MyBuilder’s aim has always been to help homeowners find great tradespeople, and we know that even during the COVID-19 pandemic, there will still be some jobs that can’t be put on hold.
Latest government guidance
Currently, the government is saying that tradespeople can continue to work, with caveats (see below). We have seen lots of different attitudes towards trades working during the pandemic, and our approach is to not interfere or judge others based on what they choose to do.
If you do decide to continue working, the government has issued some clear guidance we’d like to share with you here:
Work carried out in people’s homes
Work carried out in people’s homes, for example by tradespeople carrying out repairs and maintenance, can continue, provided that the tradesperson is well and has no symptoms.
Again, it will be important to ensure that Public Health England guidelines, including maintaining a 2 metre distance from any household occupants, are followed to ensure everyone’s safety.
No work should be carried out in any household which is isolating or where an individual is being shielded, unless it is to remedy a direct risk to the safety of the household, such as emergency plumbing or repairs, and where the tradesperson is willing to do so. In such cases, Public Health England can provide advice to tradespeople and households.
No work should be carried out by a tradesperson who has coronavirus symptoms, however mild.
If this advice changes we will aim to update this page as quickly as we can, otherwise check the current government guidance directly.
Accessing government help
Help for the self-employed
The Chancellor has pledged support for self-employed workers in the form of a taxable grant of up to £2,500 per month. The Coronavirus Self-employment Income Support Scheme will be available to the self-employed or partnerships for three months in one lump-sum payment from the beginning of June. More details are available here.
If you’re an employer
If you run your own company with salaried employees, the government announced that you’ll be able to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) from the government - up to two weeks for each employee taking sick leave due to COVID-19. The government also announced that it will provide grants to cover up to 80% of the salary of retained workers, up to a value of £2,500 a month. More details are available here.
If you have a business property
If you run your trade business from an office or workshop and claim Small Business Rate Relief or Rural Rate Relief, new funding will be available to local authorities, giving a £10,000 grant to help meet ongoing business costs. Businesses in some sectors such as hospitality and retail will be given a business rate holiday and access to larger grants, but at the moment this will not apply to trade businesses.
The government has made it easier to access Universal Credit and Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).
You’ll be eligible to claim ESA if you’re self-employed but unable to work because you fall ill, and have at least two years of National Insurance contributions. It will pay up to £73 a week, provided you don’t have a private pension worth more than £85 a week. You’ll be able to claim from the first day of sickness rather than the eighth, as before, and be able to backdate claims to 13th March. You can apply by calling Jobcentre Plus or online.
The minimum income floor for Universal Credit is also being removed for the time being. If you’ve been running your business for a year or more, the government works out your claim based on your average earnings - if you earned over a certain amount, you would receive less credit. Removing this minimum income floor means some claimants will get extra money to make up lost earnings.
The Universal Credit standard allowance will also be increased for the next 12 months by £1,000 a year.
Help with personal finances
If you’re concerned about paying your mortgage or keeping up with loan repayments, contact your lender as soon as possible - the government has said that lenders will allow three-month “mortgage holidays” where you won’t have to pay your mortgage, with the sum added to the rest of your term. This won’t affect your credit score. Banks are also open to waiving fees for missed payments and cutting charges for accessing savings in fixed-term accounts.
There will also be a £500m Hardship Fund to support people with council tax, distributed by local authorities.
At the moment, no specific help has been offered for renters, though the government has said it will bring forward laws that will protect private renters from eviction.
If you're self-employed, your next self-assessment payments will be deferred until January 2021.
The next quarter of VAT payments is also being deferred to help businesses retain staff. No businesses will have to pay VAT from now until the middle of June, and you'll have until the end of the financial year to repay those bills.
The government has set up a dedicated helpline for self-employed people and businesses. Based on your current circumstances, they may be able to assist with setting up installment plans for payments, suspending debt collection and cancelling penalties. The helpline will be open from 8am to 8pm, Monday to Friday, and 8am to 4pm on Saturdays, with 2,000 call handlers available. You can reach it on 0800 0159 559.
MyBuilder will remain open, but in line with government advice our office staff are working from home, and like many other businesses, many of us will be juggling childcare with work over the coming weeks. We might not always be able to respond to enquiries as quickly as we’d like, so please only get in touch with urgent queries so we can help those who need it most.
We know homeowners are keen to support local businesses, like tradespeople, wherever they can, and that some jobs will need to be done regardless of what else is going on. Similarly, many people at home will be posting jobs to be done in future, so you can fill your calendar in the months ahead. MyBuilder has always been designed to be flexible, so you’re able to manage your work in line with how busy you are.
We’ll update this guide with any more useful advice as it comes up.