Rory Kennedy, DfE’s Director of Capital set out the DfE’s approach to capital projects in his letter to schools yesterday. The letter outlines DfE’s position on capital funding and how schools’ responsible bodies can address their building projects in light of Covid-19. Key points are as follows;
DfE Capital Projects
The DfE are keen to continue progressing into contract and continue building works where possible.
The DfE expect all contractors to apply Public Health England(PHE) guidance and take steps to ensure their employees are able to follow the guidance.
Timescales are expected to be affected due to Covid-19, however the DfE will maintain a regular update on this.
Schools managing their own projects are advised to keep close contact with their named DfE lead about any potential delays, each project will be reviewed on a case by case basis.
Capital Funding Allocations and Bid-based Programme
School Condition Allocations (SCA) and Devolved Formula Capital (DFC) allocations for eligible Trusts and schools have been published. Responsible bodies will be able to take 2020-21 allocations into account when making decisions about planned works.
LAs have been informed of their Basic Needs Allocations for places needed in September 2020 and 2021.
Condition Improvement Fund
Applications continue to be assessed and moderated with a view to announcing the outcomes in June.
The DfE advices that it is up to individual contractors/consultants to decide whether they can continue the works safely and in line with advice from Public Health England. If you think that your project will be delayed, you do not, at this point in time, need to submit a scope change request. Rather, the DfE asks that you submit a scope change request once you have agreed a revised timescale with the contractor for your project. You should continue to submit project monitoring returns as normal. Returns are required every quarter, whether or not payments are outstanding.
The DfE will continue to pay and monitor current CIF projects as per the grant agreements and terms and conditions for projects that continue to be delivered.
T Level Capital Fund
Applications submission deadline has been extended to 26 June 2020.
It is advised that all schools and contractors act as responsible clients and service providers/suppliers by adhering to PHE guidelines at all times, ensure the sites are safe and all decisions about work continuing are taken safely in line with PHE advice.
Contract terminations, force majeure clauses, etc. should be taken in consultation with own legal advisors
The Government’s position on construction is that work should continue safely where possible within PHE guidelines. The guidance recognises that construction jobs cannot be undertaken at home and requires certain people to travel, provided they or anyone in their households are not self-isolating. Employers including contractors must ensure their employees are able to follow PHE advice in office and onsite.
Health and Safety
Responsible bodies must ensure their buildings remain safe, healthy and well maintained for staff and students when they return. DfE’s guidance on Good estate management can be found here .