Weekly COVID-19 Supply Chain Bulletin: 19 March 2021

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Weekly COVID-19 Supply Chain Bulletin

19 March 2021

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Welcome to the NAG and SOPO newsletter for 19 March 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 - previous bulletins can now be found here.

COVID stories

Elections May 2021 - PPE and equipment 

 The Department of Health & Social Care has written to local authorities and Local Resilience Forum PPE leads to confirm that hand sanitiser will be provided to all local authorities at no cost in the usual way through the ppe-request@dhsc.gov.uk address. DHSC will also be offering free Type II masks for use as non-clinical grade face coverings in election settings. The masks may be used for anyone entering an election setting but must not be used in any other settings. Voters are expected to bring their own face coverings in the first instance. 

Guidance for the full range of electoral processes can be found on the Electoral Commissions Guidance to support May 2021 elections webpage

Business support

Following the Budget earlier this month, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has now published guidance for the new Restart Grant, which applies from 1 April, and updated guidance for the Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG).  The extra £425 million ARG will be distributed to local authorities on the basis of businesses.  Local authorities have until 30 June to demonstrate how they have spent or "have made a validated attempt to spend" 100 per cent of their first two ARG allocations to access the additional funding.  We understand the concerns about this condition when the ARG was originally announced in November when councils were told they had until March 2022 to spend the grant. Please let us have your views at lgfinance@local.gov.uk 

Updated Contain Framework for managing local COVID-19 outbreaks   

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has issued updated guidance for local authorities on the management of localised COVID-19 outbreaks. This includes updates for Public Health teams and advice for councils as the government starts to gradually ease restrictions of part of its roadmap out of lockdown.

COVID-19 case studies hub 

The LGA's COVID-19 good practice hub showcases examples of some of the remarkable ways councils are addressing the challenges of the pandemic. Recent case studies include Ealing Council on introducing surge testing after a case of the South African variant was identified, and Portsmouth City Council on encouraging homeless people to get vaccinated. Other case studies look at councils' work on contact tracing and the use of behavioural change techniques to encourage vaccine take-up and adherence to coronavirus regulations.  

Non-COVID stories

Call for Information: Energy Benchmarking

Colleagues in Leeds are looking to benchmark energy prices and are looking for ideas as to how other councils benchmark prices or have gone about the process.  Can you help - please contact Andrew.lingham@leeds.gov.uk if you can. 

Industrial Decarbonisation Strategy 

The Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy launched the Government's Industrial Decarbonisation Strategy this week, which sets out a blueprint to deliver the ‘world's first low carbon industrial sector'. Building on the Prime Minister’s 10 Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution published last year, the Strategy pledges to create and support 80,000 UK jobs over the next 30 years, whilst cutting emissions by two-thirds in 15 years. Key commitments within the Strategy include using carbon pricing as a tool for getting industry to take account of their emissions in business and investment decisions, supporting the skills transition so that the current and future workforce benefit from the creation of new green jobs, and to explore the role of coordinated action on public procurement to create demand for green industrial products. The announcement also included further detail about the 429 projects receiving £932 million investment through the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme (PSDS) in England.

EU transition business support

Smaller businesses can now apply for grants of up to £2,000 from the £20 million SME Brexit Support Fund, to help them adapt to new customs and tax rules when trading with the EU. The Fund aims to help businesses access practical support to ensure they can continue trading effectively with the EU. Businesses are eligible for grants if they import or export goods between Great Britain and the EU or move goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Businesses that trade solely with the EU and are new to importing and exporting processes are particularly encouraged to apply. 

National Bus Strategy

The Government has unveiled its National Bus Strategy which aims to introduce simpler fares, introduce more services, and provide greater integration across transport modes. Alongside the strategy will be £3 billion of public investment and it sets out the Government's ambition to make every local transport authority and bus operator in England to be in a statutory Enhanced Partnership or a franchising arrangement, using existing powers in the Bus Services Act 2017. £25 million will be made available straight away to support these. 

Scope 3 emissions reporting with respect to social care

Local Partnerships developed a greenhouse gas accounting tool in collaboration with the LGA in 2020. This is free for all councils to download and can be found at Greenhouse Gas Accounting Tool - Local Partnerships. They are now carrying out a further piece of work to develop guidance to councils on Scope 3 emissions reporting with respect to social care. They are seeking input from social care practitioners/commissioners from councils to gather data to help inform the guidance as to the key sources and barriers to data collection. We would be grateful if you could fill out the survey.

Improving broadband for hard to reach areas

The Department of Culture, Media and Sport launched a consultation about improving broadband connectivity for hard to reach premises. Councils across the country have been working hard to help improve broadband infrastructure, particularly at a time when good broadband connectivity has never been more important to local communities. At the same time, the government has also published the outcomes from its Barrier Busting Taskforce, which calls for changes in planning regulation to make it easier to install 5G infrastructure.


Community Ownership Fund 

The Chancellor announced the creation of a new £150 million Community Ownership Fund to help ensure that communities across the UK can retain important parts of the local social fabric - like pubs, sports clubs, theatres and post offices – which otherwise might be lost. The fund will be available to community groups, who will be able to bid for up to £250,000 matched funding to buy local assets to run as community-owned businesses. Although the fund will not be available to local authorities, community-owned businesses form an important part of the local infrastructure and are of interest to councils and their communities. 

The aim of this fund is to strengthen local infrastructure through community-ownership. MHCLG would like to understand the local authority perspective on how this can be achieved - contact Jessica.norman@local.gov.uk if you have views you want to share.

New funding for hospital discharge, infection control and rapid testing

The Government has announced significant new funding to support health and social care through the ongoing pandemic. £594 million has been made available for hospital discharge; £202.5 million has been allocated for a new round of Infection Control Funding in Adult Social Care; and £138.7 million will support rapid testing in adult social care from existing Test and Trace funding. Details, including grant conditions, are expected in the coming days.


Cabinet Office Masterclasses

Following on from the success of Masterclass Programme in January and February, the Commercial Continuous Improvement Team at the Cabinet Office are pleased to announce a full programme of Masterclasses every Wednesday throughout March and April. 

Experts from across the Government Commercial Function will discuss and take questions on a wide range of innovative and leading commercial practices during virtual sessions to promote continuous improvement aligned to the Commercial Functional Standards programme.

EU-Exit Contingency Planning across MOJ's Food and Retail Category
24 March 2021

The Ministry of Justice's Food and Retail category team will lead this Masterclass on both the overall MoJ Commercial approach to contingency planning for EU Exit and the specific contingency planning they conducted to prevent disruption to their supply chain following the U.K.'s exit from the European Union.

Debt Recovery Masterclass
7 April 2021

Crown Commercial Service will be presenting a masterclass on debt recovery.  They will include advice on how the private sector can be leveraged to maximise recoveries whilst identifying and protecting the vulnerable, how data should be used to refine collection strategies, examples of what social value can be delivered in this space and how accounts payable reviews can enable identification of internal errors and recover these. 

Driving Value Through Competitive Negotiation
14 April 2021

In this Masterclass, the Home Office Biometrics Team will deliver a session on how to drive value through Competitive Negotiation. The session will cover how they successfully negotiated the retendering of two legacy services, and moved away from the two incumbents to one, new supplier, and how this fits into their wider digital transformation programme.


Local economic recovery planning 
25 March 2021

 In partnership with Social Finance, this webinar will discuss our forthcoming economic recovery playbook which provides practical steps that councils can take in their local economic recovery planning. It shares good practice from leading councils who are making progress in this area to support those with less resources. 

Introduction to the NEC4 Engineering and Construction Contract for Public Sector Practitioners 20 April 2021

The NEC4 suite of standard construction contracts are becoming the contract of choice for many public sector procurements of construction and maintenance works (recommended by UK Government Construction Strategy as well as by the Construction Clients' Board The Construction Clients' Board). Attend this webinar to find out how it can transform and stimulate your projects to deliver contracts which are on time, offer savings and improve quality.

All You Need to Know About Framework Agreements, Dynamic Purchasing Systems and More
28 April 2021

Whilst contracting authorities have been using framework agreements for several years, they have been an area of uncertainty for practitioners. This focused webinar  has been developed to provide clarity around how to set up and manage your own framework agreements, as well as compliantly use frameworks established by other bodies.