THE building industry has warned of a “two-tier system” in Scotland for dealing with coronavirus amid conflicting advice from the UK and Scottish Governments.

The Scottish Building Federation (SBF) said clarity was urgently needed to end the “confusion” caused by the mixed messages out of Edinburgh and London.

Nicola Sturgeon said on Tuesday her clear advice was that all construction sites should close unless they involved essential infrastructure such as hospitals.

However the UK Government has said work can continue as long as people are 2m (6.5ft) apart.

The UK approach has been criticised because it has led to construction workers continuing to crowd onto public transport such as the London underground.

With around 60 per cent of construction workers self-employed, there are concerns many will try to keep working despite having symptoms of coronavirus.

A growing number of building firms have said they will now stop all non-essential work, however others intend to carry on.

SBF managing director Vaughan Hart said: “Whilst we appreciate the clear guidance issued by the First Minister in recent days, the UK Government appears to be communicating a different message in relation to construction.

“In some instances this has led to a two-tiered system operating in Scotland, whereby some companies are following the UK advice and others are adhering to the advice of the Scottish Government.

“Many construction companies in Scotland are already abiding by the First Minister’s recommendation but the disparity between UK and Scottish Governments’ advice is adding to the confusion, making it more difficult to put some of the support measures proposed for businesses into context.”

Mr Hart also called for targeted financial support for the sector.

He said: “Unlike those who have voluntarily closed in other sectors, there is no specific support available for construction despite us being at the very heart of the economy, along with continued ambiguity for workers as to how the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will operate in practice.

“Similarly, there has been no indication yet of support, for example via business rates, which would be particularly helpful for the construction sector at this time.

“So, whilst we urge clarity on how the government wants the construction industry to act, we also need to understand better how this critical sector will be supported through the economic downturn we are experiencing which will only get worse.”