Weekly COVID-19 Supply Chain Bulletin: 15 January 2021

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Weekly COVID-19 Supply Chain Bulletin

15 January 2021

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Welcome to the NAG and SOPO newsletter for 15 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

Personal protective equipment

The Government is extending the provision of free PPE to social care providers until the end of June 2021 to support the vaccination and mass testing programmes. The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has written to council PPE leads and Local Resilience Forums (LRFs) with details on how to continue accessing free PPE and an offer of financial support to councils and LRFs with a financial need. 

Social care providers should continue to access their COVID-19 PPE via their current distribution channels. The scheme will be reviewed in April 2021 to determine PPE provision beyond June 2021.

The sectors that are eligible for PPE via the LA and LRF distribution route are:

  • local authorities (including children and adult social care workers)
  • mental health community care
  • personal assistants (LA, CCG commissioned, and funded through personal health budgets)
  • domestic violence refuges
  • rough sleeping services
  • education and childcare services
  • social and primary care providers on the PPE Portal in clinical need

Vaccines delivery plan

The Government has published the UK COVID-19 vaccines delivery plan for vaccinating tens of millions of people by spring. The plan sets out how the Government will work with the NHS, local councils and the Armed Forces to deliver the largest vaccination programme in British history.

NHS England has published the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for vaccinations to frontline health and social care workers identified as priority cohort two. The SOP has been co-badged with the LGA and the Association of Directors of Adult Services.

Business support

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has published guidance on the Business Support Package for the January lockdown announced by the Chancellor on 5 January. This covers the Local Restrictions Support Grant, the additional Closed Business Lockdown Grant, which together will provide up to £13,500 for businesses mandated to close for the 42 day from 5 January 2021. It also covers the £500 million top up to the discretionary Additional Restrictions Grant, on top of the £1.1 billion already provided, which is intended to support businesses essential to local economies, such as those severely impacted by restrictions and through wider business support activities.

The guidance covers the eligibility criteria for the new grants and other details including information on subsidy control following the end of the EU transition period. 

Councils were due to receive allocations for the new grants today 15 January; finance directors have been sent a spreadsheet by BEIS detailing them. 

Remote learning support 

In my note on Friday, I highlighted the demand pressures facing some schools as children without access to a laptop, desktop or tablet at home have been designated as 'vulnerable children'. We are pleased that the Government has listened to our calls and announced a further 300,000 laptops and tablets will be delivered to schools and local authorities to help disadvantaged children and young people learn at home. Schools that are yet to order devices can still do so.

Free school meals 

The Government has announced that it won’t be providing free school meals over February half-term and that councils should provide them using funding allocated under the Covid Winter Grant Scheme. In our media response we said that this grant money had already been allocated for other support and that it was never intended to replicate or replace free school meals. We urged ministers to continue to provide food vouchers over half-term, for uplifts in benefits to be retained and for separately identified funding for local welfare schemes to be restored.

Non-COVID stories

May elections 

The Constitution and Devolution Minister confirmed that the Government still intends to proceed with elections in May, although this decision will be kept under constant review and based on robust evidence. 

Whilst the uncertainty remains about the public health measures that will be needed, we continue to stress to Government that if a decision to postpone the elections is made, it is key that this is made earlier rather than later. When the elections go ahead, Government will need to take steps to ensure that they can be held safely and that candidates can campaign safely. We continue to make the argument that government will also need to meet any additional costs to councils of holding these elections in these extraordinary circumstances

EU transition

The Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) has published guidance to help businesses comply with changed regulations. The OPSS has produced a range of guidance and advice to help ensure business understand what is expected of them, including on issues such as the use of the UK Conformity Assessed (UKCA) marking. The guidance now includes a ‘What’s changed?’ summary guide to key changes. It also provides a clear indication of what rules and regulations have come into effect now that the Transition Period has come to an end. 

Training and Development

Contract Management e-learning

Following previous information on the free e-learning available to councils through the Government Commercial College we’ve been looking through the hundreds of local government people who have already taken up the offer and have either completed the e-learning or are in progress. We’ve had some great feedback on the e-learning too. If you haven’t registered yet there is still time. Head over to the Government Commercial College to sign up.

CIPS applied learning route to MCIPS

The Chartered Institue of Procurement and Supply (CIPS) is currently taking applications for its online applied learning programme - 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


Contract Management: Supplier Management and Contract Exit - 20 January 2021

The DWP 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 National Social Value 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.