RIAS Business and Practice Bulletin

Updated 3rd July 2020

The RIAS is compiling information for members and will post regular details to support you in accessing information. Further details and information are also posted to the UK Government Business Bulletin updates also on the RIAS Website.

NEW: 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.

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.

CICV Forum

CICV Forum has 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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