Locked down, we may be, but for British van drivers, the reality is that many of you are still out on the road. Recent news stories show that there has been a resurgence of work for tradespeople since the first lockdown, but many are suggesting that this should not be allowed during a national lockdown. In fact, SAGE, the Government advisory committee, has urged the government to only allow tradesmen in to people’s homes to carry out work which is classed as ‘critical’ or cannot be delayed as a result of health and safety.
Currently, tradespeople are working as normal (besides wearing masks indoors and observing social distancing policies), but there are currently no restrictions on the kind of work they can do.
Coming to the aid of the trades, is one industry group, the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed, who are claiming that stopping tradespeople from working would be vastly unfair, given that many are self-employed and have slipped through the net of being offered any government financial support during lockdown. Short term contractors and some employed by limited companies on zero or low hours contract have also been excluded from any meaningful support through the Chancellors support plans.
They say that as many as 1.5 million tradespeople have been excluded from support and need to do what they can to simply get by. A limit placed on what tradespeople can and can’t do, or restrictions on the construction industry could be catastrophic, particularly as they are unable to follow government advice to work from home, where possible. Many point to the contradictory nature of some of the government advice, where, for example, people working in nurseries or going to church are allowed to gather en masse, but those in trades who are carrying out work, which can often include vital updates to heating and plumbing or other essential services, are being told that they may have to stop working unless it is truly urgent.
We hope for the tradespeople of the UK that the current rapid roll out of the vaccination programme and the reduction in COVID cases continues and that work can carry on, if not quite as usual, at least in a way that puts food on the table.