This page contains all of the information that the ADE has found that may be relevant for individuals and organisations involved in heat networks - we cannot guarantee it contains all of the relevant guidance.
This page was last updated on 03 June 2020.
BEIS Webinars on Heat Networks (Risks & Issues facing Heat Networks)
- BEIS working with the ADE and UKDEA, have organised an event; “Operating your heat network business during COVID-19.
- BEIS will highlight the Government’s response to COVID-19 in the context of heat networks. During the event BEIS would like to seek your views of the COVID-19 related challenges now and in preparation for the next heating season.
- The event will be repeated in the same format on the following days:
- Thursday, 4th June 2020, 15:00 – 16:00 (BST)
- Tuesday, 9th June 2020, 12:00 – 13:00 (BST)
- Thursday, 18th June 2020, 15:00 – 16:00 (BST)
- Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for joining instructions.
- The ADE will be presenting on the risks and issues that we have identified in the heat networks sector, our slides are available for download below.
Consumer protection statement
- The ADE has been working with BEIS through the Heat Networks Industry Council to come to an agreement on protecting consumers. Signatories have committed to identifying and prioritising customers that may need additional support, working with customers who are impacted financially from COVID-19 to consider how to manage debt, and to suspend credit meter disconnections, providing information about what help is available, switching pre-payment meters into credit model or extending non-disconnection periods, proactively contacting pre-paying meter customers with guidance on what to do in the case of self-isolation or shielding, and more.
- The statement has received support from BEIS Minister Rt. Hon. Kwasi Kwarteng, Scottish Minister for Energy, Paul Wheelhouse, and Citizens Advice. https://twitter.com/KwasiKwarteng/status/1256152033012441090
- The ADE is encouraging all those relevant organisations within the heat networks sector to sign up to the statement. To sign up or for more information, please email email@example.com
- More information can be found here: https://www.theade.co.uk/news/policy-and-regulation/hnic-agreement
Testing Guidance for Key Workers (Heat Networks) (UK Wide)
- Coronavirus testing has now been extended to anyone with coronavirus symptoms across the UK (except for the under 5 in Scotland & Northern Ireland), including heat networks workers.
- Key workers (which includes some heat networks workers, as above) and their families can access priority testing.
- Online guidance can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-getting-tested
Quarantine periods, migrant workers and border exemptions
- The Government announced on Friday 22 May a mandatory 14-day self isolation period for anyone entering the UK, to be implemented from Monday 8 June in England. BEIS have secured an exemption for key workers in the heat networks sector, and as such, any essential workers that need to come into the UK to support the safe and secure operation of heat networks will be exempt from this 14-day isolation period.
- These workers will be required to carry a signed letter, which will be circulated by BEIS in the coming days. This letter will allow key workers to pass through the border and through spot checks.
- Workers will have to observe social distancing rules of the country they enter, and will be expected to, for example, arrange transport on the other side.
- BEIS are keen to understand how many workers in the heat networks sector would need to make use of this provision on a monthly basis – if you can provide any information on this, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Key guidance and support from Westminster:
Guidance on safe working (including PPE)
- BEIS has now shared its guidance for ‘Working safely during coronavirus’ and social distancing at work. It includes specific guidance around construction and other outdoor work, factories, plants and warehouse, offices, vehicles, shops, other peoples’ homes and more. This can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19
- The ADE was a consultee on this guidance.
- All employers should carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment and are encouraged to share this with employees, and where possible, publicly (expected if you have over 50 employees).
- Only go to work if you cannot work from home.
- Maintain a 2m distance at work where possible – follow the government guidance on this.
- Only use PPE where you would already have used it to provide against non-COVID-19 risks. You should not encourage precautionary use of PPE outside of clinical settings. If the risk assessment shows PPE is required, then this must be provided free of charge and fit properly. This will often mean no PPE for in-home visits.
- Employers should change shift and work patterns to reduce contact.
- In homes:
- No work if isolating with symptoms or shielding – except where there is an immediate threat to the household.
- Make prior arrangements to avoid face-to-face contact with vulnerable people (not shielding)
- Ensure ventilation, prevent movement in busy areas, etc.
- Follow general guidance on PPE.
Guidance on key workers (England) (Heat Networks)
Are all people working in the heat network sector considered key workers?
- The latest definition and advice on “key workers” can be found here. Staff needed for essential service provisions for heat network operations are considered part of the critical sector under the umbrella of “utilities” and therefore their children will be eligible for education provision. Key workers are now also eligible for testing.
- This should include essential services for planned and reactive maintenance of heat networks under consideration of the Public Health England social distancing guidance and guidance on safe working for employers and businesses.
- Companies should be mindful that not all workers in their organisations are key workers and every effort should be made to follow the guidance and work from home where possible.
Can people go to work without being a key worker?
- Yes. Where people cannot work from home and have to travel to their place of work, people can go to work considering the social distancing guidance, regardless of testing or being a key worker.
- The practical implementation of the social distancing advice will depend on the local circumstances; see examples for various industries (including accessing people’s home and construction sites).
- The statement by the Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick on extending construction working hours aims to ensure that construction sites can continue working whilst adhering to important on-site safe working practices. It will also provide flexibility to increase productivity, minimising the risks of development which will be vital to our economic recovery.
- Local planning authorities will ultimately be responsible for approving applications on extending working hours and will be able to prevent sites from extending their hours if there are reasonable grounds to do so.
- Local planning authorities should to take a swift approach and look favourably on requests to extend construction working hours temporarily to ensure safe working in line with social distancing guidelines.
- The aim is to allow construction work until 9pm, Monday to Saturday. Longer hours may be justified, especially if there are no residential dwellings nearby.
- For the Written Ministerial Statement see the Parliament website: https://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-statement/Lords/2020-05-13/HLWS230/
- Employers, the self-employed and people in control of premises, such as landlords, have a duty to identify and control risks associated with legionella. Heat network operators thus have an ongoing responsibility to their customers. Find out further information on the government website.
Furlough Scheme (Extension and Changes)
- Chancellor Rishi Sunak has confirmed the extension of the furlough scheme until 31 October 2020.
- From Wednesday 1 July, businesses will be able to bring furloughed employees back part-time, with employees paying for the hours that are worked, and the state topping up the rest up to 80% of your normal wage (up to £2,500/month).
- From August to October, the funding of the scheme will change – the amount the state pays will be reduced each month, with employers expected to contribute towards furloughed employees’ employment costs.
Bounce Back Loan Scheme
- The Bounce Back Loan Scheme is now open. More information here: https://www.british-business-bank.co.uk/ourpartners/coronavirus-business-interruption-loan-schemes/bounce-back-loans/
- A lender can provide a six-year term loan from £2,000 up to 25% of a business’ turnover. The maximum loan amount is £50,000.
- The scheme is government backed, meaning that the lender if offered a 100% guarantee of the outstanding balance (both capital and interest) if an organisation defaults.
- The Future Fund will provide UK Government loans to UK-based companies ranging from £125,000 to £5 million, subject to at least equal match funding from private investors. The fund will be open for applications from Wednesday 20 May 2020.
- These convertible loans may be a suitable option for businesses that typically rely on equity investment and are unable to access other government business support programmes because they are either pre-revenue or pre-profit.
- The Future Fund was developed by the UK Government and is being delivered by the British Business Bank.
Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme (updates)
- From Tuesday 26 May 2020, small and medium-sized employers, with fewer than 250 employees, will be able to apply to recover the costs of paying coronavirus-related Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) payments they have made to their employees.
- Employers will be able to make claims to the Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme through a new online service.
- Employers will receive repayments at the relevant rate of SSP that they have paid to current or former employees for eligible periods of sickness starting on or after 13 March 2020.
Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme Updates
- Government has extended the maximum loan size available through the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme from £50 million to £200 million.
- Loans under the expanded scheme will be made available to large businesses affected by coronavirus from w/c 25th May.
- Changes also mean companies receiving help through CLBILS and the Bank of England’s Coronavirus Corporate Financing Fund will be asked to agree to not pay dividends and to exercise restraint on senior pay
Cornavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme
- Small firms (up to £45m in turnover) can apply for a loan facility of up to £5m with no interest payable for the first 12 months.
- The government has announced that changes wil be made to the Loan Scheme to support uptake; including extending eligibility to all business impacted not just those unable to secure commercial financing, banning lenders from requiring personal guarantees for loans under £250,000 and making operational changes to accelerate lending approvals.
Bounce Back Loan Scheme
- The Bounce Back Loan will help small and medium-sized businesses to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000. The Government will guarantee 100% of the loan and there won’t be any fees or interest to pay for the first 12 months. The scheme is due to launch on 4th May 2020.
- All businesses in receipt of Small Business Rates relief and Rural Rates Relief will be eligible for a £10,000 cash grant; distributed through Local Authorities.
£750m Innovation Fund
- From mid-May onwards, Innovate UK (the national innovation support agency) will be distributing £750m to SMEs engaged in R&D through its grants and loan scheme.
- This comrpises:
- £200m in accelerated grant and loan payments to InnovationUK's existing customers on an opt-in basis
- An additional £500m to those existing customers
- £175,000 to about 1,200 companies not in receipt of InnovateUK funding
- Q1 VAT payments due between 20 March 2020 and 30 June 2020 have been deferred.
- Businesses have until 31 March 2021 to pay this back.
- No application is needed. The offer is automatic.
- Self-assessment payments due by 31 July 2020 are deferred until January 2021
On PPE equipment
- Government has announced that PPE for those on the frontline will be subject to zero VAT.
- Businesses can request extra help on outstanding tax liabilities caused by cashflow issues through HMRC’s Time to Pay system. Call their dedicated helpline on 0800 024 1222.
Commercial tenancy eviction hiatus
- Evictions are banned for commercial tenants for at least 3 months until 30 June. This is not a rental holiday and landlords are still owed rent.
Waste and Recycling
- On Tuesday 5 May, government published new guidance advising local authorities on how they can safely re-open their Household Waste and Recycling Centres
Scottish Government Support
- Planning permissions for new energy developments are now extended through the Coronavirus (Scotland) Bill. This automatically extends consents due to expire by a further 12 months: “the duration of planning permissions that would lapse within six months of the date the Act comes into force will be extended by one year from that date.
- All the latest business support relevant to Scotland can be found here: https://findbusinesssupport.gov.scot/
- Citizens Advice has created guidance on risks to consider and examples of good practice for energy suppliers and networks to support consumers affected by Covid-19