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What is the current guidance relating to Private Finance Initiatives and PF2 Projects in light of coronavirus?

On 2 April 2020, the Government issued guidance relating to Private Finance Initiatives and PF2 Projects. The guidance, which is to be enforced with immediate effect (currently due to stay in place until 30 June 2020), is one of several guidance notes issued to date.

A link to the guidance is set out below:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/877804/2020_04_01_PFI_and_COVID19_final.docx.pdf

Key messages to contracting authorities

  • PFI contractors should very much consider themselves as being part of the public sector response to the current pandemic
  • Covid-19 is not regarded as, and is not to be classified as a force majeure event
  • PFI contractors must ensure that contingency plans are up to date and have been reviewed and discussed with contracting authorities to enable the continuity of full services to respond to the pandemic and maintain vital public services
  • Contracting authorities should work closely with PFI contractors to use all available options to maintain public services during the emergency period
  • Local arrangements should be made where PFI contractors can’t deliver the agreed requirements and performance standards
  • “Best efforts” should be made by all parties for the continuation of service provision

Related FAQs

What was the purpose of the Chancellor's economic update?

On Wednesday 8 July 2020 as part of a summer ‘mini-budget’, Rishi Sunak delivered the Government’s response to the threat to millions of jobs due to the existing furlough arrangements being wound down from August 2020 until it planned to close at the end of October 2020. In a wide-ranging speech to Parliament, the Chancellor announced a number of schemes to look to protect jobs beyond October 2020, in particular in certain sectors and for those aged 18-24. As the Government releases further information over the coming days and weeks, we will add to these FAQs.

Can construction work be undertaken outside of any permitted hours to make up for site closures?

Many planning permissions contain a condition restricting the hours within which a developer can carry out construction work or are subject to an approved construction management plan setting out the permitted construction hours.

The Business and Planning Act 2020 entered the statute books on 22 July 2020. Section 16 of the Act incorporates a new S.74B into the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. The effect is that any condition/approved document which limits construction hours on a site could be amended through an application to the local planning authority. The application to the local planning authority must set out the date on which the proposed extension to construction hours shall cease (such date being no later than 1 April 2021, after which the original conditions over construction hours will resume). The local planning authority must determine the application within 14 days (beginning with the day after the application was submitted) otherwise there is deemed approval.

New guidance has been published alongside the Act and is available here

The National Lockdown Guidance states that anyone who is clinically extremely vulnerable should not attend work. What options do I have if an employee is in the clinical extremely vulnerable category but cannot do their job at home?

The now defunct Guidance for the Tier system suggested that the clinically extremely vulnerable would be treated in the same way as those who were shielding in Lockdown 1. This means that anyone who is clinically extremely vulnerable and cannot work remotely, will be entitled to SSP. These employees should receive a letter confirming that they are deemed to be clinically extremely vulnerable/shielding and you should ask for a copy of it as evidence to support a claim for SSP. It is likely that the Lockdown 3 Guidance will be the same.

You could also furlough an employee in the clinically extremely vulnerable category. Again we do not anticipate this changing.

How is an establishment defined?

The definition of a relevant establishment is a question of fact for an Employment Tribunal. Guidance from case law says that ‘establishment’ should be interpreted very broadly (so as to avoid employers escaping the need to collectively consult), and may consist of:

  • A distinct entity
  • With a certain degree of permanence and stability
  • Which is assigned to perform one or more tasks
  • Which has a workforce, technical means and a certain organisational structure to allow it to do so

However, there is no need for it to have the following:

  • Legal, economic, financial, administrative or technological autonomy
  • A management which can independently effect collective redundancies
  • Geographical separation from the other units and facilities of the undertaking
I'm self-isolating and understand that it takes some time to get a Lasting Power of Attorney registered. What can I do in the meantime to enable someone else to operate my bank account and pay my bills?

The Office of the Public Guardian is continuing to accept applications to register Lasting Powers of Attorney but their usual estimated timescale of eight to ten weeks is likely to be affected by the current situation.

Consequently, an alternative or interim measure if you need something quickly is to execute a General Power of Attorney to authorise someone to act as your Attorney to undertake day to day financial transactions for you. The General Power of Appointment only needs to be executed by you in the presence of a witness (not the Attorney) to be valid and does not need to be registered with the Court of Protection. However, the Power of Attorney would cease to have effect if you become incapable of managing your affairs. It should be seen as a stop-gap only.