30th November 2020

The Construction Industry Must Be Prepared

In September last year, I wrote a blog about the issues businesses faced due to the uncertainty of leaving the European Union. With the transition period ending on 31 December 2020, there are concerns that many UK businesses are still unprepared due to levels of uncertainty around trade agreements and access to talent.

2020 has been an incredibly challenging year for us all, but with no extension to the transition period (the period where the UK remains in both the EU customs union and single market) it is important that businesses prepare as much as possible to avoid disruption to their practice. I encourage members to access resources I’ve included in this blog and to start thinking about what they will need to change to comply with new rules that will be put in place from 1 January 2021.

To help minimise disruption we encourage UK businesses to visit the government website advising on what you may need to change before the transition period ends: gov.uk/construction- 2021. Additionally, you can receive a personalised list of actions by using the government’s online tool to assess which actions your or your business need to take.

At the CIOB we have been working closely with the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) to help drive recovery from the coronavirus and mitigate the effects from Brexit. You may have heard that the CLC has recently undergone a restructure and I have been invited to join the senior advisors group which sits at the heart of the CLC. There has been extensive work undertaken at the CLC to produce guidance and resources for those in the industry to prepare for Brexit. A “quick links” document relating to Brexit can be found here.

If you’re not sure where to start, here are four action points to start thinking about.

1. Check the new rules on importing and exporting goods between the EU and Great Britain from 1 January 2021. Different rules will apply in Northern Ireland.

Your business could face delays, disruption or administrative costs if you do not comply with new customs procedures from 1 January 2021. Trade negotiations are still ongoing as I write this, so if you are importing or exporting goods, keep an eye on the gov.uk website for any updates.

2. Use GOV.UK to identify changes affecting manufactured goods, such as new marking requirements or approvals needed, to ensure your business is ready to sell them in the UK and EU.

You may not be able to sell your goods in the UK and the EU from January 2021 without the appropriate marking. The CLC has published guidance on the conformity marking of construction products for placing on the Great Britain, Northern Ireland and European Union markets. You can access the guidance here.

3. If you are planning to recruit from overseas from January 2021, you will need to register as a licensed visa sponsor.

You may not be able to legally hire people from outside the UK if you do not have a licence. From 1 January 2021, free movement will end, and the UK will introduce a points-based immigration system. The system will introduce job, salary and language requirements that will change the way employers hire from the EU. Irish citizens and those eligible under the EU Settlement Scheme are not affected.

The Home Office has developed a range of digital and print assets with information to help you prepare for the new points-based immigration system, see here.

In addition to the Home Office resource, the CLC has published guidance on the movement of people and workers into the UK. You can access the most up-to-date guidance here which covers information on the points-based system, the Construction Industry Scheme, becoming a licenced sponsor and more.

4. If you are moving goods into, out of, or through Northern Ireland, check the latest guidance.

At the end of the transition period, the Northern Ireland Protocol comes into force. There will be special provisions which only apply in Northern Ireland so if you move goods into, out of, or through Northern Ireland make sure you check the latest guidance here.

The CLC have published guidance on the movement of goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland which you can access here.