© Nigel Rigden

RIAS Business and Practice Bulletin

Updated 3rd December 2020

The RIAS is compiling information for members and will post regular details to support you in accessing information.

Government guidance:

Scottish Government:

View the latest Coronavirus (COVID-19): daily data for Scotland here and the latest Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance for Scotland here.

UK Government:

All guidance, information and announcements can be found at GOV.UK. Organisations should pay particular attention to the guidance for employees, employers and businesses which is being updated regularly with the latest advice.

Pay VAT deferred due to COVID-19

You can pay now or get ready to opt in to the VAT deferral new payment scheme. If you deferred VAT between 20 March and 30 June 2020 and still have payments to make, you can:

  • pay the deferred VAT in full on or before 31 March 2021;
  • opt in to the VAT deferral new payment scheme when it launches in 2021;
  • contact HMRC if you need more help to pay.

Check how you can pay your deferred VAT.

If you want to opt in to the new payment scheme: You cannot opt in yet. The online opt in process will be available in early 2021. You must opt in yourself; your agent cannot do this for you.

Instead of paying the full amount by the end of March 2021, you can make up to 11 smaller monthly instalments, interest free. All instalments must be paid by the end of March 2022. For more on the opt in paying system check the UK gov website guidance here.

Additional Guidance & Resources:

Updated 29th September 2020

Self-employment income support scheme

The SEISS Grant Extension provides critical support to the self-employed. The grant will be limited to self-employed individuals who are currently eligible for the SEISS and are actively continuing to trade but are facing reduced demand due to COVID-19. The extension will provide two grants and will last for six months from November 2020 to April 2021. Grants will be paid in two lump sum instalments each covering a three-month period.

[Further information]

Coronavirus (COVID-19): Construction Sector Guidance (link updated)

The Scottish Government has updated its construction sector guidance as it announced that with the confirmation that medical-style PPE supply to the NHS is assured, work on phase 4 of the construction industry’s Restart Plan could start from 15 July 2020. Phase 4 is defined as Steady state operation (with physical distancing, barriers or controlled close working with full PPE use)

[Further information here]

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Phase 3: business and physical distancing guidance (link updated)

The Scottish Government has updated its Guidance for businesses in Scotland on keeping safe during the COVID-19 outbreak. The 'Businesses that must close' section was updated on 3 August 2020 to reflect further Phase 3 changes.

[Further information here]

Job Retention Bonus (link updated)

The government is introducing a new Job Retention Bonus to reward and incentivise employers who keep on their furloughed employees. They will introduce a one-off payment of £1,000 to UK employers for every furloughed employee who remains continuously employed through to the end of January 2021. Employees must earn above the Lower Earnings Limit (£520 per month) on average between the end of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the end of January 2021. Payments will be made from February 2021. Further detail about the scheme are to be announced.

[Further information here]

Furlough Leave, New Job Support Scheme, Furlough Amnesty and Redundancy

Legal advisors, MacRoberts, have a podcast series which discusses key points surrounding the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, otherwise known as the furlough scheme together with a brief look at HMRC’s ‘furlough amnesty’. They also look at redundancy and the important steps employers should be aware of and action you can take in relation to issues affecting you and your business as a result of Covid-19.

[Listen here]

Provisions of the Coronavirus Act Extended (updated Practice Note)

The Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020 came into place on 7 April, with the Coronavirus (Scotland) (No.2) Act coming into force on 27 May. Read the RIAS Practice Note on this here.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance for homeworking (new)

This guidance is intended to support employers and the self-employed with the continuation of homeworking. It has been developed to complement the suite of COVID-19 related guidance on safer workplaces. The guidance can be applied across any sector where homeworking is a feasible option for both workers and businesses. Organisations should make every reasonable effort to make working from home the default position. Where a worker can perform their work from home, they should continue to do so. [Further information here]

Making your workplace COVID-secure during the coronavirus pandemic (new)

The HSE has published Coronavirus specific risk assessment guidance available here.

(previous updates listed in alphabetical order - information was correct at time of writing)

Architects Registration Board Guidance

The ARB has developed some initial guidance for those on the Register.

Changes in SOP New Site Operating Procedures

View the now published changes in SOP New Site Operating Procedures.

CICV Forum

Returning to work arrangements

A short video outlining the key health and safety steps that all staff should take as thy return to work has been released by the Construction Industry Coronavirus (CICV) Forum.

They have also produced a pack of free practical signage to help with the safe return to work. Designed for sites, depots and offices, the documents include essential posters, checklists and factsheets for on and off-site use, outlining how to manage the restart while keeping staff safe.

The CICV Forum is a collective of trade and professional bodies gathering intelligence, sharing advice and speaking directly with government on issues affecting members in the current crisis.

Changes to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

Read this update from legal advisor MacRoberts following the Chancellor's announcement on 12 May about the extension of the furlough job retention scheme.

Construction Sector to Move to Phase 3 of the Construction Restart Plan

The First Minister announced yesterday (18th June) that the construction sector can move to Phase 3 of the Construction Restart Plan from Monday 22nd June. Click to view the Construction Restart Plan and Scottish government guidance: Coronavirus (COVID-19): construction sector guidance.

The Practice Note: Construction Restart Planning – Advice to RIAS Practices and Members may be a useful resource.

Construction Sector continues to move through re-start phases

RIAS Legal Adviser MacRoberts have published the article: Construction Sector continues to move through re-start phases following the first minister update on 18th June announcing that the construction sector can move to Phase 3 of the Restart Plan.

Contract Administration

For guidance on the implications of Coronavirus on Contract Administration please read the guidance in our Practice Note.

For the duration of the Covid 19 crisis, the RIAS is releasing selected complimentary Practice Notes to assist all members. Practice Notes are normally only available to Practice Services subscribers.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): note on application of building regulations to adaptations

The following advice note by the Scottish Government is for building owners and operators to raise awareness of the application of building regulations, where adaptation of buildings in response to COVID-19 includes construction work or change in the use of a building.
To view click here.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): CPN 2/2020 duration extended: CPN 6/2020

The Scottish Government has published a new Construction Policy Note, CPN 6/2020, which advises that guidance in CPN 2/2020 remains applicable after 30 June and will expire after 30 September unless circumstances at that time require otherwise.

[View here.]( https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-cpn-2-2020-durationextended-cpn-6-2020/)

Coronavirus (COVID-19): CPN 2/2020 duration extended: CPN 6/2020

The Scottish Government has published a new Construction Policy Note, CPN 6/2020, which advises that guidance in CPN 2/2020 remains applicable after 30 June and will expire after 30 September unless circumstances at that time require otherwise.

To view click here.

COVID-19, contact tracing and protecting customer and visitor details

As the UK gradually comes out of lockdown, pubs, restaurants and other businesses in Scotland and England face the requirement to collect customers' and visitors' contact details to assist with respective NHS tracking measures. MacRoberts, the RIAS Legal Advisors, looks at the data businesses in Scotland should collect and how this data should be handled in line with data protection laws.

Read the article here

Difficult decisions: Time is of the essence - delay collective consultation at your peril

Read the article from MacRoberts legal advisor on the above subject here.

HSE - Questions and answers on working during the COVID-19 outbreak

The Health and Safety Executive have published a useful Frequently Asked Questions document answering questions on PPE, Home visits, Social distancing and Employee/Employer questions. To view the guide click here.

How to Designate A 'Furloughed Worker' and Other Questions

MacRoberts have provided a useful Q&A regarding the process.

Practices may also find useful the following legal update published by Brodies with details of the new Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. The purpose of the Scheme is to reimburse a proportion of the wages of those employees who are kept on the payroll and who would otherwise have been made redundant (or, Brodies think, laid off) as a result of the Coronavirus crisis ('Furloughed' Workers).

Letter to Construction Leadership Group

Read the following letter from Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning's letter to Ken Gillespie, Chair of Construction Scotland and Construction Leadership Forum which gives more detail of the proposals for re-starting construction.

MacRoberts Live Bitesized webinar and podcast: COVID-19 Series - Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

This series covers the key issues of the day in a short Q&A format. View the latest here.

New health and safety guidance helps careful return continue

As Scotland’s building sector continues its recovery, the CICV Forum has issued a raft of new health and safety guidance to help steer workers through the phased return. Seven new pieces of open source collateral have been released, offering in-depth industry advice on topics including face coverings, hand washing, domestic working and what to do if there is a case of COVID-19. View the guidance.

Practical Business Actions

Johnston Carmichael have published a guide that sets out a number of practical steps that they believe all businesses, regardless of size and sector, should be taking right now. They will continue to provide updated guidance, particularly on the Government incentives as the details emerge and new announcements are made. Access their practical business guide here.

Remote Site Inspections

The obligations of architects undertaking inspection duties is set out at some length in Practice Note FI191 Inspection Duties of an Architect available from the Practice Services area of the RIAS website. Amongst other things it notes that where issuing certificates under the main forms of contract, the architect must be reasonably satisfied that any work that is included in an interim certificate is properly executed and any such site materials are of the contractual standard. Inevitably that means inspecting key elements of the work. Some of these may be partially obscured, or in difficult to reach locations. Rigour is required.

The Scottish Government’s Building Standards Division (BSD) has recently published advice for local authority building control departments on procedures for remote site inspections during the current health crisis (). The RIAS is part of the BSD Building Standards Resilience Liaison Group and been involved in these discussions.

BSD’s guidance is quite clear: remote verification inspections will supplement, rather than replace, physical inspections primarily during the current Covid-19 affected period. The RIAS supports this recommendation – it is difficult to envisage any current digital recording system that will replace the level of detail obtained when on-site.

Members may be likewise considering remote inspections during this period, especially if they are within a shielded or vulnerable group. The advice in FI191 will be of particular relevance to them, as it makes clear that the benchmark for certification is necessarily high. The Practice Committee is investigating such issues further with other stakeholders but in the meantime would recommend considerable caution for those looking at such a route. If health issues limit the personal ability of an architect to undertake their duties in accordance with the terms of appointment then, as a minimum, they should be advising their clients and setting out alternative measures (such as other staff members or temporary input from other professionals) to ensure that they continue to meet their contractual obligations.

RIBA COVID-19 checklist for architects

The RIBA have issued a useful checklist for architects covering the key things to consider at this time of change with links to further information and help.

Reminder to Architects to make appropriate arrangements for their professional work in the event of incapacity, death, absence from, or inability to, work – ARB Standard 2.2

The article in the Winter 2019 RIAS Quarterly on the above subject can be accessed here (page 82 under the Practice Update).

Scotland's Town Partnership Funding Finder

STP’s Funding Finder is the go-to place to source potential funding. The Funding Finder provides easy to read information on current funding streams, highlighting where new funds have been announced and where application deadlines are looming. The latest update includes a section on covid-19 funding. Access it here.

Scottish Government Guidance here

New measures to limit the impact of COVID-19 on the business community in Scotland have been announced by Finance Secretary Kate Forbes. The following steps will be put in place to support businesses during the 2020-21 financial year:

  • a 75% rates relief for retail, hospitality and leisure sectors with a rateable value of less than £69,000 from 1 April 2020
  • an £80 million fund to provide grants of at least £3,000 to small businesses in sectors facing the worst economic impact of COVID-19
  • 1.6% rates relief for all properties across Scotland, effectively reversing the planned below inflation uplift in the poundage from 1 April 2020
  • a fixed rates relief of up to £5,000 for all pubs with a rateable value of less than £100,000 from 1 April 2020

The Finance Secretary will also write to all local authorities urging them to respond positively to requests from rate payers for payment - deferrals for a fixed period. The business helpline number is 0300 303 0660. The helpline will be open Monday to Friday 8.30am to 5.30pm. - Callers should select option one to speak to the COVID-19 team.

(Please note: There’s no information yet on how to apply for these grants and the phoneline is currently very busy)

Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning Kevin Stewart MSP has issued letters to Chief Executives - Scottish Local Authorities and Building Standards Managers – Scottish Local Authorities regarding special measures under the Building (Scotland) Act 2003. Read them via the below links.

Scottish Government Guidance on the role of certification as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak – 17 June 2020

Over recent weeks the RIAS and RIAS-Regs has been liaising with the Scottish Government and the wider industry with regard to many aspects of the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic. This includes a growing recognition that the Certification of Design and the Certification of Construction, have roles to play in minimising the Public Health risks associated with visits to construction sites. This is detailed in a letter form Kevin Stewart MSP, Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning to the Chief Executive of each of Scotland’s 32 Local Authorities. View the letter here

As an Approved Certifier of Design (Section 6 – Energy) there has never been a better time to ensure that your clients are aware of the services you can offer, and the advantages that these can bring to their projects.

If you are interested in becoming an Approved Certifier of Design (Section 6 – Energy) please visit the RIAS-Regs website for more information, and how to register.

Small and micro businesses guidance

This guidance by the Scottish Government is to help micro (less than 10 employees) and small (less than 50 employees) companies safely re-open. It sets out their expectations on the steps that should be taken before and after re-opening. [View here]

UK Government support for businesses link here

  • a statutory sick pay relief package for SMEs
  • a 12-month business rates holiday for all retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England
  • small business grant funding of £10,000 for all business in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief
  • grant funding of £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000
  • the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme offering loans of up to £5 million for SMEs through the British Business Bank
  • a new lending facility from the Bank of England to help support liquidity among larger firms, helping them bridge coronavirus disruption to their cash flows through loans
  • the HMRC Time To Pay Scheme

Updated Government financial support for business during Covid-19

Both the UK and Scottish Governments have made a number of updates to their financial support announcements for business. Anderson Strathern has updated its insight article, which explains everything that business owners across all sectors need to know. For further
information click here.

What kind of Scotland do we want to see post-lockdown?

In the first of a series of blogs recognising the impacts of COVID-19, the lockdown and continuing need for physical distancing across Scottish communities, and also the prominent role planning will play in renewal and recovery, the Minister for Local Government, Housing and
Planning, Kevin Stewart, offers some thoughts about recent events and what the future might bring for our places and people. You can see the Minister's blog here.

Working remotely with colleagues and clients

The RIBA have published a useful article for practices setting up remote working, making suggestions of what smaller practices can easily implement.