Although the announcement only applied to England, there are also different levels of restriction in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and therefore BAFE guidance will apply to the whole of the UK.
Restrictions in England will be in place until 02/12/2020 where the local and regional tiered system is currently planned to be reinstated. BAFE will be publish more information and guidance when appropriate.
Company Assessments and Annual Reviews
Certification Bodies will still be required to assess competence and BAFE Registered Companies are strongly advised to contact their Certification Body for their current policy. Further evidence of competency records and procedures may be requested, and assurances that the on-site/witness audit can be completed at the earliest opportunity once restrictions have been lifted (subject to local/regional restrictions). Companies applying for assessment, or currently in the process of being assessed, should also contact the Certification Body for their policies.
BAFE will endeavour to be flexible and reasonable about their respective Schemes’ requirements for continuity of Third Party Certification/BAFE Registration, where companies can demonstrate that they have taken all steps possible to comply with their Certification Bodies advice and procedures.
Fire Extinguisher Technician Assessments
Where fire extinguisher technician assessments are currently booked these can still take place subject to the assessment being conducted outside and where suitable safety measures are in place to protect both the technician and the BAFE assessor.
Where assessments must be cancelled, a revised assessment date must be agreed between the technician/registered company and the BAFE assessor before the end of the current lockdown period (02/12/2020). For clarity, the assessment itself does not have to take place during this period but arrangements must be made for the assessment to take place (preferably before the end of 2020). Where assessments have not yet been booked technicians should continue to liaise with their BAFE assessor to arrange a suitable time for the assessment to take place after the current lockdown conditions have eased (subject to local or regional restrictions).
Fire Extinguisher Technician Refresher Certificates
BAFE have considered the practicalities of requesting and insisting on receiving asbestos awareness and health and safety training during this time and have agreed that if online training cannot be accessed then a concession will be granted to the end of December 2020 (31/12/2020) when BAFE will review the situation at that time.
Exam refreshers should be maintained wherever possible. BAFE have written to the Chair of FSH/02 to request an amendment but any change could take up to 18 months to implement. Therefore, BAFE will accept verifiable online refresher subject to details of course content and pass criteria (minimum 75%), and each candidate must receive a certificate showing they have passed. Online refresher certificates will be accepted initially up to the end of January 2021 (31/01/2021), subject to UK Government lockdown restrictions.
Refreshers that were due on or before the commencement of the original official lockdown (16/03/2020) will be expected to have a current certificate. For those fire extinguisher technicians that were due to expire on or before 05/05/2020 (six months prior to current lockdown restrictions being implemented) and have not booked a refresher will be expected to sit the full exam. Technicians who had their refresher exam booked between 05/11/2020 and 02/12/2020 will be given until the 31/12/2020 to book another course/exam but this must take place before end of January (31/01/2021).
Fire Extinguisher Technicians whose exam or refresher is due in November 2020 will be expected to book their course in the normal way (subject to any further restrictions).
All exams and refreshers will be expected to be current on 01/01/2021"
Thursday 5 November 15:30
Mr Sunak said the scheme will pay up to 80% of a person's wage up to £2,500 a month. He told the Commons that the government will review the policy in January.
The chancellor said his intention was "to give businesses security through the winter".
"The security we are providing will protect millions of jobs," he added.
The furlough scheme subsidises the wages of people who cannot do their jobs, either because their workplace is closed, or because there is no longer enough work for them.
Mr Sunak said it would apply throughout the UK, saying the country had "a Treasury for the whole of the United Kingdom".
Saturday 31st October 19:25
Second national lockdown for England is announced to start from Thursday, 5th November 2020.
People must stay at home, with the following exceptions:
- Work (if you cannot work from home)
- Recreational exercise with one person from another household or your household
- To escape injury or harm
- To shop for food and essentials
- To provide care for vulnerable people as a volunteer
The Furlough scheme will be extended until December, with time limited measures from November 5.
Pubs, restaurants and non-essential retail must close.
Workplaces should stay open where people can't work from home in the constructing and manufacturing centres.
Schools, childcare, colleges and universities will stay open.
No shielding - but PM urges those who are clinically extremely vulnerable to minimise their contact with others.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveils three extra support measures for businesses.
Speaking in the House of Commons, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the expansion of the furlough replacement scheme with the government paying a larger share of workers’ wages to protect companies struggling with Covid-19 restrictions.
Thursday 3rd September 09:00
Government announces new Kickstart Scheme
The government has introduced a new Kickstart Scheme in Great Britain, a £2 billion fund to create hundreds of thousands of high-quality 6-month work placements aimed at those aged 16 to 24 who are on Universal Credit and are deemed to be at risk of long term unemployment.
Funding available for each job will cover 100% of the relevant National Minimum Wage for 25 hours a week, plus the associated employer National Insurance contributions and employer minimum automatic enrolment contributions.
- If you are an employer looking to create job placements for young people, check if you can apply for funding as part of the Kickstart Scheme.
- If you are considering becoming a representative for a group of employers, check what information you need to provide to apply for a grant through the Kickstart Scheme.
Find more guidance and promotional materials here.
Thursday 23rd July 14:30
Webinar: supporting SMEs impacted by the coronavirus
The FIA are members of the CBI and Ian Moore CEO of the FIA invites you to join him on a webinar delivered by a number financial experts on subjects such as the latest on coronavirus loan schemes and how they might evolve; how businesses should be managing debt and alternative finance options available to meet their needs; and the role of equity in finance for recovery and what businesses should be considering to support growth beyond the crisis.
To register for free register for this webinar, please follow the link below
Friday 16th July 14:30
Government Guidance - How to dispose of your business waste, including face coverings and PPE
- Provide extra bins for your staff and customers to throw away their waste face coverings and PPE used for social distancing, and any other additional waste, such as takeaway packaging and disposable tableware.
- Make sure that staff and customers do not put face coverings and PPE in a recycling bin as they cannot be recycled through conventional recycling facilities.
- Make sure bins are emptied often so they do not overflow and create litter.
- You can put used disposable face coverings and PPE in an ‘offensive waste’ collection (yellow bags with a black stripe), if you have one.
- Ask your waste contractor if there is anything else you need to do.
Friday 16th July 13:00
Government - Latest Updates on Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and Self-Employment Income Support Scheme
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS): A number of updates have been made to guidance on the CJRS:
- New guidance has been published on claiming for individuals who are paid through PAYE but not necessarily employees in employment law.
- Guidance on calculating how much you can claim has been updated with information on claim periods ending on or before 31 August 2020.
- Information has been added to clarify that employers can continue to claim for employees while they are serving a statutory notice period.
- Information has been added about the process HMRC is developing to recover overclaimed grant amounts through the tax system.
Self-Employment Income Support Scheme
The scheme is now closed for the first grant. The scheme allows you to claim a second and final taxable grant. You can make a claim for the second grant if you are eligible, even if you did not make a claim for the first grant. Find out more here.
A number of updates have been made to the scheme guidance:
- New guidance has been published if you have been overpaid, made a claim in error and were not eligible for the grant or would like to make a voluntary repayment.
- Guidance on how HMRC works out trading profits and non-trading income has been updated to include that losses are not included in your non-trading calculation.
- Guidance on how different circumstances affect the scheme has been updated to include what supporting evidence you may be asked for if having a new child affected the trading profits you reported for the tax year 2018 to 2019.
Working safely during coronavirus
- New guidance on organising outdoor sport and physical activity events has been added.
- Guidance for providers of out-of-school and holiday activities for children has been updated.
Providing apprenticeships during the coronavirus outbreak
Guidance has been updated to confirm that from 13 July 2020 providers can welcome back 19+ apprentices into educational settings, that the flexibility to suspend level 2 functional skills for level 2 apprentices has been extended, and to provide more information on support for redundant apprentices.
Wednesday 8th July 15:00
Rishi Sunak cuts Value Added Tax (VAT) and offers £1000 to businesses to bring employees back from furlough
The government will also pay firms a £1,000 bonus for every staff member kept on for three months when the furlough scheme ends in October.
He rejected calls to extend the furlough scheme beyond October, saying it would give people "false hope" that they will have a job to return to.
But he said he would "never accept unemployment as an inevitable outcome" of the pandemic.
Explaining how it will work, the chancellor said: "If you're an employer and you bring back someone who was furloughed - and continuously employ them through to January - we'll pay you a £1,000 bonus per employee.
"It's vital people aren't just returning for the sake of it - they need to be doing decent work.
"So for businesses to get the bonus, the employee must be paid at least £520 on average, in each month from November to the end of January - the equivalent of the lower earnings limit in National Insurance."
He carried on to tell told MPs he will cut VAT on food, accommodation and attractions from 20% to 5% from next Wednesday.
Wednesday 8th July 13:00
Rishi Sunak unveiled 'kickstart jobs scheme' for young people
Chancellor Rishi Sunak is announcing a £2bn "kickstart scheme" to create more jobs for young people, in a statement to MPs. It is part of an emergency package to prevent mass unemployment as coronavirus hits the UK economy. The fund will subsidise six-month work placements for people on Universal Credit aged between 16 and 24, who are at risk of long-term unemployment.
Wednesday 8th July 11:00
Survey Results - Impact of COVID-19 on the Fire Safety Industry
We have put together this survey addressed to fire industry professionals so that we can effectively gather the latest and most important information from you about how COVID-19 is currently affecting your organisation. This survey covered multiple topics, all relevant to the rapidly changing business and workforce environment and its answers will undoubtedly help companies begin to plan for the future. To all of the respondents who completed the survey. Your answers provided us crucial insights into the fire industry and we would like to thank you for the participation in the survey- Thank you!
As such this report aimed to look at the variety of impacts from COVID-19 and our thoughts on what this means for the industry in the short, medium and long term. Please click below to read the report.
Tuesday 23rd June 16:00
2m rule relaxed as lockdown continues to ease
Under the new guidance, the government wants people to keep 2m apart where they can. If not, to remain at least 1m apart while taking steps to reduce the risk of transmission.
Pubs, restaurants, hotels and hairdressers can open from 4 July in England, when social distancing rules will be eased. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said people should remain 2m apart where possible but a "one metre plus" rule would be introduced.
Good news for the fire industry as more customers will be re-opening such as theatres, cinemas, libraries, museums, theme parks and zoos are among other businesses that can also reopen.
What's more, two households in England will also be able to meet indoors and stay overnight - with social distancing.
For more information read more here
Thursday 11 June 14:00
Advice on staying secure during COVID-19
Guidance from the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure for businesses and insolvency officeholders on managing security risks during the pandemic. The CPNI has drawn together important security considerations for businesses in financial distress, including those in insolvency or administration, either directly or as a third party.
Monday 8th June 14:30
Business Secretary launches working groups to help unleash Britain's growth potential
Business Secretary Alok Sharma is creating 5 new business-focused groups to unleash Britain’s growth potential and create jobs, as part of the government’s plans to help the economy bounce back from the coronavirus pandemic. Focused on 5 key themes, each group will explore how business can work with government to deliver economic growth and jobs:
• The future of industry: How to accelerate business innovation and leverage private sector investment in research and development
• Green recovery: How to capture economic growth opportunities from the shift to net zero carbon emissions
• Backing new businesses: How to make the UK the best place in the world to start and scale a business
• Increasing opportunity: How to level up economic performance across the UK, including through skills and apprenticeships
• The UK open for business: How to win and retain more high value investment for the UK
The membership of the 5 working groups will be published in due course. There will also be an opportunity for other parties and individuals interested in this initiative to share written submissions with the Business Department.
Thursday 4th June 14:30
COVID-19 and entering or returning to the UK
From 8 June, there will be new rules in place for entering the UK because of coronavirus (COVID-19).
The rules are for residents and visitors. When these rules are in place, you will:
•need to provide your journey and contact details when you travel to the UK
•not be allowed to leave the place you’re staying for the first 14 days you’re in the UK except in very limited situations (known as ‘self-isolating’).
You do not need to complete the form or self-isolate if you’re travelling from Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man, and you were there for 14 days or more.
Some travellers, including some specific workers, will be exempt from new English border rules. These workers may need to show a letter from their company or the company they are coming to work for at the border. More details are available here. Similar rules may apply across Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
Friday 29th May 17:00
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has set out how employers will have to start sharing the cost of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
Rishi Sunak has announced that in June and July, the scheme will continue as before, with no employer contribution at all. In August, the taxpayer contribution to people’s wages will stay at 80%. Employers will be asked to pay National Insurance and employer pension contributions, which, for the average claim, account for just 5% of total employment costs.
Rishi Sunak said that by September, employers will have had the opportunity to make any necessary changes to their workplaces and business practices. In the final two months of this eight-month scheme, the government will ask employers to start paying towards people’s wages.
In September, taxpayers will pay 70% of the furlough grant, with employers contributing 10%. In October, taxpayers will pay 60%, and employers will contribute 20%.
The government also confirmed that the self-employment income scheme will be extended, with applications opening in August for a second and final grant. The final grant will work in the same way as the first did, it will be paid out in a single instalment covering three months’ worth of average monthly profits. The value of the final grant will be 70%, up to a total of £6,570.
Thursday 28th May 14:45
UK Government launches NHS Test and Trace service
From today, anyone who tests positive for coronavirus in England will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace and will need to share information about their recent interactions. This could include household members, people with whom they have been in direct contact, or within 2 metres for more than 15 minutes.
People identified as having been in close contact with someone who has a positive test must stay at home for 14 days, even if they do not have symptoms, to stop unknowingly spreading the virus.
If those in isolation develop symptoms, they can book a test at nhs.uk/coronavirus or by calling 119. If they test positive, they must continue to stay at home for 7 days or until their symptoms have passed. If they test negative, they must complete the 14-day isolation period. You can find further guidance here.
There is specific guidance on the NHS test and trace service for employers, business, workers and the self-employed which can be found here.
Wednesday 28th May 08:30
Business Support - Back to Business
In recent discussions with AXA Insurance, Ian Moore CEO of the FIA, has agreement for the FIA to share a range of guidance documents for businesses which are re-opening.
With positive signs that the current lockdown will gradually be relaxed, enclosed is a series of guides (specific to our industry) to help businesses returning to work and we hope that they will be of use to our members.
Wednesday 27nd May 14:30
Government introduces Coronvirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme
The UK Government’s Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme is now live on GOV.UK. If you’re an employer with fewer than 250 employees, you can now claim for Coronavirus-related Statutory Sick Pay (SSP).
You can also speak to your tax agent about making claims on your behalf.
The repayment will cover up to two weeks of the applicable rate of SSP. For more information on eligibility and how to make a claim please visit GOV.UK
For more information about this Coronavirus support measure, you can also sign-up to HMRC’s Statutory Sick Pay Scheme Webinar.
Friday 22nd May 13:00
Everyone in the United Kingdom with symptoms now eligible for coronavirus tests
The government has today announced that anyone with symptoms of coronavirus is now eligible to book a test, ahead of the rollout of the test and trace service.
The expansion in testing eligibility comes after all 4 UK Chief Medical Officers confirmed that anosmia has been added as a symptom of COVID-19. Anosmia is the loss of or a change in your normal sense of smell, and it can also affect your sense of taste.
This means people should self-isolate immediately if they have:
- a new, continuous cough
- a high temperature, or
- a loss of or change in their normal sense of smell or taste
All members of their household must also self-isolate according to current guidelines, unless the symptomatic individual receives a negative test result.
For more click here
Friday 15th May 07:33
COVID-19 Government support for UK businesses
Ian Moore, CEO of the FIA, has been working closely with the Government’s Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) on behalf of the FIA members on a number of issues, more recently the work has focused mainly on the business issues created by COVID-19; such as working safely during COVID-19 in offices, construction industry recovery plans, key worker status, training while on furlough etc
He states “BEIS have posted a lot of valuable guidance for businesses affected by Coronavirus but it is often lost amongst the barrage of information being issued. The FIA are trying to filter what is relevant to its members, so please keep looking in this area of our website as the information will undoubtedly be of interest to you. The latest updates from BEIS are as below”
- Now Open: Self-Employment Income Support Scheme
- Roadmap taskforces to plan how closed sectors can reopen safely
- Government to support businesses through Trade Credit Insurance guarantee
Thursday 14th May 12:00pm
SME COVID-19 Webinar Series for UK businesses
Ian Moore, CEO of the FIA, has been working closely with the Government’s Department of International Trade (DIT) on behalf of the FIA members for some time now; and given BREXIT and now COVID-19, this is more important than ever.
He states “DIT are doing their best to inform SME’s of their options in the current climate and they have just released a series of webinars that would be really useful to listen into – try to find the time as there is some really useful information on offer”
Free SME COVID-19 Webinars:
Tax Relief & Support for Small Businesses
Date: 19 May 2020
Time: 10:00 - 11:30
Enhance your Sales Tools
Date: 20 May 2020
Time: 14:00 - 15:30
Managing Supply Chain Disruptions
Date: 21 May 2020
Time: 10:00 - 11:30
Navigating HR & Employee Roadblocks
Date: 22 May 2020
Time: 10:00 - 11:30
Tuesday 12th May 12:30
UK furlough scheme extended by four months to October
Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that the UK scheme to pay wages of workers on leave because of coronavirus will be extended to October. Mr Sunak confirmed that employees will continue to receive 80% of their monthly wages up to £2,500. But he said the government will ask companies to "start sharing" the cost of the scheme from August.
Tuesday 12th May 12:15
Working safely during COVID-19 in offices and contact centres
The Government have published a document to help employers, employees and the self-employed in the UK understand how to work safely during the COVID-19 pandemic, keeping as many people as possible 2 metres apart from those they do not live with. We hope it gives you the freedom within a practical framework to think about what you need to do to continue, or restart, operations during the COVID-19 pandemic. We understand how important it is that you can work safely and support your workers’ health and wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic. We know that most office workers are not currently in the workplace, we hope this document will help those who are already working because they cannot work from home, as well as help other people, think about how to prepare for when office working returns. The government is clear that workers should not be forced into an unsafe workplace.
Wednesday 6th May 12:15
Rishi Sunak is getting ready to wind down COVID-19 job retention scheme by July
The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, has announced that the Government is preparing to wind down the coronavirus wage-subsidy scheme for workers from July as part of government plans to gradually remove lockdown measures.
The Covid-19 job retention scheme will be steadily scaled back as restrictions on business activity are lifted. Sunak told ITV News: “We are potentially spending as much on the furlough scheme as we do on the NHS for example. Now clearly that is not a sustainable situation." He promised there would be no cliff-edge when the scheme is wound down.
Tuesday 5th May 13:30
The majority of furloughed workers can take part in training with no hassle for employers
Furloughed employees are able to engage in training, as long as doing so does not provide services to, or generate revenue for, or on behalf of their company or a linked or associated company.
Where training is undertaken at the request of their employer, furloughed employees are entitled to be paid at least their appropriate national minimum wage.
In most cases, the furlough payment of 80% of an employee’s regular wage, up to the value of £2,500, will be sufficient to cover these training hours. However, if the time spent training exceeds the furlough payment, employers will need to pay the additional wages. Meaning that many employees can be trained with no hassle or paperwork.
Saturday 2 May 09:00
Can you offer coronavirus (COVID-19) support from your business?
The Government is looking for support from companies in a number of areas. Can you help?
Please use the link https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus-support-from-business to tell the Government how your business might be able to help with the response to coronavirus.
The support needed includes things like:
- medical testing equipment
- medical equipment design
- protective equipment for healthcare workers, such as masks, gowns and sanitiser
- hotel rooms
- transport and logistics, for moving goods or people
- manufacturing equipment
- warehouse or office space, for medical use or storage
- expertise or support on IT, manufacturing, construction, project management, procurement or engineering
- social care or childcare
Wednesday 27th April 09:30
Small firms are to get access to 100% taxpayer-backed loans after they raised concerns about slow access to existing coronavirus rescue schemes.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak told the House of Commons the scheme would start next week, offering firms loans up to £50,000 within days of applying.
It aims to unlock a backlog of credit checks by banks amid fears many small firms could fold before getting loans.
The scheme requires filling in a two-page self-certification form online.
Announcing the scheme in parliament, Sunak said small firms could apply for the new loans from high-street banks from as early as next Monday.
Thursday 23rd April 13:00
Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, announces free testing service for essential workers and people living with them.
'We can make it easier, faster and simpler for any essential worker in England who needs a test to get a test. From today employers of essential workers will be able to go gov.uk to get a test for any of their staff who need a test. From tomorrow any essential workers who need a test will be able to book an appointment on gov.uk themselves directly. This all applies to people living in essential workers households too who need a test. Those included as essential workers will be based on the list for schools and education set out on gov. uk the whole process will be free.'
Friday 17th April 08:00am
Housing Secretary and Mayors pledge to ensure necessary building safety improvements can continue
The FIA has been informed that The Housing Secretary, mayors and local leaders pledge, with a list of signatories, to ensure necessary building safety improvements can continue during the coronavirus pandemic. This will ensure the safety of those living in high-rise buildings with unsafe cladding or insufficient fire safety measures is prioritised.
The Government states:
Saving lives is our number one priority, which is why we have told people they must stay at home and help protect the NHS.
We know that for some residents, ongoing work to your buildings may feel like an unwelcome imposition at this difficult time.
But with more people staying at home than before, efforts to improve residents’ safety are as important as they have ever been.
That is why it is vital that buildings are made safe as quickly as possible. All residents deserve to be, and feel, safe in their own homes.
Making buildings safe, including remediating high-rise buildings with unsafe cladding, is a priority for all of us.
We are clear that building safety work should continue where it is safe to do so, in accordance with public health guidance and procedures put in place by the construction industry to protect the workforce and minimise the risk of spreading infection.
Workers safety and wellbeing must be taken seriously. They deserve our appreciation for continuing to support this essential work at this difficult time. Employers should ensure their workers on-site are able to follow this advice, and they should consider responsible arrangements for ensuring their workers can travel safely, such as through staggering site hours to reduce public transport use during peak periods.
Recent weeks have seen some employers leading the way in adapting their procedures to ensure this important work continues, such as by allocating decontamination areas on-site and by providing additional washing facilities to reduce the number of workers gathering together.
We hope those leading the remediation work can continue where it is safe to do so and that residents feel able to co-operate with any reasonable conditions that may be required for them to be safe.
We will continue to do all we can to support this important work and to support affected residents.
This pledge has been agreed by The Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP (Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government) and the following local leaders:
- Andy Burnham (Mayor of Greater Manchester)
- Dan Jarvis (Mayor of the Sheffield City Region)
- Peter John (Chair of London Councils)
- Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London)
- Steve Rotheram (Mayor of the Liverpool City Region)
- Andy Street (Mayor of the West Midlands)
Wednesday 15th April 11:30
The Minister for State for Security, the Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP has written to the Chairman and CEO of the FIA detailing his support for the fire safety industry through the challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic; and repeats his message that “The Government is grateful for the sector’s continuing efforts at this challenging time.”
Please read the letter below as it contains important information (and can be printed off and used as necessary) for those providing vital and essential support (products and services) to the fire and security industry and those helping to relieve pressure on the emergency services; the basis of which is to provide essential safety to people as they go about their daily lives.
Ian Moore, CEO of the FIA and Derek Gotts Chair of the FIA would like to thank our colleagues at the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) and the Home Office for their support in getting this important and clear message from the Minister.
Monday 6th April 13:00
COVID-19 A message from the Department of International Trade to support UK Exporters
Like all Government departments, the Department for International Trade (DIT) is committed to standing behind businesses and is asking businesses to do their best to stand behind their workers.
Apart from the Government’s well-publicised package of measures to help manage the impact of coronavirus (Covid-19) by offering financial support packages for businesses and support for employees' wages; the DIT, through UK Export Finance (UKEF), has expanded the scope of its Export Insurance Policy (EXIP) meaning UK businesses will now be eligible to secure export insurance cover to all major markets.
DIT ask you to visit the Business Support website for more information about these and additional measures, and for support available to your business. We are told their website will continue to be updated with the latest information.
Wednesday 1st April 10:00am
"I appreciate that when people are considering decisions about going to work one thing they want to know is am I doing the right thing.
Well, we've stressed that wherever possible people should work at home, now that's easier in some jobs, careers and professions than others but there are people who are going to work in construction, manufacturing and in food production and supply who are contributing to making sure that the broader health of the nation is maintained.
There’s clear guidance on the importance of social distancing if it is the case that any employee feels that for example their work in a call centre , which can often be vital to making sure that services are provided, is not consistent with the Public Health England or other social distancing guidelines I hope they get in touch with me and newspapers you're so that we can point to their employers the vital importance of making sure that people are kept safe at work. There are some roles which require people to work in the workplace in manufacturing and elsewhere, but social distancing rules should be followed wherever possible and no one should feel that they are unsafe at work. I would also say that trade unions have an important role to play here in making sure that employees are aware of their responsibilities and obligations as well."
Tuesday 31st March 16:30pm
Business Continuity Support from BSI
FIA CEO Ian Moore has just discussed the release of the below with Susan Revell, Standards Development Manager at BSI and would like to share the information, help and guidance offered by BSI:
“Following the outbreak of Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), BSI has examined how we can support the collective efforts to mitigate the risks to organizations, caused by this global health issue.
After careful consideration, we have made available 11 standards to help guide businesses during these uncertain times. These standards offer information and practical advice for businesses and individuals, to help organizations navigate the challenges and potential risks associated with the current global crisis.
In addition, BSI is partnering with the Emergency Planning College (EPC), part of the Cabinet Office Civil Contingencies Secretariat, to deliver a series of best practice webinars around business continuity and crisis management."
Webinars will be recorded and available to watch at a later date. To download the standards and sign up to webinars, Click Here >>>
Monday 30th March 14:30pm
This letter is confirmation of the status of a key worker as defined under HM Government guidelines and the confirmation of the right to travel to and deliver and/or work upon products and systems to support UK Fire & Rescue Service resilience. This confirmation from the Chair of the National Fire Chiefs Council states:
"Thank you for your email, as discussed last week, the NFCC certainly sees colleagues in the private sector helping to keep FRSs going during this time as key workers, taking into account government guidance that says those who can work from home should and as far as possible others should be applying social distancing and other protective measures. NFCC also believes that people working on vital fire safety measures such as the installation and maintenance of sprinklers, fire alarms, waking watch and other measures also constitute key workers with the provisions mentioned above. We have already discussed many of these matters with Home Office and MHCLG." Home Office colleagues are aware of this letter.
Roy Wilsher, Chair National Fire Chiefs Council
Saturday 28th March 13:30pm
Alok Sharma, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, states in the Government's daily coronavirus update on 28th March 2020 that:
“We have set out a detailed list of non-essential businesses that are required to close and I would like to thank those businesses for acting responsibly. We have also said that wherever possible people should work from home and very many people across the country have responded to that.
It is, however, the case that there are certain workplaces that you are not able to to work from home such as the manufacturing sector where you will be required to go into work. we have said that people should on those occasions look to go into work. However, it is also incumbent on employers to make sure that they follow the Public Health England guidelines and they keep their employees safe; and that certainly is what very many employers are doing. I have conversations every day with businesses and business representative groups and I understand from those conversations that they are indeed adapting and also making sure that works required there issuing their staff with PPE. But if there are instances that people feel that organisations and businesses are not behaving appropriately in terms of their duty of care and of course there are organisations like HSE (Heath, Safety and Environment) who should be informed.”
Available here (Quote starts 22:00-23:10)
Friday 27th March 14:00pm
In case you thought we had stopped updating you, we are still waiting for the Government to clarify the position on key workers. We continue to push for more information and will not get drawn into interpreting the guidelines as we only want to issue facts (not what we believe they mean) and we wish it was more useful to you.
You may have seen the news stories on construction sites which clearly is a very complex issue, which accounts for the mixed messages coming from Government in recent days (on one hand we have Nicola Sturgeon calling for sites to close and then Michael Gove arguing that they should remain open).
As there is no firm clear guidance and advice, some construction companies have decided they cannot wait any longer and made the decision to close for the foreseeable future (examples being Taylor Wimpey, Galliard, Travis Perkins); the frustration is clearly there in a number of sectors. As one source elegantly puts it “It would be incredibly dangerous for all construction sites to close, but it is also incredibly dangerous for all construction sites to remain open. It is not an issue with a binary solution.” And this is the same for all fire safety works.
The construction industry believes the list of critical activity that ought to continue for issues of public safety in the fire sector are:-
- Fire safety inspections
- The requirement for maintenance of fire protection systems and equipment to meet Fire Safety legislation – even if buildings are not occupied.
- The ongoing need for Fire risk assessments, both to meet legislation and new circumstances in buildings.
- Remedial work required to remove unsafe ACM cladding etc.
Friday 27th March 13:00pm
In other news, workers who have not taken all of their statutory annual leave entitlement due to COVID-19 will now be able to carry it over into the next 2 leave years, under measures introduced by Business Secretary Alok Sharma today (Friday 27 March).
Currently, almost all workers are entitled to 28 days holiday including bank holidays each year. However, most of this entitlement cannot be carried between leave years, meaning workers lose their holiday if they do not take it.
There is also an obligation on employers to ensure their workers take their statutory entitlement in any one year – failure to do so could result in a financial penalty.
The regulations will allow up to 4 weeks of unused leave to be carried into the next 2 leave years, easing the requirements on business to ensure that workers take the statutory amount of annual leave in any one year.
This will mean staff can continue working in the national effort against the coronavirus without losing out on annual leave entitlement.
Tuesday 24th March 13:30pm
FIA CEO Ian Moore adds “we have received hundreds of calls requesting clarification on what is meant by the Home Office statements. My first response is to be pragmatic about what you deem to be important under the title of Key Worker. Your health and the health of others is Key and the Government’s advice to cease travel as far as possible is the priority - this is why it is being discussed. Just because you work in the fire safety industry does not mean you are designated a Key Worker. It is also important to state that the FIA are not making any statements here and it is for you to interpret what the Government statement means when applied to you.
I do however, fully understand the need for clarity given the Prime Minister’s latest address on Monday 23rd at 20:30 and the restrictions it implies. I have sought further clarification and asked the question “Can we get the Home Office to confirm that fire risk assessment, fire alarm testing, maintenance and repair is classed as “essential” work and that the requirements of the Fire Safety Order still apply?” and expressed the importance so employers can make informed decisions on manpower allocation. Michael Gove MP has just stated that "construction in the open air” is to continue, as long as the 2-metre rule is observed, which undoubtedly needs to have fire safety input at all stages. We will update this website and soon as we receive a response from the Home Office”
Monday 23rd March. 12:00pm
“Security & fire safety personnel can play a vital role at this time of national challenge. People working in these sectors who are essential to national infrastructure are “Key Workers” for the purposes of the Government’s guidance on COVID-19”
James Brokenshire, Minister of State for Security at the Home Office
FIA CEO, Ian Moore has just been informed that James Brokenshire (Minister of State for Security at the Home Office) has extended the Key Worker status to all fire safety personnel actively working to improve public fire safety. Ian states “I hope this clarifies the position for our members which I know has been a major concern not only for the current position to do with the Coronavirus situation but also what could come next in the clampdown on unessential travel. A common-sense approach should be used on when to use the Key Worker status as there are many roles and situations that do not warrant its use.
Should you need any further clarification then please ring the FIA offices (all lines are manned) and we will attempt to answer your questions. Once again thanks to the Home Office for listening to my concerns (on behalf of the fire safety industry) and reacting to it.”
Monday 23rd March. 11:00am
“I have been inundated with calls and emails looking for clarity on this vital subject for our industry. Fire Engineers carry out a mission-critical job to not only fix but maintain fire systems and products such as extinguishers, fire alarms systems etc. We have real first-hand knowledge and evidence of the dangerous and potentially deadly effects that a lack of maintenance on fire systems can lead to; I don’t have to mention the implications if we were to have a major fire incident as a result of the fire safety equipment not working correctly.
In addition, many of our members are the only suppliers to the fire and rescue services who need their equipment to do their job efficiently and safely. Maybe they are covered under the fire and rescue service “support staff” section of the Public Safety section - maybe clarification is required here? Nonetheless, the above statement is a good start, for which I thank the Home Office for clarification; however, the FIA will continue to push for recognition of fire safety-related workers as Key Workers in a number of other key areas to ensure we maintain public fire safety”.
More details of Key Worker status.
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15 January 2021