Getting Through the Pandemic Together

16th June 2020

An article from guest writer RiFT. Thank you.

One Hand Washes the Other: Getting Through the Pandemic Together

With so many of us being kept at arm’s length by the COVID-19 crisis, it’s more important than ever that we reach out to one another. This dreadful disease has torn families and friends apart, and seen physically or emotionally vulnerable people cut off from the lifelines of support they depend on. RIFT was first founded on the simple idea of helping construction workers level the taxation playing field. We’ve been doing that for over 20 years now, and our partnerships with charities like The Lighthouse Club allow us to do even more.

Easing the burdens on construction industry families is complicated and essential work – and no one knows this better than The Lighthouse Club. For 64 years, the charity has been tirelessly supporting the building trade. Now more than ever in these unprecedented times, that support is vital. COVID-19 is just the latest obstacle the industry is facing, piling on top of the already mounting challenges of a still-uncertain Brexit and a potentially devastating skills shortfall. Construction workers take their own lives at 3 times the national average rate, and mental health is a constant, pressing issue.

Against that backdrop, it’s heartbreaking to see how many of construction’s 1.5 million PAYE workers either still don’t realise they’re owed tax refunds or get put off claiming by misconceptions. Around 70% of the refund money owed to construction workers goes unclaimed each year, costing a typical PAYE employee an astonishing £934. Across the country, £428 million in tax refund money is owed to building trade workers each year, but only a little over £128 million is ever paid out. In the last tax year alone, RIFT claimed back over £20 million for our construction-sector clients.

Tax refunds aren’t the only support available for construction workers struggling through the coronavirus crisis, of course. They’re a critical piece of the overall puzzle, but part of a larger collaborative effort that includes financial aid, mental health support and more. The government has thrown out a few extra lifelines in the form of grants, loans and furlough schemes designed to minimise hardship and save jobs. At the same time, The Lighthouse Club has continued to honour its commitment to championing construction workers in times of need. Their Construction Workers Family Crisis Appeal – just one of their many incredible initiatives – has raised over £420,000 so far with an overall target of £1 million. This money is set to ensure that no construction worker, or their family, should be alone in a crisis.

RIFT has always been proud to work alongside organisations like The Lighthouse Club, both through direct donations and by promoting and participating in fundraising efforts. We all need to look after one another right now. That’s why we’re making a donation every time a RIFT customer uses our Refer a Friend scheme to get someone else the tax refund they’re entitled to. With so much hardship hitting the industry, it’s important to remember what we can accomplish when we all work together. We’re grateful to The Lighthouse Club for setting a standard, a goal and an example we should all aspire to.

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