COVID-19 Guidance


Update: Scottish Moving Home Guidance

The Scottish government has published updated advice on home moves on its COVID-19 guidance page that will be of interest to Energy Assessors. Especially the final line on a list of bullets that specifies:

‘Visiting a residential property to undertake any activities required for the rental or sale of that property.’ This is now permitted by the Scottish government.

You can view the full advice page here: https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-moving-home

Update: Moving Home Guidance to Energy Assessors

The Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government has published further guidance on moving home during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

The coronavirus regulations have been amended by the Government to allow people to move between private residential properties. The changes outline key public health information to ensure key activities regarding moving remain safe, whilst following the ‘stay alert, contain the virus and save lives’ message and government guidance.

Following the updated guidance, energy assessors are now free to visit properties to undertake assessments and complete Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs), ensuring they follow the latest guidance for working in other people’s homes.

When undertaking assessments, energy assessors should:
• Always follow the latest government guidelines for working in other people’s homes. This may change, so it’s important to continually review
• Ensure public health guidance on social distancing is followed when carrying out assessments. Companies must ensure employees understand how to operate safely and communicate to customers
• Assessors should contact the property owner(s) prior to any assessments, ensuring they understand which areas will be assessed. All doors and access panels to the property must be open and surfaces cleaned with household cleaning products, in line with public health advice
• Assessors should be clear in any reports about any areas of the property they were unable in inspect due to public health limitations
• During a visit, members of the household must follow social distancing guidance, staying 2 metres away wherever possible. For example, by staying in another room.
• Assessors must wash their hands immediately upon entering a property, using separate towels or paper towels which need to be washed or disposed of safely after use.
• Assessments should not be carried out by a person who has coronavirus symptoms, however mild, including anyone who has been asked to self-isolate.
The guidance encourages all parties to be as flexible as possible during this difficult time, and be prepared to delay moves and key activities, including EPC assessments. If someone becomes ill with coronavirus, or has to self-isolate, it may also become necessary to delay all activities to manage the spread of the coronavirus. All assessors are advised to make provisions in managing risks. View the following government guidance on working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19) here


“Stroma Certification and the energy assessment industry welcomes this government advice.

It comes at a time where all businesses have had to cope with reduced volumes of work for 6 or more weeks. It is the first sight of a roadmap back towards normality. This ‘new normal’ however presents risks and challenges, and I must insist that all energy assessors become very familiar with the requirements and responsibilities placed upon them during this relaxation of lockdown.

The housing market is fortunately enough to be one of the first industries to begin to be released from lockdown, and as a result, there will be enviable focus on our industry. It is therefore crucial that all members act with caution, diligence, responsibility and ensure that measures are put in place to follow all the guidance and not endanger lives. The most crucial metric will be the effect on the R figure. We must not allow it to be affected by our activities.

Risks should not be taken in pursuit of fees. On that point, it is highly likely that the process of producing an EPC will take more time, and you will need to purchase PPE, hand sanitiser etc. to reduce risks.

This is exceptionally welcome news for our industry, and I recommend you speak with clients in the coming days to notify and document your procedures, disclose any additional costs or requirements in order to mitigate risks to the lowest possible level, and ensure that these are clearly recorded and understood.”

Andrew Parkin, Director of Energy Certification

More guidance for energy assessors undertaking assessments will follow in the coming days. Stroma Certification will be releasing any updated guidance to its members as soon as possible.

ESOS Guidance for Lead Assessors re Covid19 site visit restrictions.

We have received several queries from Lead Assessors regarding the completion of site energy audits due to movement restrictions during the corona virus pandemic. The Environment Agency for England, NRW for Wales and NIEA for Northern Ireland have agreed the following guidance.

Where site visits are not currently possible you can continue to complete the ESOS assessment without a site visit where sufficient energy use data and other information for the selected site(s) is available. In these instances please keep the information and decision documents in your evidence pack. A recommendation could be that further investigation is necessary for a given site to identify energy savings and these will need to be re-scheduled for completion at an appropriate date.

For organisations who are still required to complete their Phase 2 ESOS commitments they should carry on with this as best they can. If they are unable to complete their ESOS commitments due to Covid 19 restrictions then please let the appropriate regulator know as soon as possible.

Any organisation that has received an ESOS Enforcement Notice will still be expected to comply with the Enforcement Notice or inform the appropriate Regulator why they will be unable to comply. Contact details are provided below.

UK Regulators Contacts

England: Environment Agency. ESOS-enforcement@environment-agency.gov.uk
Scotland: SEPA are currently reviewing this guidance.
Northern Ireland: NIEA ipri@daera-ni.gov.uk
Wales: NRW GHGHelp@naturalresourceswales.gov.uk

The government has released further guidance (2nd April) on the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. This new advice confirms that EPC assessments can continue in certain circumstances.

During this stay at home period we appreciate that Schemes are doing their best to maintain business continuity as far as possible.

The guidance from MHCLG is that EPC assessments can continue where properties are vacant or where moving is unavoidable and the parties are unable to reach an agreement to delay. No assessments should take place if any person in the property is showing symptoms, self-isolating or being shielded.

Additional information on government advice on meeting the regulatory requirement to secure a valid energy certificate on marketing a property during this COVID-19 outbreak can be found here.

The government has released further guidance (26th March) on the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. This new guidance will be of particular interest to Energy Assessors and Surveyors, regarding surveys and work carried out in people’s homes. We recognise that further questions are likely in response to this guidance, and are awaiting further clarification from MHCLG.

Surveyors

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/government-advice-on-home-moving-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak

Surveyors should not expect to carry out non-urgent surveys in homes where people are in residence, and no inspections should take place if any person in the property is showing symptoms, self-isolating or being shielded. It may be possible to carry out some of your work online and also carry out urgent surveys on empty properties, or those where the occupants are out of the property or following guidance to stay at home and away from others.

Surveyors should follow the latest Government guidance which currently (26 March 2020) states that work carried out in people’s homes can continue, provided the tradesperson is well and has no symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19).

It is important to ensure Government guidelines are followed, including maintaining a 2 metre distance from others, and washing their hands with soap and water often for at least 20 seconds (or using hand sanitiser gel if soap and water is not available).

No work should be carried out by a person who has coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms, however mild.


Work carried out in people’s homes
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/further-businesses-and-premises-to-close/further-businesses-and-premises-to-close-guidance#work-carried-out-in-peoples-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 two-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.

Stroma Certification continue to monitor the situation relating to Covid-19 and the advice, guidance and instruction coming from Government. The Prime Minister addressed the nation on Friday 20th March to issue further guidance.

The new guidance says people should only leave their homes for one of four reasons:

  • Shopping for basic necessities such as food and medicine. Shopping trips should be as infrequent as possible
  • One form of exercise a day such as a run, walk or cycle. This should be done alone or only with people you live with
  • Any medical need, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person. This includes moving children under the age of 18 between their parents' homes, where applicable. Key workers or those with children identified as vulnerable can continue to take their children to school
  • Travelling to and from work, but only where work absolutely cannot be done from home

Even when following the above guidance, people should minimise the amount of time spent out of their homes and should keep two metres (6ft) away from people they do not live with.

Whilst the government have issued broad, national instructions, there is the allowance for people to make their own decisions on whether they should travel for work. Stroma have been asked for clarity on this point.

Whilst very much understanding the commercial realities for the assessor community we urge you to:

  • Follow all Government guidance and NHS guidance carefully on a day to day basis in respect of the Covid-19 epidemic
  • Ensure that you complete a specific and detailed risk assessment for each visit that you make, and take heed of the outcome of the assessment. The risk assessment should contain key questions relating to Covid-19, such as ‘has anyone in the property been infected with Covid-19, is anyone currently self-isolating in the property, are there any vulnerable people in the property)
  • If assessing occupied properties, consider suggesting to the occupant that they vacate the property, or isolate themselves in a single room that doesn’t need assessment while you conduct the assessment. Maintaining social distancing (min 2m apart) is key.
  • Think about wearing personal protective equipment such as disposable gloves and a mask whilst on site. Wash/sanitise your hands on entry and departure and avoid touching surfaces whilst on site.
  • Where risks are unknown or cannot be reduced, by following the general guidance issued by government, then you should postpone the assessment, until such a time that it can be properly risk assessed or the risks can be reduced.

COVID-19 FAQs

Stroma refers you to the guidance above which mirrors the broader advice given by government. Following completion of a risk assessment, covering the risks associated with Covid-19, and if you believe the work is ‘absolutely necessary’ then you can assess a property. If in any doubt then do not proceed with the assessment.

You must heed your risk assessment, observe social distancing and other advice from government and take all other necessary precautions. Make sure you wash your hands regularly, on entrance and exit from the property, and use sanitiser if possible.

You are responsible for your own health and well-being, so keep up to date with the latest government advice.

You should continue to submit any evidence requested for audit. Be aware that if you are in self-isolation or are subject to other mitigating circumstances relating to COVID-19, then let our support team know as soon as possible.
Yes, RdSAP, NDEA EPCs and ACIRs are site based methodologies and still need to complete a site visit as normal. DEC renewals do not require site visits if the building has not changed, but initial DECs must be done on site. However, you must follow current government instructions, including the advice located in the section above. This continues to be part of the usual Scheme Operating Requirements (SOR) set out by government.

Stroma Certification have cancelled all of our upcoming training courses and office based CPDs due to the outbreak of the Coronavirus, until further notice. We will be organising a series of online CPD sessions in the near future, which are currently TBC.

Additionally, Stroma will set new course dates in the near future and will announce these when it is possible to do so.

Yes. Stroma Certification will continue to utilise our usual methods of billing. If you encounter any changes in your circumstances or have trouble submitting payment at this time please contact our support team as soon as you can, so we can discuss alternative arrangements.

The government has announced a range of financial support measures for businesses, details can be found below and on the government website. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-support-for-businesses
The Chancellor has set out a package of temporary, timely and targeted measures to support public services, people and businesses through this period of disruption caused by COVID-19.
This includes a package of measures to support businesses including:

  • a Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
  • deferring VAT and Income Tax payments
  • a Statutory Sick Pay relief package for small and medium sized businesses (SMEs)
  • a 12-month business rates holiday for all retail, hospitality, leisure and nursery businesses in England
  • small business grant funding of £10,000 for all business in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief
  • grant funding of £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000
  • the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme offering loans of up to £5 million for SMEs through the British Business Bank
  • a new lending facility from the Bank of England to help support liquidity among larger firms, helping them bridge coronavirus disruption to their cash flows through loans
  • the HMRC Time To Pay Scheme

We have now deployed our remote working plan to keep our staff safe during the Coronavirus outbreak. You can now receive Certification support on 0330 124 9660, or on the email addresses provided below.
Domestic: domestic@stroma.com
Commercial: technicalsupport@stroma.com
SAP: sap@stroma.com
Code: csh@stroma.com
Training: training@stroma.com
Memberships: certification@stroma.com

  1. Issued guidance in line with government – offering advice on how to remain safe in the role.
  2. Written to the government demanding Financial support for self-employed Energy Assessors and signed this petition https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/300336
  3. Suggesting that MHCLG offer zero register lodgement fees for 3 months, once the government takes control of the register (June 12th). This would give assessors some respite whilst getting their businesses back up and running.
  4. If schools are closed until September, Stroma is supporting a PEPA driven initiative to explore the opportunity to encourage Local Authorities to get their school stock assessed – it represents low risk, empty buildings where the costs of assessment can be offset against savings for improvement works.
  5. Stroma have asked MHCLG for clarity on how Covid-19 is may impact on the launch Building Regs and therefore SAP 10.2 – the more notice the better so we can plan around this.
  6. Stroma have asked BEIS to explore relaxing the MEES regulations backstop date of 1st April 2020 until 31st July 2020 (or later) to release pressure on landlords and energy assessors. If this proves impossible due to a need to change legislation, we have suggested written confirmation that no enforcement/opening a grace period until such a date.
  7. We have also requested a statement from government relating to the 7 day/28 day marketing requirements to have an EPC ordered (within 7 days) and completed (within 28 days). Stroma suggests that as long as an EPC has been ordered within the first 7 days of a property being listed, and where an EPC cannot be completed with the 28 days due to Covid-19, then the agent is protected. The EPC will need to be produced once government reduces the risk levels. This again will relieve some pressure on the system and on energy assessors to act against government guidance.
  8. Stroma have recommended the organisation of a working group/task force to plan steps that can be taken facilitate energy assessments during a period of minimal activity, and how we can get the industry moving quickly and as painlessly as possible once we have some clarity on end dates on government action (lockdown, social distancing etc). We have suggested that PEPA, our Trade Association, could do this and report back.

Stroma welcomes all suggestions and ideas from members at this time and will look to make further contact and representation to the relevant government body. Where members have ideas on how we can get government to help our industry, then please do share them with us via email.




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