Government tells construction to carry on regardless

Kwasi Kwarteng, who was appointed Secretary of State for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy on 8 January, has told the construction industry to carry on working.

Although a few construction companies have stopped working in the latest lockdown to protect employees from the more easily contracted mutations of Covid-19, Ireland has told its construction sites to close, and London sites have been warned they might have to close if peak time crowding on the underground is not stopped by 20 January, in an open letter to the construction industry in the UK, Kwasi Kwartend, the new Secretary of State for Business, Energy & lndustrial Strategy, tells the construction industry in the UK to keep on working.

The letter is dated 11 January 2020, but that is a mistake and it should read 2021.

Kwasi Kwartend writes:

To everyone working in the UK's construction sector

On 4 January, the Prime Minister announced new national lockdown restrictions across the country to help us control and push back against the spread of a new variant of Covid-19. This brings new restrictions, including asking people to stay at home apart from essential travel.

As the new Business Secretary, I would like to take this opportunity to restate the Government position, which is that firms and tradespeople in the construction sector and its supply chain, including merchants, suppliers and product manufacturers, should continue to operate during this national lockdown.

I would also like to make it clear that where it is essential to travel or to stay in accommodation, whether to get to your work or for the purposes of carrying out your work, those in the industry are able to do so.

It is vital that construction continues through these unsettling times and I want to reassure you that the Government values the crucial contribution your sector is making. Whether delivering on large or small construction sites, and in people’s homes across the country, in builders merchants, designing and project managing schemes, or producing construction and mineral products, you are making a major contribution to the economic recovery following Covid-19.

To help ensure that it is safe for you to operate whilst carrying out your work, the Construction Leadership Council has published [version seven of] the Site Operating Procedures (SOP) and [the Builders Merchants Federation has published version seven of its] Branch Operating Procedures, which reflect the latest guidance from Government. The Government and devolved administrations continue to update their safe working guidance which can be found on GOV.UK.

My Ministerial team and I are in regular contact with industry leaders about the risks, issues and challenges you face.

Thank you again to everyone operating in the UK construction sector. You are making a hugely valued and critical contribution to our country.

Yours sincerely,

The Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng MP

Secretary of State for Business, Energy & lndustrial Strategy