Weekly COVID-19 Supply Chain Bulletin: 18 December 2020

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Weekly COVID-19 Supply Chain Bulletin

18 December 2020

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Welcome to the NAG and SOPO newsletter for 18 December 2020. Feel free to circulate to your colleagues.

A bumper Christmas edition for you all today and the bulletin will be taking a well-earned break like the rest of you and we’ll be back on Friday 8 January 2021

This has been a gruelling year for all of us but the LGA Procurement Team is proud of the way our procurement officers, contract managers and those involved in the local government supply chain have coped and kept things going in the toughest of predicaments. I hope you manage to get some well-deserved rest over the Christmas and New Year period with your families – the LGA Procurement Team

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COVID stories

COVID-19 vaccinations: programme launch

The following has been published to assist health and care professionals with the initial vaccine distribution:

Testing devices and waste

We are aware that there has been some confusion around the waste classification for testing devices. These were originally classified by the NHS as clinical waste, but the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has now reclassified the devices as general waste. This means that can be collected in the normal way as outlined in the disposal guidance. Please do share this with your testing teams. 

School testing

The Government today announced that secondary schools and colleges in England, as well as special schools and alternative provision, will have access to rapid coronavirus testing from January, which aims to help detect asymptomatic cases and break chains of transmission. Staff will be tested weekly, and staff and students will be tested daily if identified as a close contact of a positive contact. Primary schools will be supported to roll out testing as quickly as possible over the spring term. Guidance on asymptomatic testing in schools and colleges and a handbook for schools and colleges developed by NHS Test and Trace has also been produced.

Children's homes testing

The Government also published guidance to support children’s homes in distributing test kits yesterday. From early December, all children's homes who have completed the online form to request access to the testing portal will be sent an initial supply of 10 test kits. These homes will be able to order an additional batch of test kits every 21 days. An online form was emailed to all providers by Ofsted on behalf of the DfE and DHSC in November.

Designated Premises Guidance

The Department of Health and Social Care has published guidance on designated settings, building on the letters that were sent to directors of adult social services in October and November. The guidance covers: advice on setting up designated settings, and information for local authorities and providers; information on discharge arrangements, and supporting individuals to ensure that their care needs and preferences are accounted for; and additional advice on data collection, funding, visiting, and infection prevention and control (IPC) requirements.

Job Retention Scheme  

The Chancellor has announced that the job retention scheme will be extended for a further month with the Government continuing to contribute 80 per cent towards wages until the end of April 2021. The Treasury has also said the government-guaranteed COVID-19 business loan schemes will also be extended until the end of March.  

Vaccines webinar

Our webinar on Supporting the roll out of COVID-19 Vaccine on Monday 21 December will provide an update from Government about the COVID-19 vaccination roll-out programme - this webinar is open to councillors and officers.

Non-COVID stories

Green Paper on 'Transforming Public Procurement'

The Government has launched a Green Paper on 'Transforming Public Procurement' (PDF) as we leave the EU on 31 December 2020. The Green paper sets out long-planned changes to UK's procurement rules, putting value for money and transparency at the heart of the new approach and includes plans to help unleash wider social benefits from public money spent on procurement in line with existing spirit of the Public Services (Social Value) Act that councils have been following since 2012. The proposals also include measures that councils have been calling to assist them with their procurement;

  • providing more scope to exclude suppliers for poor past performance, and corruption-related matters; and
  • reforming the remedies system, through making the court review process faster and less costly, capping damages, and further investigating the feasibility of tribunals

The LGA’s Procurement team and National Advisory Group (NAG) for Procurement has worked to ensure the issues and concerns of councils were raised and included in the proposed changes. We encourage councils to respond to the consultation by 10 March 2021.

Procurement Policy Note PPN11/20 - Reserving Below Threshold Procurements

The Government has published Procurement Policy Note PPN11/20 that will allow the public sector to exercise additional freedoms on contract spend on goods, services and works contracts with a value below the applicable thresholds not subject to international trade rules. It will allow competitions for public sector contracts under £4.7 million for public works and £122,000 for goods and services to be limited to small businesses, voluntary, community and social enterprises, or to a certain geographical area. These new rules will support small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) by opening up new opportunities for them to win contracts. This policy note is applicable to central government departments. It is only advisory for councils who may apply the new rules if they wish.

Provisional Local Government Finance Settlement 2021/22

Yesterday the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government published the Provisional Local Government Finance Settlement 2021/22. This includes extra money to meet COVID-19 costs, and new funding for adult and children’s social care and for councils with responsibility for services such as homelessness, planning, recycling and refuse collection.

Our On-the-Day Briefing summarises the key announcements for councils and provides an initial LGA view.

As we said in our media response to the announcement, it is good that today’s provisional settlement has the potential to increase council core spending power by up to 4.5 per cent in 2021/22 to support vital local services and help meet cost and demand pressures next year.

However, more than 85 per cent of the potential core funding increase next year is dependent on councils increasing council tax by up to 5 per cent next year.

This falls short of the sustainable, long-term funding that is needed so councils can improve the services our communities and local economies will rely on as we move towards the next phase of the pandemic. We continue to push for a multi-year settlement in future, a solution to the adult social care funding crisis, and for new sources of council finances.

Building safety  

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has announced a £30 million Waking Watch Relief Fund to open in January and pay for the installation of fire alarm systems in high-rise buildings with cladding. This is good news and will help to remove or reducing the need for costly interim safety measures such as ‘waking watch’

Local Government Spend Almanac

It is now more important than ever for local authorities to scrutinise the value they are getting from their third party spend. Whilst this document focuses on spend trends pre COVID-19, it does still provide a rare insight into the areas that are driving spend with external suppliers. The Almanac provides a unique look into the spending behaviours of councils (PDF) over the previous three financial years. It allows us to understand the need for national strategic suppliers, though highlights where we are seeing increases in costs and demand for services. This will help the sector to ask better questions and work with suppliers to support delivery of the outcomes that we all want.

Rough sleeping support

Meanwhile the Government has announced that 43 areas across England will receive support to help people sleeping rough recover from drug and alcohol misuse. This is an important issue, which we have been raising as a concern. A £23 million fund designed for those with drug and alcohol support needs will be followed by a further £52 million in 2021/22. The fund will enable treatment including detox and rehabilitation services, as well as wraparound support, such as access to mental health and substance dependence workers and peer mentors, who are working with people who are vulnerable in treatment services.

Training and development

Government Commercial Function – free contract management training

We have been pleased to see that the number of people registering for the free contract management e-learning is steadily rising.  We currently have 412 council officers undertaking the foundation level training and the numbers are growing.  It’s good to see that heads of service other than procurement officers are also taking up the training too. A new ‘Beyond Foundation’ course is now also available to those who have completed the foundation course.  We are working with Cabinet Office to see if we can continue to allow free access to councils in future financial years. In the meantime if you or your colleagues wish to take up this free e-learning please register here.

CIPS applied learning route to MCIPS

The Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply (CIPS) is currently taking applications for its online applied learning programme commencing in January 2021, successful completion delivers full Member of the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply (MCIPS) status. An alternative to the examination route, participants are assessed via assignment and project work and the entire content is delivered virtually. The two programmes cover the syllabus for CIPS level 4 (Practitioner) and levels 5 and 6 (Advanced Practitioner). Assessment is via assignments and a project at Advanced Practitioner level Due to high demand, if you feel this route to your professional accreditation MCIPS is right for you, then please do not hesitate in emailing anita.hicks@cips.org.


Buying Back Better - How can you embed the Public Sector Equality Duty and use your purchasing power to promote diversity?

6 January 2021

Join representatives from the Equality and Human Rights Commission, Harlow Council, HS2, Manchester City Council and the Scottish Government for an informative webinar about embedding equality considerations in the procurement process. The pandemic has exposed and in some cases widened inequalities. As we plan for the recovery and 'build back better', this event will explore how to promote equality whilst also getting value-for-money.

Social Value Masterclass for Councillors

20 January 2021

Over the past few months, it has become clear that the need for Social Value is greater than ever, as public and private sectors continue to face unprecedented challenges in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The LGA is running an interactive masterclass for councillors that will cover all the areas needed to enable councillors to challenge whether Social Value is being successfully embedded in their council, including:

  • establishing a Social Value policy and statement
  • how to embed Social Value across the council
  • measurement of Social Value
  • Social Value in council procurements
  • benefits realisation, and remedies in contracts

LGA National Construction Conference

2 - 4 February 2021

The 8th National Construction Conference will be held across two days on 2 - 4 February. These two half days will include sessions on the impact of the Covid -19 pandemic on the construction industry and modern slavery in the supply chain, the Government’s Green Paper on Procurement and how construction can tackle the issues being faced by the climate emergency. Further information and booking details will be available on our website shortly.

The Leading Local Government Public Procurement Event

10 March 2021

LGPE Online is an unmissable date in the UK’s procurement calendar and will provide delegates and experts with the chance to engage, listen and learn about the key trends, challenges and opportunities facing local government today in what has been an unprecedented year.