Thursday, 26 April 2018

Ransomware: how to avoid falling victim to the global threat of malicious malware

Ransomware is a growing cyber-threat that finally hit mainstream headlines in 2017, due to the Petya and WannaCry attacks that throttled the NHS and caused huge financial losses for globally-recognised businesses.

The aftermath of the attacks proved the most costly for two of the most high-profile victims of the Petya attack: Merck and Maersk.

US pharmaceutical giant Merck lost over $310million due to the production shutdown caused by the Ransomware virus. Its operations were shut down, employees weren’t even allowed to work, and it estimated $135million of the total cost of the attack was due to lost sales.

Similarly, Maersk, the largest shipping company in the world, attributed a loss of over £210million to Petya as the majority of its 76 ports were shut down. So severe was the attack, the company had to deal with no IT infrastructure whatsoever for 10 days, and manually dealt with arrivals at its ports every 15 minutes.

This infographic from UK IT support company TSG presents some key statistics on the growth of Ransomware, as well as tips on how to avoid falling victim to this omnipresent threat.



from The UK Construction Blog

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Transformation of UCL’s world-class Law teaching facilities completed by Gilbert-Ash

Award-winning UK construction, refurbishment and fit out contractor,
Gilbert-Ash, has recently completed an extensive £16.2m rebuilding and remodelling of UCL’s renowned Faculty of Laws facilities in Camden, London.

The works connected the University’s past with its future, fully integrating a Grade II listed building, Bentham House, with a neighbouring mid-20th century building, Hillel House which housed the Gideon Schreier and Graduate Wings, within the predominantly Georgian conservation area. The adjacent building was significantly remodelled including a major extension at the rear and a completely new exterior fa├žade with Portland stone, complementing UCL Laws original historic home.

With a growing UCL student and Faculty body, Gilbert-Ash delivered a high-quality, technically advanced, bright space, reflecting modern methods of learning. Working closely with leading architects Levitt Bernstein, the development also comprises a central social hub, state-of-the-art research facilities and cutting-edge office and teaching areas.

The two buildings are now linked across all levels, with floor-to-ceiling windows, maximising the natural light and a new spacious atrium improving the student and Faculty experience. The development incorporates sustainability features, including a bio-diverse roof with photovoltaic arrays.

Rodney Coalter, Project Manager, Gilbert-Ash, commented, “Working closely with UCL, Levitt Bernstein and the whole redevelopment supply chain, we are really pleased with the high-end teaching facility that has been created.  It enhances the learning environment and experience for both students and faculty, as well as visitors and alumni. Recognising the renowned reputation of UCL, the redevelopment also aims to build on the traditions and character of the University whilst providing an extended, modern space for continued ambitious learning and socialising.”

Professor Piet Eeckhout, Dean, UCL Laws said: “I am absolutely thrilled to have the pleasure to welcome the Faculty back home to Bentham House. UCL Laws has, at long last, a home fit for our world-leading research, teaching and social enterprise. The project has given the Faculty more than a building: it’s given us an inspiring environment in which our whole community can come together.”

Professor Dame Hazel Genn, UCL Project Sponsor said, “At the very core of the vision for redeveloping Bentham House has always been how the building will support, inspire and motivate the world-class teaching and thriving research culture within UCL Laws.

“The highly creative plans for the building have seamlessly married the much-loved traditional spaces with bright, modern facilities, giving our Faculty a home that reflects and respects its heritage, while also supporting and driving its forward-thinking, global agenda.”

The UCL Faculty of Laws development is part of a larger scheme, Transforming UCL, the largest capital programme in the university’s history. It will see substantial investment of over £1.2 billion over a 10-year period to refurbish and develop some of UCL’s most iconic buildings whilst also bringing forward new world class buildings to enable continued growth.

Highly detailed design, advanced logistical planning and development goes into every Gilbert-Ash project, with the team skilled in delivering the finest quality projects in the UK and globally.

from The UK Construction Blog

Monday, 23 April 2018

Bill proposes greater security for SME construction contractors

Bill proposes greater security for SME construction contractors

A change to the way UK construction companies deal with contractors may be imminent as MPs get set to debate the second reading of a proposed new Bill later this month.

The Construction (Retention Deposit Schemes) Bill is seeking to ensure retention money (payments to contractors that are withheld for an agreed period of time after the completion of a project) is held in a ring-fenced trust.

According to construction law experts at Manchester firm Slater Heelis the Bill, if passed, will offer greater financial security to SME construction contractors.

Matt Grellier, head of construction & engineering at Slater Heelis, said: “Employers rarely place retention in a separate bank account held on trust. This exposes contractors to financial risk as the money is not ‘ring-fenced’ in the event of employer insolvency.

“The collapse of Carillion has amplified the concerns of many SME contractors. The new Bill proposes that retention monies are placed in a Government approved scheme, similar to that which applies for deposits taken from shorthold tenancies.”

According to Government figures, almost £8bn of cash retentions have remained unpaid over the past three years and with no ring-fencing in place retention cash can be used to pay other creditors in the event of employer insolvency, leaving contractors out of pocket.

According to Mr Grellier, even if the Bill is passed, contractors must not become complacent over the terms of contracts into which they enter.

He added: “Contractors must still ensure they protect themselves in the terms of their contract to ensure prompt payment.

“It pays to be on your guard in relation to bespoke amendments to ‘standard form’ building contracts. Amendments to provisions regarding payment, defects and time for completion may have knock-on effects on retention release.

“Contractors should risk review payment terms pre-contract formation. Contractual ‘milestones’ in relation to payment should be diarised so that key dates are not missed.”

The Construction (Retention Deposit Schemes) Bill is set to be debated by MPs in the House of Commons on Friday 27 April.

from The UK Construction Blog

Friday, 20 April 2018

York council terminates Interserve Guildhall revamp contract

City of York Council is terminating its £9m Guildhall development contract with Interserve.

The two stage contract has been ended after costs came in over budget on the first stage.

The council said: “The first phase has now completed and the council has reflected on the current approach to developing this complex and historic site.

“As a result, the construction phase will not progress and instead, the council will consider options before inviting new bids from the market.”

Interserve was working with SES Engineering Services and hosted a supply chain event late last year to find subcontractors after being awarded the deal last August.

Construction was originally due to start early this year.

Neil Ferris, director of economy and place, City of York Council said: “I can confirm we have terminated our contract with Interserve to develop the Guildhall.

“We set-up the contract following government procurement rules and as such, included a contractual break point after the first stage of the contract.

“We recognised from the start that given the site complexity and risks around the foundation structure, there was always the chance that estimate would be higher than anticipated.

“We structured the procurement in this way to protect York residents from potentially spiralling costs.

“We remain committed to the Guildhall development and are excited about the potential it offers local businesses, communities and visitors.

“Our next steps are to review options to reduce costs, such as revising the scale, scope or access arrangements to the site and we will invite members to confirm their preferred option in May.

“In the meantime, to reduce delays, we will progress less disruptive works, such as fitting new utilities.”

from The UK Construction Blog

Monday, 16 April 2018

PSH. forms new leadership team to position business for exponential growth

Leading engineering consultancy PSH. has promoted four of its team to director roles as part of a re-structure as the firm lays foundations ahead of its ambitious growth plans for the next five years.

Ian Law and Andrew Haskins have been promoted to directors for the Mechanical team.  Charlie Cross becomes director for Electrical, and Mark Whitfield is now director of Project Management. Photographs of the newly promoted directors can be downloaded here.

PSH, provides specialist mechanical, engineering and plumbing (MEP) services to the real estate and construction industry.  Its current clients include Centrica, Crosstree, Legal & General, GLH Hotels, Marriot International, Cadogan Estates, Quintain and Rockwell. Over the last 15 years PSH. has enjoyed rapid expansion and now includes more than 30 professional members of staff across its offices in London and Wokingham. 

Peter Scholes, Managing Director, PSH. said: “PSH. has an established reputation across the property sector as a highly recommended and trusted MEP building services expert. With the skills and experience of Ian, Andrew, Charlie and Mark behind them, our highly skilled teams will continue to work with some of the biggest players in the real estate sector, across all different areas of the market.”

PSH. has increased its annual turnover year-on-year since launch in 2003 and has ambitious growth plans over the next five years.  The initial stage of this includes establishing a new leadership team with sector and services specialisms.

Peter Scholes, said: “PSH. has worked hard to build an experienced and professional team, with unrivalled market knowledge and sector experience.  We have an excellent track record of repeat business and our client list includes some of the very best names operating in the sector today.  The re-structure will enable us to develop a more agile approach across the company as we grow, giving our clients an even better service.”

PSH. provides full MEP building services, as well as offering sustainability, vertical transportation, BIM, fire services and acoustics advice to developers, consultants and contractors across all sectors of the property and construction industry.

from The UK Construction Blog

Tuesday, 10 April 2018


A leading utilities and construction training provider has added its voice to calls for change in the Apprenticeship Levy.

As latest figures showed a 25 per cent slump in new apprentices, Chris Wood, CEO of Develop Training, said: “The government should take action and make structural changes to the Levy.”

Develop Training, whose customers include some of the biggest names in construction and household name utility companies, has called for three adaptations to the scheme.

  • Make the Levy more flexible by extending the time allowed to use funds beyond the current two years
  • Widen apprenticeship choice
  • Unshackle the de facto value cap on apprenticeships, a move which would help training firms to deliver more schemes

Mr Wood added that employers also needed to get to grips with the scheme: “There are issues with how the Levy works, but it could be argued that a major cause of the problem remains ignorance of the Levy and its implications.”

He said a cut in the rate of the Levy, which some have called for, was highly unlikely as it could be politically suicidal and fail to address underlying skills shortages. Conversely, raising the rate, in an attempt to put more pressure on employers to make use of it may negatively impact the important work performed by other separately levy-funded bodies such as the CITB and ECITB.

More flexibility in the scheme, allowing Levy funding to pay for different kinds of training, might help, he said, welcoming news that more firms were implementing higher level apprenticeships.

This month (April) marks the first anniversary of the Levy, which requires larger employers to invest in apprenticeships or forfeit their contribution to the scheme. However, preliminary government figures released at the end of March showed a 25 per cent drop in the number of people starting apprenticeships in the first two quarters of 2017/18. This led to employer organisations, including the Engineering Employers Federation and the CBI, to renew calls for an overhaul.

The government pointed out that the latest figures are preliminary, and also welcomed the rise in higher level training being provided under the Levy.

from The UK Construction Blog

Monday, 9 April 2018

More buildings hit by Scottish school collapse defects

Construction faults have been found at 19 more public buildings across Edinburgh in the wake of a wall collapse at Oxgangs Primary School in the city.

A report from watchdogs at the Accounts Commission confirms the scale of problems unearthed by investigatiors since the school wall failure.

Nine tonnes of masonry came crashing down in 2016 at Oxgangs due to missing wall header ties.

Seventeen schools were closed following the incident.

Now it has emerged that further problems have been found at schools, libraries, community centres and care homes across the city.

The Accounts Commission report states: “At the end of January 2018, of the 154 properties where assessments had been completed, 19 properties had been identified as having issues similar to those identified at Oxgangs School.

“Remedial work to address the defects identified on these buildings (which include schools, libraries, community centres and care homes) is ongoing.”

The Commission is now calling on all councils to improve their checks on construction work.

It said: “The report emphasises the importance of all councils undertaking regular, comprehensive structural risk assessments and inspections on public buildings to ensure the safety of service users.

“Where a council employs a company to provide construction services, it’s vital that it puts in place appropriate checks and controls.”

Graham Sharp, Chair, Accounts Commission said: “While reduced resources mean councils must make difficult decisions about service provision, they should have an appropriate level of expertise to deliver and safely maintain buildings.

“People must have confidence in the safety and integrity of public buildings.”

from The UK Construction Blog

Wednesday, 4 April 2018


TIMco, one of the UK’s largest independent suppliers of screws, fasteners, fixings and power tool accessories, are launching their latest and biggest catalogue to date as well as unveiling brand new ranges at the NMBS show at the Ricoh Arena, Coventry on the 11th April.

The catalogue will feature 6,500 product lines including an array of new ranges from screw caps and covers to aerosols, wood glues and wood fillers. The largest catalogue to date will also see the extension of existing ranges including the addition of wagon ropes and brick lines to the VETO range as well as a further extension to the new TAURUS range.

During the show, TIMco will also be hosting visitors at their stand with freshly made coffees and an array of refreshments. Customers can take time out at the stand and discuss the new products/ranges by visiting TIMco on stands 265, 266 and 269.

Simon Midwood, Managing Director of TIMco comments: “The NMBS show is one of our biggest events in the calendar, with a lot of our customers attending the show – making it the perfect place to launch our biggest ever catalogue and see our customers’ feedback first hand. We can’t wait to have a coffee and a chat with visitors about our exciting new product launches and range extensions.”

For more information on the NMBS show or to register for tickets to the show, visit:


TIMco is headquartered in Nantwich, Cheshire and imports and supplies more than 6,500 product lines from around the world to distributors throughout the UK, Ireland and Europe.  The company was established in 1972 and now employs 137+ members of staff from its offices in the UK, Ireland and Taiwan.  For more information, visit

from The UK Construction Blog

Tuesday, 3 April 2018


Workers are being urged to claim back their tax rebates before the deadline passes.

The call comes from tax recovery specialists Brian Alfred who have claimed back more than £36 million for clients in overpaid tax.

According to the firm, around a third of tax payers are due a rebate in the UK and claims can range from £1,500 to £7,300 for people working in the construction industry.

Workers who are either part of the Construction Industry Scheme (CIS) or Pay As You Earn (PAYE) are all eligible to apply and rebates can be claimed for the last four tax years.

However anyone who fails to put their claim in before April 6th will permanently lose the chance to claim a rebate for the 2013/2014 tax year.

Derek Kelly, CEO, Brian Alfred said: “Each year millions of pounds of hard earned money goes unclaimed. The time is now fast approaching to get your tax rebate claims in, as you can only go back four years at a time, so basically if you haven’t claimed a rebate for the year 2013/14, it’s either do it before April 6th or forever lose the opportunity for that year.

“Whatever your trade or profession, we are here to help you. The tax rebates really can make a difference and it is money that people are entitled to and have worked hard for.”

According to Brian Alfred it’s simple things that people don’t realise they can claim for, from travel expenses to work uniforms to equipment and even food costs. 

Derek added: “You can claim refunds for a range of things, but regulations are complicated, and it can take an expert to get the correct amount of rebate from the HMRC!” 

Brian Alfred is one of the UK’s leading CIS and PAYE tax rebate specialists and has helped thousands of people get their tax rebates, some in as little as 24 hours. 

To find out if you could qualify for a tax rebate visit their free online tax rebate calculator

from The UK Construction Blog