COVID-19 Guidance


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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