Weekly COVID-19 Supply Chain Bulletin: 8 January 2021

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Weekly COVID-19 Supply Chain Bulletin

8 January 2021

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Welcome to the NAG and SOPO newsletter for 8 January 2021. Feel free to circulate to your colleagues.

This newsletter is now delivered through our corporate service that handles all our various e-bulletins.

Manage or create a subscription - read our previous bulletins.

COVID stories

Lockdown III - business support 

The Government has announced one off top-up grants to closed businesses as follows:

  • £4,000 for businesses with a rateable value of £15,000 or under
  • £6,000 for businesses with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000
  • £9,000 for businesses with a rateable value of over £51,000.

A further £594 million is also being made available for local authorities and the devolved administrations to support other businesses not eligible for the grants that might be affected by the restrictions. 

Colleagues are in touch with officials from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to urge them to update billing authorities as soon as possible, including how the new grants will be delivered and how it affects the existing Local Restrictions Support Grant and Additional Restrictions Grant framework.

Previously, BEIS had announced that in areas under Tier 4 restrictions at any time from 19 December 2020, the 'Local Restrictions Support Grants (Closed) Addendum: Tier 4' grant would come into effect. BEIS issued guidance on this. This is also available on the main guidance page for the Local Restriction Support and Additional Restrictions Grants.


The Department for Education's (DfE) guidance on critical workers and vulnerable children who can access schools or educational settings has extended the definition of vulnerable children to include "those who may have difficulty engaging with remote education at home (for example due to a lack of devices or quiet space to study)". We have called on the Government to work with councils and schools to provide laptops and tablets to those pupils that need them to allow for online learning in the coming weeks and months.

Get laptops and tablets for children who cannot attend school due to coronavirus (COVID-19)

The Department for Education (DfE) is providing laptops and tablets to schools to help children and families access remote education during coronavirus (COVID-19). They're also helping disadvantaged children who need an internet connection to get internet access.

Parents, carers and pupils cannot apply for digital devices or internet access through this scheme themselves. They should contact their school to discuss requirements for accessing remote education.

Remote learning support

government scheme that offers temporary data increases for mobile phone users on certain networks is available so that children and young people can access remote education. Schools, trusts and local authorities can request mobile data increases for children who do not have fixed broadband at home and/or cannot afford additional data for their devices. This scheme was set up for when students experience any disruption to their face-to-face education, and with schools remaining closed at this moment in time, this help could be incredibly valuable. 

With the move to remote provision for the majority of pupils, the DfE-backed Oak National Academy remains available to support schools.

National Tutoring Programme (NTP) Tuition Partners are also offering online tutoring for disadvantaged pupils at home, as well as continuing to offer support to vulnerable pupils in schools. It is also possible for primary, secondary, special schools and alternative provision to book blocks of tutoring to start later in the year.   

Youth services

In light of the national lockdown, youth service settings can remain open if they are safe. The National Youth Agency is updating their youth services guidance to provide greater clarity. This has been developed in consultation with Public Health England and the Health and Safety Executive. This allows; online and virtual youth sector delivery, detached and outreach (outdoor support), 1-2-1 support for young people (indoors), delivery of support groups for vulnerable young people and drop-in 1-2-1 triage services.

Non-COVID stories

Future relationship between the UK and the EU

The trade deal came into effect at 11pm on 31 December - the headline issues of the deal include:

  • No tariffs or quotas on EU/UK trade in goods.
  • A new agreement on fisheries, with the UK's departure from the Common Fisheries Policy.
  • State-aid and procurement to become UK domestic policies.
  • An agreement to join some future EU funding programmes (for eg the Horizon research programme) and to leave others (eg the Erasmus education scheme).

Impact on councils

The biggest issue that we have been raising with government is that councils face many challenges in the coming days and weeks. The end of the EU transition period and the start of the new trade arrangements will take place amongst multiple pressures on councils over the winter months.

Most of the immediate council responsibilities from EU transition will fall on our regulatory services as a result of some new checks on goods and the support needed to business (for example, new export certificates). These members of staff are at the frontline of our work in the pandemic. They are also having to deliver important statutory services such as food hygiene and trading standards. There are already skills shortages in these professions and councils are reporting severe difficulties in recruiting new staff.

Future High Streets Fund

Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) announced up to £830 million from the Future High Streets Fund with the aim of helping 72 areas across England to transform their high streets. Fifteen areas across England have been awarded a confirmed £255 million from the Future High Streets Fund. A further 57 areas have received a provisional funding offer totalling up to £576 million and MHCLG has said they will be working with those areas to finalise their proposals.

EU transition

The EU Exit Taskforce - bringing together the LGA and our sister organisations from Wales, Scotland and North Ireland - raised a wide range of issues with Government, including the impact on regulatory services and port towns and the design of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF). We understand that MHCLG will be writing to all councils about the key priorities for regulatory services going forward.

BEIS has published toolkits and guidance to support businesses prepare for our new trading relationship with the EU. Details of these are available on our EU Transition pages.  

On 31 December, the Government published guidance for public authorities explaining the subsidies chapter of the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement, World Trade Organisation rules on subsidies, and other international commitments. Now that the UK has left the EU, the Government's guidance on Public Procurement now comes into effect.

The Social Value Awards 2021

Submissions close on 21 January for this year's National Social Value Awards - the NSVAs aim to highlight best practice from around the UK and showcase how sectors and businesses embed social value within the way they do business.


Innovation procurement to boost regions in post COVID recovery

12 January 2021

Academic and regional leaders discuss the role of innovation procurement in regional growth, their current initiatives, and the potential for these approaches to strengthen economic recovery in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic

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

Contract management: supplier management and contract exit

20 January 2021

The Department for Work and Pensions Employment Category team will discuss their approach to integrating commercial, delivery and finance teams across contracts and suppliers. They will cover complex supply chains and contract exit to demonstrate the benefits of collaboration.

LGA national construction virtual conference

2 & 4 February 2021

This year's construction procurement virtual conference will look back on an unprecedented year for both the construction industry and local government, as well as focusing on future challenges. The event is spread across two webinars, the first of which will include sessions on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the construction industry and modern slavery in the supply chain.

The second webinar will look at the Government's Green Paper on procurement and what this will mean for construction procurement professionals after the UK's exit from the European Union

The webinars will provide an opportunity to hear from experts from academia, central and local government as well as the procurement law profession, to participate in conversations that tackle the leading issues and to help disseminate learning across the sector.

Counter fraud: embedding counter fraud into the commercial lifecycle

3 February 2021

Cabinet Office's Counter Fraud and Commercial Functions will share the work they have been doing to embed counter fraud principles into the commercial lifecycle and how this will manifest in the upcoming Commercial Functional Standard revision.

Strategic partnering: how MOD partner with suppliers to drive value

10 February 2021

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) established a partnering programme for strategic suppliers in 2018 to ensure delivery of defence priorities. This masterclass will focus on how this programme delivers against their priorities and how this process can be applied to all partnering relationships.

Transforming procurement: establishing BlueLight Commercial 

17 February 2021

Home Office and the CEO of BlueLight Commercial will be delivering a masterclass to detail how they set up the BlueLight Commercial organisation to aggregate spending across the police force and the cost savings this has generated.

National social value conference 2021 - recover, rebuild, renew

23 & 24 February 2021

The 4th annual national social value conference 2021 will be held virtually on the 23-24 February 2021. The conference is the leading event of its kind bringing together experts and practitioners from the public and private sectors to share good practice and innovative ideas about how to embed social value into commissioning, procurement and delivery.

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 twelve months.