A lesson in planning and communication

A lesson in planning and communication

Carrying out maintenance and refurbishment work in education facilities during the summer holidays can sometimes offer up a variety of challenges, including logistical and safety issues. Ahead of the school break, our head of client services Peter Hordley explains how challenges can be overcome through communication and planning.

The academic summer holidays provide an ideal time for the completion of maintenance and refurbishment work in empty schools, but when multiple schools require attention during this limited six or seven week window, challenges can be presented for us.

Not only is there a high demand for work from clients, but there is also a high demand for annual leave, so this can create a logistical issue which can be overcome through careful planning and communication.

We plan our workload far in advance of the busy summer period, to ensure we have the resources to complete projects and to arrange our operations around activities which may still be taking place in schools, such as exams and community group meetings.

There are, however, risks involved in this advance preparation. While most summer work is planned throughout January and February, education budgets will only be confirmed during April. This means that, when planning ahead for projects during the summer, only a proportion of these projects may actually go ahead.
Planning ahead for multiple projects, even when budgets are unconfirmed, is beneficial to the smooth running of operations. The downsides of plans being aborted are outweighed by the benefits of being able to arrange the majority of work in advance.
While forward-planning is essential for the successful completion of summer holiday work in schools, communication with stakeholders is also vital. We believe that planning work in partnership with school staff and stakeholders directly, rather than through the local authority, can offer an improved way of working.

While local authorities have a degree of knowledge about schools, such as term dates, they do not always know the inner workings of a school. For example, if a project was planned to run slightly into the first school term, staff would be able to advise on the areas which will still be available to work in during that period.

Staff can also advise on whether enabling works can be completed before the summer holiday, while we can explain the full extent of a project to staff, including design and layout, which allows any potential issues to be overcome before they arise.

Carrying out work in school environments can offer up many challenges, but the careful use of planning, partnering and communication between all parties can assist with the smooth, successful delivery of operations and ensure that all stakeholders involved remain safe.

Welcome announcements from the Budget


In light of the Brexit challenge and the deficit, big changes to the UK’s taxation system were not expected. That said, there have been a number of announcements that will be welcomed by working people, businesses and the construction industry. First, the increase in the personal allowance and higher rate bands to £12,500 and £50,000 respectively have been brought forward to April 2019. Combined with the increase in the Living Wage, this will give millions of people a boost to their net income just as the UK leaves the EU, providing a degree of stimulus to consumer spending power. Second, the two year increase in the Annual Investment Allowance as of 2019 from £200,000 to £1m per annum will encourage people to invest in fixed assets. This will reduce their tax bill by allowing 100% writing down allowances in the year of purchase on the additional £800k. Third, there’s finally a tax incentive to invest in new non-residential property with the announcement of a new structures and buildings allowance. This will allow a 2% per annum writing down allowance for non-residential construction contracted on or after the 29th October.   For Novus, this means we’ll be looking at further fixed asset investments to drive productivity. We’ll also be speaking to our clients to ensure they’re aware of the opportunity to get tax relief on non-residential property construction. In addition, the personal allowance increase will reward our hard working staff with more post tax income, which is great news.   Neil Washington, Novus Finance Director