Weekly COVID-19 Supply Chain Bulletin: 12 February 2021

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Weekly COVID-19 Supply Chain Bulletin

12 February 2021

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Welcome to the NAG and SOPO newsletter for 12 February 2021. Feel free to circulate to your colleagues.

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

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COVID stories

Personal Protective Equipment

Department of Health and Social Care has confirmed that councils and Local Resilience Forums (LRFs) can access free PPE for unpaid carers who support people they do not live with. Unpaid carers have played a vital role in supporting vulnerable people during the pandemic. Some councils and LRFs have already been providing unpaid carers with PPE. Councils and LRFs will have the flexibility to apply the eligibility criteria to best suit local needs.

PPE care home supplies  

Care home staff were left without personal protective equipment (PPE) during the first months of the coronavirus pandemic because the Government decided to prioritise the NHS, the Public Accounts Committee has said. Its inquiry - which we gave written evidence to - found that between March and July last year, the Department of Health and Care provided NHS trusts with 1.9 billion items of PPE - the equivalent to 80 per cent of their estimated need. In contrast, it supplied the adult social care sector with 331 million items - accounting for just 10 per cent of its requirements.

Food supply

Councillor James Jamieson, LGA Chairman, gave evidence at the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee inquiry on COVID-19 and food supply. We are calling for a preventative approach to tackle financial insecurity rather than providing emergency adhoc support. We called on the Committee to recommend that the Government keep the uplift in Universal Credit, reinstate local welfare funding and ensure councils have the right data to target support correctly at the local level.  

Providing school meals during COVID-19 - supplier relief update

Department for Education(DfE) have updated their guidance to include information about supplier relief payments and made changes to the period the support covers. They have also added farm foods to the list of supermarkets available and updated the information on how to order vouchers.

Non-COVID stories

Health and Care White Paper

The Government has published its Health and Care White Paper, 'Working together to improve health and social care for all' which sets out legislative proposals for a Health and Care Bill to join up health and care services and embed lessons learned from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The proposals build on the NHS' recommendations for legislative change in the Long Term Plan.

New e-learning platform for councillors

Over the last year, we have delivered more of what we do online, we have recognised that our e-learning platform needs to offer a better experience for councillors. As part of our programme of political leadership support we have developed a range of online learning modules. The new platform provides a place where councillors can enhance their knowledge and expertise - please pass this on to all your councillor portfolio holders who can benefit the whole council with free online learning.


COVID-19 funding - 2021/2022

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has also published a policy paper on COVID-19 funding in 2021/22 following its consultation in December. It confirms allocations of the £670 million of local council tax support and that the extension of the sales, fees, and charges compensation scheme will use 2020/21 budgeted income as a baseline. The policy paper also confirms how losses in council tax will be measured in the local tax income guarantee scheme for 2021/22, with further details on the business rates losses scheme to be made available at a later date.  

Get Help Buying for Schools 

The Department for Education has launched a consultation on its proposed Get Help Buying for Schools service to help schools and academies buy goods and services. The responses will be used to help the Government tailor its support for schools to achieve value for money on their non-staff spend, such as energy bills, catering and cleaning. The consultation is aimed at local authorities, governing bodies of local authority-maintained schools in England, academy trusts, church and other foundation trust bodies and private and public sector organisations supplying goods and services to schools - the consultation closes on 11 March.

Funding for Enhanced Contact Tracing

Pilot funding is now available for councils to explore how the localisation of Enhanced Contact Tracing could reduce the spread of COVID-19. NHS Test and Trace has £100 million (available via councils with public health statutory duties) to put towards pilots, and we understand work is underway to extend this funding into the next financial year. Councils can also bid to have access to national staff for redeployment at the regional level. NHS Test and Trace have produced a useful explanation of how Enhanced Contact Tracing differs from the conventional offer (PDF). For more information contact joanne.todd@dhsc.gov.uk.

Violence Reduction Units funding

The Government has announced £35.5 million of funding for 2021/22 to help Violence Reduction Units across the country tackle serious violence and prevent young people from being drawn into it. In their first year of activity, initiatives funded by the scheme, such as prevention work in schools, prisons and Pupil Referral Units, supported more than 100,000 young people, more than 51,000 of whom were identified as being at high-risk of being involved in criminal and violent activity. The allocations for funding can be found at the end of the press release.

Local leadership and integration fund

The Ministry of Justice has announced the first round of the Local Leadership and Integration Fund is now open for applications. The funding is for local organisations, including councils, to work in partnership to develop new approaches which will improve outcomes for prison leavers in their local area. The deadline for applications is 22 March. Successful pilots will run for a period of 18 months, and the maximum amount of grant funding available for a single bid will be capped at £1 million. To apply or find out more, please register via the Ministry of Justice portal where you will be able to access further information, guidance and the documents required to submit a bid.  

SEND funding extension 

The Government has announced it will re-award current contracts and grants in 2021/22 worth £42 million, for projects to enable schools, colleges, families and local authorities to continue their work to provide practical support to disadvantaged families and children with special educational needs and disabilities.  

High needs funding formula 

The Department for Education (DfE) is seeking views on proposed changes to the high needs national funding formula (NFF). This consultation will consider how it can be improved in order to achieve the highest quality support for children and young people with special educational needs and disability (SEND) or who require alternative provision. The consultation closes on 24 March, please share your views with us also by emailing clive.harris@local.gov.uk.  

Teaching hubs 

The Department for Education has announced it will allocate £65 million in funding for 81 teaching school hubs across the country. The hubs, to be up and running by September, aim to provide high-quality professional development to teachers and heads, as well as helping to 'build up' trainees. Each hub will have its own defined geographical patch and will be expected to be accessible to all schools within that area, serving on average around 250 schools each.  

Nature projects 

The Environment Agency has launched a new £10 million fund for businesses, local authorities, non-governmental organisations and other organisations to bid for up to £100,000 to develop new projects which tackle climate change, create and restore habitats, or improve water quality. The Government hopes that the Natural Environment Investment Readiness Fund will create a pipeline of projects for the private sector to invest in, demonstrating the UK’s leadership in nature finance in the run-up to COP26 in November.

Council funding

The sustainability of council finances continues to be high on the agenda and we gave evidence to the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee inquiry on local authority financial sustainability and section 114 notices.

We highlighted that local authorities were “extremely challenged” prior to the pandemic, noting that councils had lost £15 billion in core Government funding between 2010 and 2020. And that the pandemic has only made matters worse, as councils are now battling a “double whammy” of a decline in revenue streams, ranging from lost business rates to a fall in payments such as parking charges and fines. We also made the point that commercial investments by councils were not solely investing for yield and property but also being made for place shaping or for economic regeneration initiatives such as plans to regenerate high streets. 

Local government spending power will be around two percentage points lower than the 4.6% trailed by the government in the final funding settlement, according to a local government finance consultant.


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.

How do local authorities spend their resources with third parties webcast

26 February 2021

EY and Oxygen Finance are hosting a webinar that explores the key findings from the 2019/2020 Almanac and look at the spending behaviours of councils over the last three financial years, as well as our analysis of categories of spend - our very own Tina Holland will be hosting the event so be sure to sign up

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.