A dis-United Kingdom as winter approaches

A dis-United Kingdom as winter approaches

BLOG · BY TTF CEO, DAVID HOPKINS · 26 October

Construction seems to be unanimously left to continue and building supplies and hardware stores able to remain open, even during the harsher ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown in Wales and the restrictions in Northern Ireland.

However, this places even greater pressure on TTF members who are part of the construction supply chain as the spotlight and public opinion will be focused even more keenly upon them.

Over the past week and a half we’ve been following the back and forth between Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham and the Government closely, which will likely set the tone for the rest of England on what kind of support businesses can expect to see over winter.

Despite a breakdown in talks, a support package of £60m was announced for Greater Manchester on Tuesday, on top of the already announced 66% furlough package for workers of firms forced to close because of Tier 3 restrictions.

Immediately the package was labelled insufficient by many in the region, and shows the increasing divide between local and national Government over COVID-19 – as we can already see across the UK.

Just at the beginning of this week, Wales announced a ‘circuit-breaker’ lockdown – kicking in at 6pm today until Monday 9 November. While perhaps not as harsh as what was seen in March, all non-essential businesses are being made to close, with a £300m economic resilience fund introduced to help businesses through the shutdown. Schools have however remained open.

Not to be outdone, the Scottish Government today announced a 5-Tier system of restrictions, following on from the restrictions put in place since 25 September restricting household mixing, and now the closure of pubs, restaurants, and shops. Northern Ireland too has its own variation of restrictions, which came into force on 15 October with the closures of schools, pubs and restaurants.

While some variation in regional lockdowns is understandable to account for local outbreaks, for businesses with outposts across the country are being placed in an increasingly difficult position. Thankfully, construction seems to be unanimously left to continue and building supplies and hardware stores able to remain open, even during the harsher ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown in Wales and the restrictions in Northern Ireland.

However, this places even greater pressure on TTF members who are part of the construction supply chain as the spotlight and public opinion will be focused even more keenly upon them. This reiterates the need to ensure that COVID safe risk assessments have been conducted through-out your business and the measures fully implemented to protect all staff and customers. Members need to ensure that working from home continues to be implemented for the maximum possible number of employees. In most cases it will be the delivery drivers that businesses will be judged upon so make sure they have the equipment and training necessary to undertake contactless delivery keeping themselves and your customers safe.

The disagreements on COVID-19 are not restricted to the politicians either, with scientists also at odds on whether the costs of lockdowns are prudent, as seen in the divide between the Great Barrington Declaration and the John Snow Memorandum (named after the epidemiologist, not the Game of Thrones character).

In any case, central to the UK in the coming months to controlling COVID-19 will be improving the test and trace system, which the PM Boris Johnson has conceded must improve.

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