Weekly COVID-19 Supply Chain Bulletin: 19 February 2021

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Weekly COVID-19 Supply Chain Bulletin

19 February 2021

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Welcome to the NAG and SOPO newsletter for 19 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.

Manage or create a subscription - read our previous bulletins.

COVID stories

Vaccinating social care workers

The Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) have written to councils to confirm some additional actions to ensure all eligible frontline social care workers can access an appointment for a first COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible. This includes the online National Booking Service for vaccinations being made available for employers and eligible staff to book an appointment for the next two weeks. A separate letter this week (PDF) has asked councils to work with their CCG to ensure that this ability for social care workers to self-refer themselves for a COVID-19 vaccine has been shared with all Care Quality Commission (CQC) registered domiciliary care providers and care homes, as well as those employed in non-CQC registered settings.   

Some providers of registered and unregistered social care services have reported difficulties in identifying their local authority vaccination lead. To help, DHSC has created a consolidated list of all public points of contact that will be shared with providers. It has also produced a toolkit listing all of the resources available to help employers address any concerns that staff may have about having the vaccine.   

Social care staff may be able to claim money back from HM Government

People who work in social care roles and have paid the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) may be able to claim their money back from HM Government. Applicants must be working for at least 16 hours per week during that period, but this can be in more than one eligible job. Eligible applicants can now apply online and find out more about the scheme.

Campaign launch: short-term paid work in adult social care

DHSC is calling on people to apply for both short-term and long-term opportunities in the adult social care sector as they look to boost the workforce during the COVID-19 pandemic. The impact of the new variant has meant that absence rates have more than doubled in recent months due to self-isolation. Those looking for a job or volunteering opportunity, or who are currently on furlough can now register their interest in opportunities including personal care, providing wellbeing support, collecting and delivering supplies or assisting with cooking and cleaning.

Local government COVID guidance

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) has updated its COVID guidance for local councils. The page brings together guidance, publications and announcements relevant to councils including on business and charity support, public health, schools and education, testing and vaccines.

Shielding expansion

The clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV) group will be expanded by an additional 1.7 million people following Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) led work recognising the need to identify a wider combination of risk factors (including ethnicity, deprivation etc) that make people more vulnerable to COVID-19 alongside specific clinical conditions. New additions to the CEV group will be added to the top of group 6 for priority vaccination during the current roll out. They will also become eligible for statutory sick pay and advised to work from home, alongside the same offer of support to the existing CEV population. The Government also advised that the period in which the full CEV cohort has been advised to shield has been extended from the planned review point of 21 February to 31 March.

Non-COVID stories

The local authority almanac

Local government collectively spends more than £63bn with suppliers to deliver vital services to residents. EY and Oxygen Finance, published the first local authority spend almanac (PDF) that collates published spend (invoices paid) of over £500 during 2019/20. The almanac provides a useful overview of councils' key spend areas, by region, by council type and by category.

Together with EY and Oxygen Finance we are delivering a webinar on this next week - details can be found below see below in the events section.

Unregulated accommodation ban  

A ban on placing vulnerable children under the age of 16 in unregulated accommodation will come into force in September, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has announced. The Government will also hand Ofsted new powers to take enforcement action against illegal unregistered providers and bring forward plans to support local authorities to create more places in children’s homes alongside additional investment.  

Exit Cap guidance update

HM Treasury published a Treasury Direction disapplying the legislation implementing the £95,000 cap on public sector exit payments with immediate effect.  The situation for exits that took place while the cap was in place remains unclear and more correspondence from MHCLG is expected. We have updated guidance on exits and will continue to do so as the situation develops in the coming weeks.


Road maintenance funding 

The Department for Transport (DfT) has this week confirmed council allocation of £500 million for highways maintenance in 2021/22. This is the second of five equal instalments from the £2.5 billion Potholes Fund, providing £500 million a year between 2020/21 and 2024/25, announced by the Chancellor in the 2020 Budget. While this extra funding is positive, it was disappointing to see in the same announcement that overall capital funding for local road maintenance this year will be £1.39 billion - down from £1.78 billion in 2020/21.

We are urging the Government to restore this almost £400 million in highways maintenance funding back to councils in the next Spending Review so they can continue to keep roads well maintained and address the almost £11 billion backlog in local road repairs. 

Culture Recovery Fund 

The Culture Secretary has announced the final awards to be allocated from the first round of the Government's £1.57 billion Cultural Recovery Fund. Projects to revive heritage sites will receive £13.5 million in kickstart grants with 33 independent cinemas allocated grant funding.

EU Settlement Scheme 

The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) has received grant funding from the Home Office to provide information to those leading and working in the care sector on how to support applications to remain in the UK via the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS).  Councils have raised concerns about vulnerable people in their communities completing the process by the June deadline. ADASS is hosting a series of webinars from next week looking at how to raise awareness of the scheme.  

Electric vehicles

Department for Transport (DfT) has announced that the Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme (EVHS), which provides up to £350 towards a charge point, will continue next year and be expanded to target people in rented and leasehold accommodation. At the same time, the Workplace Charging Scheme (WCS) will be opened up to small to medium enterprises (SMEs) and the charity sector. DfT has also launched a consultation on improving the charging experience which aims to simplify payments and increase reliability.


The green economic recovery

22 February 2021

We are organising a webinar on the green economic recovery as part of our economic growth sector-led improvement offer. 

The webinar will feature a panel of guest speakers from councils and external organisations with a background in economic growth. The topics covered will include, doughnut economies, inclusive economic growth and the opportunities presented by green and sustainable initiatives.  

Applying behavioural change techniques to the COVID-19 and climate emergency responses

23 February 2021

This webinar will look at how we can use behavioural change techniques in council services to work with communities and change their behaviour.  

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.