UK construction blog


Archive for March, 2020

Financial support for businesses – what’s available

March 31st, 2020 Comments off

Build UK has produced this handy summary of the various emergency schemes that the government has produced to date to help businesses survive the Covid-19 pandemic.

Coronavirus Job Retention SchemeAll UK employersEmployees that you can no longer afford to pay will be designated ‘furloughed workers’
Claim 80% of their wage costs up to a cap of £2,500 per month.
A new online portal will be established.
Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) reclaimEmployers with fewer than 250 employees on 28 February 2020Claim back up to two weeks SSP per employee who is absent due to Covid-19.
Maintain records of absence. No GP fit note required.
Repayment mechanism not yet in place. Commences as soon as the legislation is in place.
VAT deferral for three monthsAll UK businessesVAT payments will not need to be made between 20 March and 30 June 2020.
Continue to account for VAT on eligible goods & services. Deferred VAT will be due by April 2021. No penalites or interest will be charged. Vat refunds will paid as normal.
No application required to benefit from deferral.
Time to Pay – Tax ServiceBusinesses that pay tax to the UK government and cannot pay a current tax billArranged on a case by case basis for current or imminent tax payments.
Call HMRC on 0800 0159 559
Income Tax deferralSelf-employed workersIncome Tax self-assessment payments due on 31 July 2020 will be deferred until 31 January 2021
Business rates holidayRetail, hospitality and leisure sector businesses in EnglandNo action required. Will be applied to Council Tax bill in April 2020 (your bill may have to be reissued).Calculate the value of this benefit
Cash grantRetail, hospitality and leisure sector businesses in EnglandNo action required. Local authorities will notify businesses. Available for each different property dependant on rateable value: 
• Rateable value under £15,000 eligible for £10,000
• Rateable value between £15,001- £51,000 eligible for £25,000
Small Business Grant SchemeSmall businesses that occupy property and receive Small Business Rate Relief (SBBR), Rural Rate Relieve (RRR), or Tapered Relief in EnglandNo action required. Local authorities will contact businesses.
One-off grant of £10,000. Scheme not yet in place
Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan (CBIL)UK businesses with a turnover of less than £45 million per year which meet British Business Bank eligibility criteriaAvailable from 23 March. Loans of up to £5 million, 12 months interest free. Apply through your current bank or an accredited lender.
Covid-19 Corporate Financing FacilityAll UK businessesAvailable from 23 March. Purchase Commercial Paper (CP) during a defined period each business day.
Businesses do not have to have previously issued CP.
Available from the Bank of England
MoT SuspensionBusinesses using heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) and public service vehicles (PSVs)Available as of 21 March 2020
Annual MOTs suspended for three months for all HGVs and PSVs
Vehicles to be issued with a certificate of temporary exemption (CTE)
Find out more from the DVSA

COVID-19 – Building contractors struggling with public sector jobs urged to seek help from local framework experts

March 30th, 2020 Comments off

Building contractors, specialist sub-contractors and manufacturers throughout the UK are being advised to talk to their regional framework partners as quickly as possible if they are struggling to deliver any public sector works, have seen projects paused or are worried about payment.

LHC, the country’s longest running framework provider, is sending information to all approved suppliers on its frameworks with updated advice on how to manage the risks arising from the current COVID-19 crisis.

This follows the publication of two policy notes from the Cabinet Office, including one which explained how suppliers should be paid by public sector clients as quickly as possible to maintain cashflow and protect jobs, and even paid in advance in some situations.

John Skivington, group director of LHC, said:

“The latest Cabinet Office advice allows for a relaxation of procurement rules in some specific circumstances, and encourages councils, social landlords and other public sector bodies to pay suppliers as quickly as possible. You may even be entitled to get up to 25% of the project payment made in advance.

“No appointed company should need to struggle alone. Through LHC’s network of local offices we are uniquely placed to provide region-specific reassurance and to support to our appointed companies, including speaking to clients on your behalf. Whatever the problem, we can work it out. Just pick up the phone and talk to your local framework expert – it’s at times like this that these local relationships matter most.”

Through its regional business operations, LHC is also helping over-stretched local authorities to source approved suppliers for emergency building repairs and maintenance services. This work is expected to provide a useful lifeline to some contractors whose other projects may be cancelled or temporarily paused.

Contact a local LHC office at:


Kubota Invests in Indian Tractor Manufacturer Escorts Limited

March 27th, 2020 Comments off

Kubota Invests in Indian Tractor Manufacturer Escorts Limited
— Accelerating its Business in the World’s Largest Tractor Market —

Kubota Corporation (Headquarters: Naniwa-ku, Osaka, Japan; President and Representative Director: Yuichi Kitao; hereinafter, “Kubota”) announced today that it will invest in an Indian leading tractor manufacturer, Escorts Limited (Headquarters: India, Chairman and Managing Director: Nikhil Nanda; hereinafter, “EL”).

Through this investment, Kubota intends to increase its presence in India – the world’s largest tractor market – as well as its commitment to the competitive tractor market, which has massive growth potential, thus further expanding its business.

Tractor produced by EL started distributing through Kubota’s sales network in worldwide.

  • Background and aims
  • The tractor market in India is one of the world’s largest in terms of unit sales and expects to expand further. In 2008, Kubota established Kubota Agricultural Machinery India Pvt. Ltd. (hereinafter, “KAI”) as a foothold in the Indian market.
  • At present, local manufacturers are playing key roles there, and they are all enhancing partnerships with foreign-affiliated manufacturers. In February 2019, Kubota established a joint-venture tractor manufacturing company with EL and mass production is due to start this July.
  • Through this capital tie, the two companies intend to deepen their cooperative relationship further and, by leveraging each other’s strengths, create synergy across a broad range of their business, including development, production, sales, distribution, and parts procurement, in a bid to extend their reach in the Indian market.
  • Meanwhile, the competitive tractors which currently form the core of the Indian tractor market, are gaining popularity in other markets around the world. Kubota hopes to expand its global reach in those model market by tapping into EL’s parts procurement networks and capability to reduce cost.

Investment scheme

  • EL will issue new equity shares to Kubota on a preferential allotment basis (subject to shareholders’ and necessary regulatory approvals) pursuant to which Kubota will hold 9.1% of EL’s paid up share capital.
  • The total amount of investment will be approximately 16 billion yen.
  • Subsequent to the preferential allotment to Kubota, EL will undertake a reduction of its share capital from the shares held by the Escorts Benefit and Welfare Trust (subject to receipt of necessary approvals) of such number of equity shares as are being issued to Kubota under the preferential allotment. Post the capital reduction, Kubota’s stake in EL will increase to 10%.
  • About the investee
Company name Escorts Limited
Representative Nikhil Nanda, Chairman and Managing Director
Location Faridabad City, Haryana State, India
Year of establishment 1944
Business Manufacture and sales of agricultural equipment, construction equipment, and railways-related equipment
Sales Approx. 100.0 billion yen (approx. 62.0 billion rupee; for the year ended March 2019)
Number of employees 11,000 (including non-regular employees, current as of December 2019)
  • Future developments
  • After going through the necessary procedures and subject to receipt of requisite approvals, the investment is likely to be completed by June 2020.
  • To further facilitate and strengthen the collaboration with EL, Kubota will sell 40% of stake in KAI to EL, in addition to this investment.
  • Going forward, Kubota aims to establish a joint research and development center with EL to develop products that are optimized for the local market and shorten the development period.

TfL suspends Crossrail work

March 26th, 2020 Comments off

Transport for London is suspending what is left to be done on the already long-delayed Crossrail project until the coronavirus pandemic subsides.

While the government has said it is acceptable for construction to continue, if sites can observe Public Health England social distancing and hygiene advice, mayor of London Sadiq Khan has a different view. “I’ve expressed my concerns to the prime minister directly…. In my view, the only construction workers that should be working are those that we need for safety.

Announcing full site closures, Mike Brown, London’s transport commissioner, said: “The government and the mayor have given clear instructions to stay safe and to stop travelling in all cases other than critical workers making absolutely essential journeys.

“In line with this, TfL and Crossrail will be bringing all project sites to a temporary Safe Stop unless they need to continue for operational safety reasons. This means that work on all such projects will be temporarily suspended as soon as it is safe to do so. Essential maintenance of the transport network will of course continue.”

He added: “This is being done to ensure the safety of our construction and project teams and also to further reduce the number of people travelling on the public transport network. It is vital that the transport network is only used by critical workers. As we work through these issues with our supply chain, consideration will be given to the impact on workers, particularly those who are on low incomes.”

Mark Wild, chief executive of Crossrail Ltd, said: “Essential and business critical work continues across the Crossrail programme but our priority is to keep our people safe and limit movement. Last week we asked everyone who could work from home to do so and put in place measures to limit movement across the programme. As a further measure we have taken the decision with our Tier 1 contractors to temporarily stop station activity and close our sites until further notice.

“While we are doing everything we safely can to keep the Crossrail programme on track, Covid-19 will have an impact – it’s too early to tell what that impact will be. We are doing everything we can to support our principal contractors during this difficult and challenging time. Our arrangements remain under constant review and we are liaising closely with our Tier 1 contractors and their supply chains to ensure that the Crossrail programme continues to be delivered safely.”


Government announces unprecedented wage support and VAT holiday

March 25th, 2020 Comments off

A VAT holiday until June and government grants to help pay workers’ wages have been announced by the chancellor as part of an additional package of measures to help the UK through the coronavirus crisis.

Rishi Sunak announced the “unprecedented measures for unprecedented times” in a speech outlining the design to help firms keep people in work.

He said: “To help businesses keep people in work, I’m deferring the next quarter of VAT payments. No business will pay VAT from now to mid-June. You’ll have until the end of the financial year to repay those bills.” This is a £30bn cash injection equivalent to 1.5 per cent of GDP.

Encouraging firms not to lay off workers, he announced a grant scheme to cover 80 per cent of the salary of retained workers, up to a total of £2,500 a month.

“The scheme, open to any employer in the country, will cover the cost of wages backdated to 1 March and will be open before the end of April for at least three months. There’s no limit on the funding available for the scheme, we will pay to support as many jobs as needed.” Full details on how to apply are expected to be announced soon.

Self-assessment tax payments have also been deferred until January 2021, while the self-employed will be allowed to access Universal Credit at a rate equivalent to Statutory Sick Pay for employees, should they need to.

The previously announced Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan scheme will now give interest-free loans for a year rather than 12 months, it was announced. Full details of the scheme and who will be eligible will be released on Monday when it opens for applications.

Sunak said: “The actions I have taken today represent an unprecedented economic intervention to support the jobs and incomes of the British people.

“Now more than at any time in our history we will be judged by our capacity for compassion. Our ability to come through this won’t be down to what government or business do but by the individual acts of kindness we show each other.”

Reacting to the announcement on Twitter, Civil Engineering Contractors Association chief executive Alasdair Reisner said: “Put simply, action like this is what industry was crying out for. Grants not loans to save jobs. This will save companies too.”

Hannah Vickers, chief executive of the Association for Consultancy and Engineering (ACE), said the measures outlined will ensure businesses can get through the short-term issues brought about by COVID-19.

She added: “With short-term issues now put to bed, focus needs to turn to the medium term and our industries’ role in the economic recovery of the nation.” The trade body has asked for a meeting with Sunak to outline how “construction and infrastructure investment remains a catalyst for growth when normality returns”.


Kubota launches next-generation R070 and R090 wheel loaders

March 24th, 2020 Comments off

Kubota launches next-generation R070 and R090 wheel loaders

New machines offer ease and efficiency, without compromising power

Kubota, a leading manufacturer of construction and agricultural machinery, today announces the launch of its next-generation wheel loaders, the R070 and R090. The new machines are suitable for use in construction, agricultural and groundcare environments.

Redesigned inside and out, the new machines are built to get the job done quickly, easily and efficiently. Both the R070 and R090 wheel loaders boast a fully enclosed glass cabin for improved visibility, as well as a more ergonomic control layout. New features include:

  • High visibility cabin  –   Enlarged glass surface
  • Full opening right window –   Air conditioning (optional)
  • New loader boom design  –   Adjustable right wrist rest
  • Digital display  –   Large foot space
  • Full suspension seat  –   Tiltable steering wheel

Long reach and excellent lifting power ensures superior performance for a wide range of loader tasks. Both machines have a high lifting capacity (R070: 1880 kgf, R090: 2160 kgf), enabling operators to smoothly manoeuvre materials. All major loader functions are on a single RH lever that is easy to operate with just one hand, both on the R070 and R090. The 2-step speed control switch enables the operator to quickly change speeds for optimum efficiency.

Kubota’s V2607 direct-injection engine is now fully Stage-V compliant and fuel efficient. Additionally, the new and improved DPF reduces maintenance by increasing the service intervals.

Glen Hampson, Business Development Manager for Construction at Kubota UK, said “We’re really proud to introduce our new and improved wheel loading machines. Both the R070 and R090 are built for enhanced performance, with productivity features and power to spare. They’re also built for safe and simple operation, even by operators with no loader experience.”

“We know our customers want versatile, reliable, low maintenance machines, which is why the R070 and R090 are designed to meet Kubota’s exacting standards of quality and performance. The wheel loaders are designed to be easy to maintain, with areas that require routine maintenance easily accessible for fast and straight forward servicing.”, added Rob Edwards, Business Development Manager for Agriculture at Kubota UK.


Why is Concrete the Most Popular Building Material in the UK?

March 23rd, 2020 Comments off

Concrete is the most widely used construction material in the UK and worldwide. The basic mix of gravel aggregate, sand and water has been the building blocks of some of the most impressive constructions since the Romans, Egyptians and probably even further back. Anything can be built out of concrete; the possibilities are limitless.

The Benefits of Concrete as a Construction Material

Concrete has a number of benefits as a construction material including:

  • The ability to be used to build new-build properties
  • The ability to be used to imitate traditional stone motifs
  • It makes projects easier
  • It is aesthetically pleasing
  • It is safe to use
  • It is functional
  • It is strong

Why is Concrete So Popular in the UK Construction Industry?

Concrete is one of the few building materials that actually gains strength over time. Not only does it remain high-quality for a long period of time, but there is little need for maintenance or reconstruction, which is why it is one of the most popular building materials used in the UK

Concrete has double the lifespan of other building materials including:

  • Plastics
  • Wood
  • Brick

The Benefits of Concrete in Construction

Concrete has been around for hundreds of years and has been popular since it was first introduced. The concrete industry is continually growing and when you look at the benefits you can see why:

  • It makes buildings more efficient
  • The materials are widely available
  • Concrete allows for absorption and heat retention
  • Walls and foundations are more durable and stronger
  • It’s cheaper to use
  • It’s easier to maintain
  • The material is fire resistant
  • It’s stronger than other materials against natural disasters
  • It has better protection against the weather
  • It helps reduce allergens in the environment
  • It’s rot-resistant

Is it Expensive?

The prices of most construction materials are continually changing depending on supply and demand. However, concrete continues to be one of the best and most cost-efficient building materials available. The price of concrete has remained steady even though there have been huge changes in the UK economy and changes in demand.

Construction businesses should consider using more concrete in their builds. Before doing so, you need to think about your concrete requirements:

  • The grade
  • The finishing costs
  • Surface preparation costs

These things all need to be thought about so that you avoid unexpected expenses during the build.

Finding concrete suppliers near you can be tricky, especially if you’re not sure what you’re looking for. If you can work out exactly how much you’ll need beforehand, you’ll be able to look around for some quotes. A good place to start is using the concrete calculator on the MixIt website which allows you to calculate the cubic area of material needed. They’re London based concrete suppliers so could abe an ideal choice if you’re in the area.

Is Concrete Safe?

Many people question whether concrete is safe to use on a building project and whether it is the best option for them. Concrete is one of the safest building materials available. Unlike most other materials, concrete does not need fireproofing treatment in order to meet the UK’s fire guidelines. It is one of the most long-lasting and strongest materials available, even if hit by a man-made or natural disaster.

There are a number of benefits of using concrete in construction. Concrete is both strong and durable and is often more cost-effective than other materials. This is why concrete is the most popular building material in the UK.


Mott MacDonald announces new strategic partnership with 3D Repo

March 23rd, 2020 Comments off

Mott MacDonald Ventures, the investment arm of global management, engineering and development consultancy Mott MacDonald, has announced a new strategic partnership with 3D Repo, pioneers of cloud-based design collaboration for building information modelling (BIM).

The partnership follows a recent £2.3m A-series investment round in 3D Repo led by The Ingenious Group’s infrastructure ventures EIS service, and brings more positive momentum for the innovative start-up.

Mott MacDonald currently utilises BIM across the building, oil and gas, transport, water, and power industry sectors, and plans to use 3D Repo’s online collaborative platform to enhance collaboration and to drive better results on construction projects across the UK.

Darren Russell, chief digital officer at Mott MacDonald Digital Ventures, said:

“BIM brings a long list of tangible benefits that ultimately save time and money through reduced risk, minimising waste, faster delivery, and enhanced sustainability. Through our partnership with 3D Repo we’ll be able to connect people with the information they need to drive better decisions and deliver more of the UK’s most ambitious construction projects.”

Mott MacDonald is a US$2bn organisation, employing over 16,000 people and delivering projects all over the world. Notable developments include Heathrow Terminal 5, the Manchester Civil Justice Centre, and the US$13bn redevelopment of JFK Airport.

Dr Jozef Dobos, founder and CEO of 3D Repo, said:

“3D Repo is already partnered with a growing list of forward-thinking tech companies including Opentext, BrydenWood, and Mission Room, among others. Our new partnership with Mott MacDonald will open new doors for 3D Repo and allow us to deploy our digital construction platform on more of the most challenging infrastructure projects in the UK.”

London-based 3D Repo has deployed its collaborative BIM platform on projects such as Wood Wharf district, the remodelling of King’s Cross railway station and Hinkley Point C nuclear power station. Its multi-award-winning digital platform for BIM provides access to data to anyone with a web browser whenever and wherever they need it. The service democratises the data, mitigates risk and reduces complexity for everyone involved including architects, engineers, and contractors. 3D Repo allows users to manage 3D model revisions and highlight potential clashes and safety issues using live collaboration tools which enable the whole project team to work from a single source of truth, anywhere and at any time.


Kubota introduces three new machines to 5-tonne range

March 20th, 2020 Comments off

Kubota introduces three new machines to 5-tonne range

New machines focus on enhanced safety and comfort

Kubota, a leading manufacturer of construction machinery, today announces the launch of three new 5-tonne machines. The KX060- 5, U56-5 and U50-5, have been developed in line with customer feedback to ensure the machines are aligning with the demands of the industry. The launch of the three machines means Kubota’s customers continue to have the choice of either a reduced tail swing or the conventional excavator.

Each machine has been designed with the operator in mind, starting with a larger cabin, enhanced insulation, improved visibility, and a multitude of new comfort features. The exterior of the machines has also been redesigned, to give each a modern look.  The KX060-5 offers a conventional tail swing which can be used in different applications to the U-series. It is also the machine most suitable to heavier attachments due to the off-set of the conventional tail swing weight.

The U56-5 has a powerful engine and is the largest reduced tail swing machine in the range. The machine is built to have good lifting capacity and will be a great machine for an owner or operator.

The U50-5, which will be available from July, has been designed as an entry-level machine and built for the hire market. The size of the machine means it is well suited to working in smaller spaces and will have excellent site access.

All machines come fitted with the following features:

  • Better access to information: A full-color, high-resolution 7” LCD screen and jog-dial navigation come fitted as standard. This provides the operator with all the information needed, from AUX flow adjustment to important maintenance information, as well as detailed alerts.
  • Increased safety and comfort:  A high visibility orange coloured seatbelt and alert functions have been included to encourage the operator to wear the seatbelt, reducing the risk of serious accidents for those using the machines.  The new CAB structure has a noise reduction of 5dB, down to 74dB, providing a more stress-free working environment for the operator. A double adjustable air suspension has been included on L models to maximise on comfort and allow easy height adjustment via an air compressor.
  • Built for the future: With increasing sustainability measures being introduced as standard across the globe, the new machines come fitted with a Kubota Original Direct Injection Engine with CRS and DPF Muffler, the engines for all three models are fully Stage-V compliant.
  • Better access for maintenance: The new and improved DPF reduces maintenance by increasing the service intervals for both the regeneration filter and ash cleaner. When maintenance is needed, however, all three machines have been designed to provide easier access to those working on the machine – with wide opening bonnets and radiator cleaning.

Glen Hampson, Business Development Manager for Construction at Kubota UK, said: “We’re proud to be welcoming three new models into our 5-tonne range. The new range builds on the success of its predecessors when it comes to how the machines operate and overall functionality. The new machines, however, offer improved comfort and safety to the user. It is important for us here, at Kubota, that we’re providing machines that get the job done, but are also enjoyable and comfortable to use. The KX060- 5, U56-5 and U50-5 are just this.”


ENGIE begins work on £15 million Extra Care scheme in Cumbria

March 19th, 2020 Comments off

Residents needing specialist housing and care in Kendal, Cumbria will soon have a new facility to serve their needs, as leading energy and regeneration specialist ENGIE begins work on a £15.2million Extra Care scheme.

The Extra Care development is being built on behalf of the leading not-for-profit, provider of Retirement Housing and Extra Care, Housing 21.

Consisting of 80 apartments and 24 stand-alone bungalows, the aim of the development is to help older people maintain their independence, with access to care and support as and when needed from a 24-hour, on-site care team.

The Oxenholme project is the second Extra Care scheme ENGIE is currently building on behalf of Housing 21, with work on a similar £10m project in High Bentham in the Yorkshire Dales reaching the halfway mark of its development recently. In addition to this, ENGIE will also be working on another three Extra Care builds in Cumbria over the coming months, with a value of approximately £60million.

Extra Care is a sector that ENGIE knows well, as a previous Extra Care development with Housing 21 – Casson Court in Doncaster – scooped the Best Partnership prize at the 2018 Inside Housing Awards, thanks to the close working relationship between ENGIE, Housing 21 and Doncaster Council.

That expertise is being brought to the development, with work expected to be complete on the project in the summer of 2021.

Lee Francis, Area Director at ENGIE, said: “This new development will allow more than 100 local residents to retain their independence, while living in beautiful surroundings and having the care they need close at hand.

“ENGIE has a long track-record of creating high-quality Extra Care developments and we are pleased to be continuing our partnership with Housing 21 and making this scheme a reality.”

Siobhan Moore, Director of Development at Housing 21 said: “We are delighted to bring our Extra Care offering to Oxenholme. We believe there is a real need for this type of housing, which enables people to continue to live independently, whilst receiving quality support.

“All of our schemes are built with community in mind and upon opening this scheme will offer a number of jobs to local people, as well as the creation of a great place for the community to come together. 

“The feedback from our latest developments has been great so far, with award wins and a vast number of show home viewings from the public. We can’t wait for another Extra Care launch and look forward to meeting people in Oxenholme!” she added.

For further information on ENGIE, visit