Covid-19 statement from Highways England

Statement from Malcolm Dare, Executive Director, Commercial and Procurement, Highways England which we have been asked to share with the sector

Following my recent e-mails I am writing to update you further on Highways England’s approach to the C-19 challenges. The Highways England direction and guiding principles have not changed-they are to remain focused on safely maintaining our critical services at all times and minimising the impact on our staff, our customers and our supply chain.
From our supply perspective we are continuing to operate in a business as usual way for the foreseeable future to ensure that we continue to flow cash to all tiers of the supply chain. We aim to come out of the C-19 challenge with a supply chain that has been both supported and protected and is fit for purpose. I ask that all suppliers treat their supply chains in the same way, without a combined effort we run the risk of damaging the overall Highways supply chain.
I would like to update you on the following areas:

*Key Worker Status: Highways England will provide a letter confirming that your company has key workers that are supporting the strategic road network (SRN). This will need to be supplemented by a letter from yourselves and the employee will need to have photographic proof of identity (e.g.) staff pass, driving licence, passport etc. The letter will be able to be used to support attendance at school as well as confirming the need to travel. Examples of key workers are: site leadership teams and employees that are based full time on a construction site undertaking operational work; any employee undertaking any on site or off site safety critical work including structural / bridge inspections; any employee supporting maintenance and repair operations on the SRN; employees installing / removing temporary traffic management, installing / maintaining vehicle restraint systems and those responsible safe working practices / site leadership; employees that provide vehicle recovery services, employees that are supporting the delivery or construction / maintenance materials (e.g.) asphalt, concrete, roadside technology; employees supporting critical IT infrastructure etc. This is not exhaustive and we are open to other requests. Should you require key worker status please contact the e-mail address below with the roles and justification and the Highways England letter will be sent by return.

*Contractual Changes: We will be adjusting some commercial terms to help with the C-19 challenges. These include relaxing the place of work requirements allowing people to work from home, C-19 cost treatment and safety obligations. These details will be available by the end of the week but please discuss further with your usual contacts.

*Improved Payment Speed: In order to help suppliers cash flow we are looking to improve the speed of supplier payments. Payments will only be made for work completed and correctly invoiced, in order to help please ensure that all invoices are correct with no queries as this will allow us to pay quickly.

*Importance of Cash flowing to Tier 2+ Suppliers: I would like to continue to emphasise the above. We must come out of the C-19 challenge with a supply base that is fit for purpose at all tiers. Therefore please ensure that you continue to pay suppliers promptly and make every effort to improve the speed of payments to mirror the Highways England approach.Highways England continues to expand its use of Project Bank Accounts, should suppliers wish to adopt this approach please ask for more details via the e-mail address below.

*No Planned C-19 Delays or Cancellations: We have no plans to close any sites or delay operations due to C-19. We are operating as close to business as usual as possible. Should you have any concerns please discuss them with your usual contact and only if required escalate via the e-mail address below

*Potential Advanced Starts: Due to reduced traffic volumes we are assessing options to start some activities earlier than planned. The majority of these are in the Operations area. This also supports our approach of keeping the supply base operations as close to business as usual as possible in these challenging times. If you would like to make suggestions for potential activities please use both your usual contacts and the e-mail address below.

*Further Ideas to help the overall Highways England Supply Chain at all Tiers: We appreciate that these are challenging times. However we should also use them as an opportunity to help accelerate innovation to cope with the restrictions. We are happy to discuss options, (e.g.) accelerating the digital agenda, as well as helping to highlighting challenges that suppliers may start to see, (e.g.) hotel accommodation, builders merchant availability, red diesel supply etc. Again please use the e-mail address below to highlight any opportunities that you think we should consider that help us to operate as close to business as usual as possible, flow cash to all tiers for work completed and ensure that we maintain a fit for purpose supply chain.

*Engagement Council WebEx: This is still planned for Wednesday 1st April at 9.00am. The agenda will cover both RIS 1 and RIS 2 as well as C-19 implications. Both Peter Mumford (Exec. Dir. Major Projects) and Nick Harris (Exec. Dir. Operations) will be present. This will be an opportunity for suppliers to ask questions regarding the C-19 challenges.

For any questions please continue to use the[email protected] e-mail address.
Please keep us fully informed of any business challenges that you believe could occur, or are  experiencing, so that we can ensure a coordinated Highways England and supply chain response. Please also continue to work with your normal points of contact within Highways England on a daily basis.
Once again thank you for your help and I look forward to working with your organisations as things develop.

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