The Government’s job retention scheme left many self-employed workers feeling neglected, isolated, and worried about their income. It was first announced on 20th March that only employed workers were entitled to be part of the furlough scheme. It wasn’t until 26th March that self-employed workers could breathe a sigh of relief knowing that the SEISS (Self-employment income support scheme) was to be launched, enabling the self-employed to claim a grant to cover wages lost during the coronavirus pandemic.
One of the hardest hit sectors during this time has been construction. With many building sites now open, but unable to operate effectively because of social distancing rules, many workers find themselves still unable to return to work. Therefore, they are more reliant than ever on the government backed furlough or grant schemes.
Details have been released by HM Revenue and Customs where it is estimated that almost 1.5 million construction workers are benefiting from the government backed schemes, and that those schemes will continue to run until the end of October. 680,000 of those are furloughed within the Coronavirus job retention scheme, whilst a further 800,000 are receiving grants from the self-employment income support scheme.
The chancellor of the exchequer, Rishi Sunak has stated: “The UK government is doing everything we can to protect jobs and businesses across the UK during the crisis. Our unprecedented job retention and self-employment support schemes have supported the livelihoods of millions and will help ensure our recovery is as swift as possible.”
Encouragingly, many major contractors and housebuilders have reopened, with the hope that their sales offices will follow swiftly behind. This will all be easier to manage if the government reassess social distancing rules. Other sectors will struggle to reopen if the current 2 metre social distancing rule doesn’t change. The Hospitality industry, restaurants and pubs are keen for the guidance to be reviewed, in line with many MPs requests to reduce the 2 metre rule to 1 metre.
What is clear, is that we are all having to get used to a new normal; our new way of working could well be here to stay, if not, at least for the next few months.
For all of our Plant Hire services click here.