• We have had to close the office and divert the telephone to one mobile number. Therefore we may be very busy, so please bear with us. Please don't forget you can email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you have specific technical queries.

    COVID-19: government support for businesses.

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    CAI COVID-19 UPDATES

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CAI & Coronavirus 20/03/2020

As with many organisations, we are working through the implications of the current pandemic, and also trying to think of ways we can help members. If there are any additional services or information you feel we could provide at this time, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. As I’ll explain below, there could be times when it takes longer than usual to get through to us on the phone, but you can always use This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for queries or requests.

From many of your customer’s point of view, your services could be more important than ever before.  Access to TV, radio and broadband, for news and entertainment, has never been more important, especially to the vulnerable groups and older people who’ve already been told to stay at home for at least the next 12 weeks.  Hopefully, for those of you who undertake domestic work this will provide some additional business during the economic crisis that is accompanying the health one.  If ever there was a 4th emergency service it is our members now, not the AA.  We’ve had several queries asking whether our members and their staff could be described as key workers.  We’ve had no official guidance on this yet, but have sought it.  In the meantime we feel a common sense approach is required.  From a schools perspective it’s unlikely that many of our members would be classed as telecommunications engineers and thus entitled to keep sending their children in.  However from the perspective of the potential of an increasingly strict lockdown, we feel that the job you’re undertaking is the decider of whether or not you can consider yourself, or your staff, as key workers undertaking essential travel.  If you’re restoring the PSB’s and access to news, information and entertainment to an old people’s home or a vulnerable customers house, I don’t think anyone would argue that it’s not an essential task, if you’re upgrading a customer’s home cinema system, then maybe not.  Fortunately we haven’t reached the stage when even those who can’t work from home are being told to stay in, but it could yet come.

We also completely recognise though, that this will be a tough time for many members, especially those with contracts in the leisure, hospitality and retail sectors, as well as those working on sites that will close down if there are large numbers of staff absent, or if the developers decide to delay projects due to the economic uncertainty.  There are no easy solutions to this, but we hope you’re investigating all the government support available and we’re also hoping there will be more announcements of help to come. 

We’re currently developing guidance regarding working in customers’ homes, and contacts with them. But in the meantime common sense and government advice applies – wash your hands or use hand sanitiser containing at least 60% alcohol, whenever you arrive at and leave a customer, and any points in between you feel appropriate,  try to keep at least 2m away from them, wear gloves if you feel necessary, and wear a mask if you have any concerns about the customers health or that of their wider household.  Clearly your, and your staffs, health and safety is a matter for you alone, but it’s essential you’re all ensuring that everyone stays as safe as possible.

Lastly, for now, as you can imagine we’re having to make changes to the way we work at CAI. As far as we can we need to work from home, and are currently undertaking the steps required to enable this to happen.  However our telephone system is not adaptable in this way.  Consequently it’s likely that one of us will be in the office answering the phone every day.  This means that it may take longer to get through than usual, and as we are not all able to answer all queries we may have to take messages and get someone to call you back some of the time.  So please bear with us during this time.

As I said at the top, we’re keen to help in any way we can, so please get in touch if you have requests or ideas for ways we can do this. Lastly we wish you, your staff, families, suppliers and customers good health, and we hope that we all come out of this as quickly as possible.

CAI Coronavirus Advice and Update 23/03/2020

At this unprecedented time, we are working hard to establish some official advice or guidelines regarding the work you do.  However, in the meantime, we’d like to try to help as best we can.

We’ve published a link to the Government help for businesses page on our website, so you can easily research the policies put in place to help you at this difficult time. 

In terms of safe working and the types of jobs you undertake, we’d recommend the following, in advance of any formal guidance:

  • If you have any staff who can work from home, they should.
  • High risk staff, customers and suppliers could include those with compromised immune systems, those with conditions such as diabetes, cancer, chronic lung and cardiovascular disease, older people and pregnant women. Special care should be exercised for these groups and contact avoided.
  • Work should be restricted to external/outdoor as far as is possible.
  • Ensure staff are aware of all control measures and government guidance re distancing.
  • Ensure staff are equipped with the right additional PPE, including gloves, masks, hand sanitisers, anti-bac wipes and tissues/paper towels.
  • Contact domestic customers before a staff member arrives and ask covid 19 at risk questions regarding recent travel abroad of any household member and whether anyone in the household has had contact with anyone who has had a confirmed case of coronavirus, has been advised to self-isolate, or is awaiting test results. If none of these apply then you can undertake a visit. Warn customers that engineers may be using additional PPE such as masks and gloves. If the customer has travelled abroad in the last 2 weeks, or answers yes to any questions explain that the engineer cannot visit for 14 days.
  • Ensure staff maintain a distance of at least 2m from any members of the household.
  • Ensure staff wash/sanitise their hands on arrival and departure, and use anti-bac wipes on equipment they have touched, including remote controls.

We still feel that work to provide customers with access to Public Service Broadcasters, news and entertainment is important and should be completed when possible, especially if the customer does not have access to these services via alternate sources. We also feel that some work is far from essential and you should consider whether to undertake it.

This is a fast moving situation, as you’re all aware, and we will try to keep you updated with our recommended best practice and guidelines as often as possible.   

Coronavirus Update 24/03/2020

As we have previously stated, the current pandemic situation remains a fast moving and complicated one.

Our previous advice has been based on several factors.  Domestically we knew that the Government didn’t want citizens to be without TV if possible.  They were especially aware that many of the highest risk group, who were told to stay at home for 12 weeks, were least able to cope without TV services for news updates and for entertainment, especially those living on their own.  We were also conscious that many of those people would refuse to live without their TV service for any length of time, and if CAI members were not working they could well end up being taken advantage of by less ethical and scrupulous parts of the trade, or other trades, receiving a poor service and probably paying too much for it. Lastly we were aware that the Government told Sky that as Telecommunications Field Engineers working in the broadcast industry their SHS field staff did qualify as Key Workers, so the same could apply to CAI Members.

From a commercial work perspective it’s also complicated, especially as the different nations of the UK aren’t necessarily following the same rules.  So far sites have not been forced to close, although in Scotland they have announced they will be. The government has again repeated this morning that in England work on construction sites, in the open air, should continue.  We know many of our members are self-employed, and feel they need to go to work to be able to afford to live. We, like them, really hope the Government announce further financial protection for them very soon, in order that staying at home becomes an affordable option.

The Government, while telling us all to stay at home, have still said that going to work is acceptable if it’s essential.  They have not clarified exactly what jobs are essential.  They are, and have been, 100% clear that whenever possible you should be at home.

We are urgently trying to get clarity from the Government this morning.  Whether they still believe that people should not be without a TV service, and therefore, with the correct precautions, members should still service those customers who are without reception,  and any further updates for sites and commercial work beyond what’s already been announced. Many others will also be looking for information – from mechanics who could be working on a NHS employee’s car, to builders, plumbers and electricians so we fear we will not get a very speedy response, but we will do everything we can to get some clarity as soon as possible.

Unfortunately it is therefore impossible to give any definite advice, except to stay at home while we try to obtain further information.  Even if you think you are carrying out an essential service, it doesn’t mean you should leave home without further guidance.  We know that although they believe they are classed as key workers, Sky field engineers are pausing all home visits this morning while they review the situation, and also talk to the Government particularly regarding vulnerable customers who lose all viewing service.  

We have obviously been forced to close the office.  Unfortunately our current telephone system is not sophisticated enough to forward to more than one number.  So please bear with us if you’re trying to get in touch.  Don’t forget you can email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and you can call Kevin Dawson on 07850 458077 with any technical questions you have. 

These are unprecedented times, we continue to try to serve our members to our fullest ability, but please bear in mind we can only pass on the information we obtain, we cannot legally set policy itself in these areas.  We sincerely hope you and yours stay safe and well.

Coronavirus Update 25/03/2020

As we have previously stated, the current pandemic situation remains a fast moving and complicated one.

Further to our update yesterday we wanted to let you know the current situation;

  • It is up to each member company to decide whether or not they can safely carry out work, using the Public Health England guidance, and if they cannot they must stay at home.
  • The Government has included the following types of worker as among the key worker list:

            Telecommunications Engineers, Field Engineers and Broadcasters.

  • Sky are recommencing home visits today. The Government have confirmed that they class their field engineers and call centre staff as Key Workers. They are only carrying out work to keep people connected to TV or Broadband services, they are not carrying out non-essential work, such as Sky Q updates.
  • We are in contact with DCMS to get some official guidance re TV services but haven’t received it yet, they have however issued guidance re Broadband services:

            For engineers who have been designated as key workers, they may go to   people’s homes but obviously there is no guarantee the residents will allow        them in. We would recommend that whatever workarounds you can agree           on an industry basis to avoid engineers having to enter people’s premises but             still maintain connectivity to them are used - even if it’s passing cable via a     window in some cases.

  • DMSL/@800 Are also still visiting people in their homes, if they lose Public Service Broadcaster viewing, with DCMS support. They are limiting home visits to only those who have no other means of accessing PSB’s and only if they’ve lost viewing of one or more of those channels, not if they’ve lost viewing of other channels not seen as core. They are limiting their work to outdoors whenever possible and are following the steps we’ve previously issued around pre-visit contact, not carrying out the visit if anyone has symptoms or is self-isolating.  Their call centre staff and field engineers are still directing customers to getmeviewing.org.uk (CAI member listing website) if they do not qualify for help under clearance or 4G mitigation schemes, as always.  Their operations are under constant review, however.
  • We’re aware that some distributors are closing their trade counters and moving to delivery only services, or closing altogether.
  • We remain concerned that if all members cease all work, other, less skilled or less scrupulous companies will carry out the work, putting consumers – especially the vulnerable who most rely on TV for contact with the world – at increased risk.

It remains the case that the Government believe that citizens do need continued access to Broadband and TV services, for home working, home schooling and to receive news updates, as well as for entertainment at this difficult time. So, we feel we need to advise you to take a common sense approach to work:

  • If the aerial/dish is the only means for that household (including in MDU’s) to receive PSB’s (i.e./ they do not have cable, satellite or the ability to stream news content) then it might be considered critical to restore their service.
  • A broadband service is also critical if anyone is working or learning from home, or if it’s the households only way to receive PSB services.
  • If you’re carrying out either of the above tasks, we would class you as key workers carrying out essential works.

If anyone is symptomatic of the virus in the household then obviously an engineer should stay clear.

If they are not symptomatic then an engineer might attend but observe strict social distancing (2m min) and strict hand hygiene (hand washing, disposable gloves, anti bac wipes for remotes etc, as previously advised) before and after the visit.

It's an individual choice for members to take a risk judgement on this.  They need to balance the risk to everyone and to be able to justify why they are not staying at home. No one should be forced to go to work if they don’t think it’s safe, or morally the right thing to do.

Regarding site work, it seems that the London Government is going to continue insisting that sites can remain open if they can be operated under PHE guidelines, the Scottish Government (and London Mayor, though he has no power over this) disagree and think they should be closed.  Many developers are closing sites.  As with domestic work, we believe this is a judgement call for every member involved, and members should only work on sites if they believe they can do so safely and are working outdoors.  We believe the chancellor should be announcing new measures for the self-employed today, which may well make this decision easier for you.

As we said yesterday, we have had to close the office and divert the phones to one mobile number.  Unfortunately, we have to rely on BT to divert the phones on our behalf.  They said yesterday morning it could take up to 24 hours, but at the time of writing it still hasn’t occurred.  We are chasing them obviously, but in the meantime don’t forget you can email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or ring Kevin with Technical queries on 07850 458077.

We continue to engage with all relevant authorities on your behalf, but hope this advice is useful.  We believe it’s unlikely that DCMS will issue guidance that is significantly different to the above – at least this morning – though things change very quickly of course.

Please stay well and safe, and do the right thing for yourselves, staff, suppliers and customers.

CAI Members Coronavirus e-connect 27/03/2020

Now that we haven’t had any major changes to the restrictions on work, travel etc, we thought we should highlight the Governments help that may be available to your business, especially in light of the announcement regarding the self-employed yesterday:

  • Self Employed Income Support Scheme. The Government will pay self-employed workers 80% of their average monthly income over the last 3 years up to a maximum of £2500.
  • This will initially cover 3 months and is open to existing self-employed workers, who earn the majority of their income through self-employment with trading profits up to £50,000 per annum.
  • The Government believe that the system will take until June to set up, when the qualifying workers will get 3 months payment in a lump sum.
  • If you haven’t already filed a tax return for 2018/19 you now have 4 weeks from 26th March to do so.
  • In the meantime they state that businesses could be able to access funding through the Business Interruption Loan Scheme, or individuals could qualify for Universal Credit.
  • People who pay themselves salary and dividend through their own company are not covered, although 80% of the salary element could be covered under the Coronavirus Jobs Retention Scheme below, if you’re part of the PAYE system.

You can find the details announced so far at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/chancellor-gives-support-to-millions-of-self-employed-individuals

There are also a range of measures designed to support businesses, although previously announced there has been an update to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme this morning, some or all of which you may be able to access:

  • The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme: HMRC will pay employers a grant worth 80% of an employee’s usual wage costs, up to £2,500 a month, plus the associated Employer National Insurance contributions and minimum automatic enrolment employer pension contributions on that subsidised wage.
  • Income tax and VAT payment deferral: VAT Payments can be deferred for 3 months, for VAT due between 20/03/20 and 30/06/20. Self-assessment payments on account, due 31/07/20 can be deferred to 31/01/21
  • If you currently receive Small Business Rate Relief or Rural Rates Relief, you are entitled to a £10,000 grant from the Government. This will be paid by your local authority who collects Business Rates and you do not need to apply for it.
  • Loans of up to £5 million will be made available in the Business Interruption Loan Scheme

You can find out more at:

www.businesssupport.gov.uk

TrustMark has released the following on behalf of the National Trading Standards and Friends Against Scams with regards to the coronavirus and how you can access support and safeguard yourself against scams.

As a reminder, we would like to reiterate the government and NHS guidelines about maintaining good hygiene; only go outside for food, health reasons or essential work, and stay two metres away from other people outside of your household.

This is particularly important for people who are over 70 and/or have an underlying health condition.  Things such as Facebook Community Groups, WhatsApp Groups and the Nextdoor social network that send neighbourhood alerts can be great ways of staying in touch with those around you, however, it can be difficult to know who to trust.  Please be aware that not everyone out there is trustworthy and some people will take advantage of this unusual situation our society is facing.

Here are just some of the scams we are aware of, but please note that criminals come in all shapes and sizes and can contact you at the door, by phone, post or online:

Be aware of people offering miracle cures or vaccines for coronavirus – there is no specific treatment for coronavirus (COVID-19). Treatment aims to relieve the symptoms until you recover.

Home cleaning services

People impersonating healthcare workers, claiming to be offering ‘home-testing’ for coronavirus – this is a scam and these kits are not currently available to buy.

Emails saying that you can get a refund on taxes, utilities or similar are usually bogus and they are just after your personal and bank details.

There are lots of fake products available to buy online that say they can protect you or cure coronavirus. These will not help and are designed to take your money.

There are new mobile phone applications that claim to give you updates on the virus but instead, they lock your phone and demand a ransom.

Your bank or the police will never ask for your bank details over the phone.

People offering to do your shopping or collecting medication and asking for money upfront and then disappearing.

Tips to avoid being scammed:

Be cautious and listen to your instincts. Don’t be afraid to hang up, bin it, delete it or shut the door.

Take your time; don’t be rushed.

If someone claims to represent a charity, ask them for ID. Be suspicious of requests for money up front. If someone attempts you into accepting a service they are unlikely to be genuine. Check with family and friends before accepting offers of helps if you are unsure.

If you are online, be aware of fake news and use trusted sources such as .gov.uk or NHS.uk websites. Make sure you type the addresses in and don’t click on links in emails.

Only purchase goods from legitimate retailers and take a moment to think before parting with money or personal information.

Know who you’re dealing with - if you need help, talk to someone you know or get in touch with your local Council on the numbers below.

Protect your financial information, especially from people you don’t know. Never give your bank card or PIN to a stranger.

Contact information:

If you think you’ve been scammed, report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 and if you need advice, call the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 0808 223 1133. If you are in immediate danger, contact the police on 999.  Contact your bank if you think you have been scammed.

To learn more about different types of scams and how to protect yourself and others, visit www.FriendsAgainstScams.org.uk and complete the free online training.

Why not become a Scam Marshal? A Scam Marshal is any resident in the UK who has been targeted by a scam and now wants to fight back and take a stand against scams. Scam Marshals do this by sharing their own experiences, helping others to report and recognise scams and sending any scam mail that they receive to the National Trading Standards Scams Team so that it can be utilised as evidence in future investigative and enforcement work. Visit www.FriendsAgainstScams.org.uk/ScamMarshals for more information and to sign up.

Read it. Share it. Prevent it.

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