COVID-19 25 March 2020


The following BMF COVID-19 bulletin, contains the following:

- Specific information for BMF members 
- UK Government advice, actions and announcements   

We have suspended BMF Business News whilst we are sending out our COVID-19 bulletins to members.

If you have any suggestions for further topics and information you want included and covered in these bulletins, please email richard.ellithorne@bmf.org.uk.

BMF COVID-19 online hub

In response to the COVID-19 situation, we have created an online hub of information for you to refer to. This sets out the BMF position and what we are doing for our members at this time. The page feature video updates, from John Newcomb CEO  that will be posted regularly along with the information many of our members have been wanting. There are also opportunities for you to share experiences and insight, so we can all work together to get the best outcomes we can during this time. 

To view the first BMF video briefing, visit the COVID-19 page by clicking here.

BMF members information

Construction Industry briefing

A briefing has been prepared on behalf of the UK construction sector to brief companies and individuals on the ongoing repercussions of the COVID-19 coronavirus for our sector and can be accessed here. (Members only) 

Guidance on operating a COVID-19 safe environment

The current guidance we have received from BEIS is that where it is impossible for people to work from home, for example on construction sites and in manufacturing operations, then assuming they are not displaying symptoms and do not need to self-isolate, they should go to work. However, firms and employees should observe the PHE guidance (e.g. social distancing, hand washing, minimising contact, enhanced cleaning routines) at all times, and if they are unable to do this, should consider whether operations should continue.

Guidance on Trading

We have produced a draft Guidance on Trading during this crisis which can be accessed here. (Members only)

Trades against the virus

Members of the BMF across the UK have joined forces to offer a united front in response to the COVID-19 crisis.

‘Trades Against The Virus’ has been set-up to give tradespeople a recognised route to support vulnerable people in need, using the extensive merchant network to help replenish stocks in food banks nationwide.

Branches large and small have already pledged their support for the scheme, the brainchild of Ray Stafford, the Managing Director of Williams & Co, a trade only plumbing and heating supplies merchant based in Fareham, Hampshire and covering the south east of England Bristol, Milton Keynes and Manchester.

Ray appealed to his trade body, the BMF, for help over the weekend to move the plan forward, and the response was immediate. 

To join this group please contact ray.stafford@williams.uk.com.

UK government actions and announcements:

1. On Tuesday 24 March, the government announced the suspension of enforcement of the gender pay gap reporting deadlines for this year (2019/2020)
- Normally, the Equality and Human Rights Commission has the power to investigate businesses with over 250 employees that fail to report their gender pay gap data
- This decision means that employers will no longer be expected to report on this data until further notice

2. On Monday 23 March, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a significant extension of social distancing requirements
- UK residents are only allowed to leave their home to shop for basic necessities on an infrequent basis; to carry out one form of exercise per day; for medical need or to provide care to a vulnerable person; or travel to and from work if absolutely necessary and this work cannot be done from home

3. On Monday 23 March, the government released guidance on how to access the new Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and Covid Corporate Financing Facility
- The new Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme is now available for applications. This scheme will help any viable business with a turnover of up to £45m to access government-backed finance of up to £5 million
- The Bank of England’s new lending facility for larger firms – the Covid Corporate Financing Facility – is also open to applications. The scheme is open to firms that can demonstrate that they were in sound financial health prior to the impact of coronavirus

4. On Saturday 21 March, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) announced a freeze on the publication of preliminary financial statements for at least two weeks
- The FCA is aware that the unprecedented impact of Covid19 has changed the ways in which companies report and plan
- The FCA, FRC and the PRA will shortly be announcing further measures to prepare appropriate disclosures and address practical challenges

5. On Saturday 21 March, the government updated its advice for businesses delivering goods and services abroad that have been impacted by the coronavirus outbreak
- The Department for International Trade can support businesses by providing assistance with customs authorities to ensure smooth clearance of their products; and offering advice on intellectual property and other issues with business continuity
- The guidance includes what financial support is available for businesses trading internationally

6. On Friday 20 March, the government announced that MOTs for lorries, buses and trailers are suspended for 3 months from 21 March
- In most cases, vehicles and trailers will be automatically issued a three-month exemption without any action required. However, it is advised to check which vehicle types require you to apply.

7. On Friday 20 March, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a significant expansion of support for business and workers  
- A new Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will be set up to help pay people’s wages
- Employers will be able to contact HMRC for a grant to cover most of the wages of their workforce who remain on payroll but are temporarily not working during the coronavirus outbreak
- Any employer in the country - small or large, charitable or non-profit - will be eligible for the scheme