Covid-19 update 13.05.2020


Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has pledged to ‘keep Britain building’ as a boost to the country’s economy at today’s Downing Street press conference.

He announced a series of measures to unlock the housing market, including:

  • allowing builders to agree more flexible construction site working hours up to 9pm at night Monday to Saturday with their local council, which would involve staggering builders’ arrival times, easing pressure on public transport
  • enabling local councils and developers to publicise planning applications through social media instead of having to rely on posters and leaflets, helping to unblock the service
  • support for smaller developers by allowing them to defer payments to local councils, helping those struggling with their cash flow while ensuring communities still receive funding towards local infrastructure in the longer term
  • Kickstarting the planning system by encouraging it to make greater use of digital technology and insisting on virtual hearings of planning applications within weeks to ensure the planning system can resume

The Housing Secretary said the housing market reboot was essential for a vibrant housing market and critical for the government’s planned “first homes programme” later this year, which will offer a 30% discount for key workers.

He added that more than 100 organisations had already signed up to a new Charter launched by the government and the Home Builders Federation, which helps construction sites reopen in line with latest health and safety guidance.

“This is the most comprehensive restarting of an industry in first phase of our roadmap,” he said.

“History tells us that in every economic recovery in modern British life the housing market has been key to recovery and revival.

“As Housing Secretary, I will do everything I can to support the millions of people employed in construction and housing in order to help the sector bounce back while prioritising their safety and wellbeing.

“Today we reopen, restart and renew the housing marketing and construction industry to protect live, save jobs and begin rebuilding our industry.”

In addition, from today (13 May) anyone in England can move home if they follow new guidance.


Roadmap taskforces to plan how closed sectors can reopen safely

Five new ministerial-led taskforces have been set up to develop plans for how and when closed sectors can reopen safely, following publication of the UK’s roadmap to rebuild Britain. Each taskforce will lead on developing new COVID-19 secure guidelines for the reopening of public places and businesses, where and when it is safe to do so. The taskforces will look at the following sectors:

  • pubs and restaurants
  • non-essential retail
  • recreation and leisure, including tourism, culture and heritage, libraries, entertainment and sport
  • places of worship, including faith, community and public buildings
  • international aviation, reflecting the unique challenges that sector is facing.

As part of the science-led approach, each taskforce will work across government and engage with key stakeholders in public health, industry, trade unions and devolved administrations to:

  • ensure that COVID-19 secure guidelines are developed in line with the phased approach and public health directions, building on the existing guidance and providing intelligence and sector-specific expert input
  • agree and ensure alignment of all relevant sectoral guidance
  • provide key sector stakeholders direct access to ministers to shape the guidance.

More information is available here.


Government to support businesses through Trade Credit Insurance guarantee

Businesses with supply chains which rely on Trade Credit Insurance and who are experiencing difficulties maintaining cover due to Coronavirus will get support from the government, the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, John Glen has announced.

Trade Credit Insurance provides cover to hundreds of thousands of business to business transactions, particularly in non-service sectors, such as manufacturing and construction. It insures suppliers selling goods against the company they are selling to defaulting on payment, giving businesses the confidence to trade with one another.

But due to coronavirus and businesses struggling to pay bills, they risk having credit insurance withdrawn, or premiums increasing to unaffordable levels.

To prevent this from happening, the government will temporarily guarantee business-to-business transactions currently supported by Trade Credit Insurance, ensuring the majority of insurance coverage will be maintained across the market.


The guarantee will be delivered through a temporary reinsurance agreement with insurers currently operating in the market. More details are available here.

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