Weekly COVID-19 Supply Chain Bulletin: 13 April 2021

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Weekly COVID-19 Supply Chain Bulletin

13 April 2021

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Welcome to the NAG newsletter for 13 April 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 and view previous bulletins.

COVID stories

Personal Protective Equipment   

The Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) has extended the provision of free personal protective equipment (PPE) to health and social care providers from the end of June 2021 until the end of March 2022. The expectation of clinical experts is that PPE usage will remain high throughout the next financial year and will help protect the health and wellbeing of health and social care workers, as well as their patients and clients. 

Business grants   

Businesses in England in the non-essential retail sector will be eligible for one-off Restart Grants of up to £6,000, while businesses in the hospitality, accommodation, leisure, personal care and gym sectors will be eligible for one-off grants of up to £18,000. Councils will have received a letter from Business Minister thanking council efforts to support businesses through the pandemic but stressing urgency in getting these government grants to small businesses. It also reiterates the change in guidance from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) for councils to spend their first two Additional Restrictions Grant allocations by Wednesday 30 June to receive further funding. 

Working safely in care homes and domiciliary care

Public Health England has updated the guidance for those working in care homes and for those working in domiciliary care. The updates for both settings include the introduction of recommendations to change PPE after each episode of personal care, and new recommendations around use of eye protection when delivering personal care within two metres.  

Free school travel: funding allocations 

DfE and MHCLG have updated the guidance on free school travel to include additional school and college transport capacity funding allocations. The update shows the funding local transport authorities will receive to support additional dedicated school and college transport. This is due to current social distancing requirements on public transport during the COVID-19 outbreak. 

Claiming for additional free school meal costs

Schools can claim for additional costs incurred when providing locally sourced vouchers to pupils eligible for benefits-related free school meals during the period in which schools were closed to most pupils i.e. up to 5 March. Schools can also claim for lunch parcels provided during this period and up until the start of the Easter holidays. The claims window for these costs is now open and will close on 4 May. Please note that local authorities can also claim on their schools' behalf.  

Compensation scheme for lost sales, fees and charges

We understand that the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) is planning to make the second (of three) payments under the compensation scheme for lost sales, fees and charges. This is based on returns that were submitted by councils in December and relates to income lost from August to November 2020. MHCLG have already notified each council of the amount they will receive under the scheme. The Ministry is also expected to request a final return in April / May, for councils to record losses for the rest of 2020/21.

Non-COVID stories

Employing veterans

A National Insurance contributions holiday is now available for organisations that employ armed forces veterans. The policy allows employers to claim National Insurance contributions relief for veterans they have hired during their first year of civilian employment after leaving the armed forces. The move is part of the government's commitment to help further incentivise employers to take advantage of the wide range of skills and experience that ex-military personnel offer. Employers - including councils - will be able to claim National Insurance contributions relief on the earnings of qualifying veterans and guidance on how employers can claim back national insurance is available.

Social care recruitment 

Councils can take advantage of the increase in interested people searching for social care jobs by posting your jobs for free on DWP's 'Find A Job' webpage. Posting your jobs is simple and quick to do. Just remember to use the term 'social care' in your job descriptions to make sure they'll be seen on the campaign website. Download the guide for help uploading your jobs, or visit everydayisdifferent.com/recruit for expert advice, handy tips and simple templates to use in your local recruitment activity. 


Refit framework helps organisations secure decarbonising funding

Phase two of the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme is now open for applications. In phase one, 317 organisations were awarded funding for 429 energy efficiency and heat decarbonisation projects, valued at £932 million. Funding was secured for 23 using the Re:fit 4 framework, an OJEU compliant framework of 16 providers with guaranteed carbon and energy savings.

To find out more and help prepare applications contact Local Partnerships: refit@localpartnerships.gov.uk.

Infection Control and Testing Fund

The Care Minister has written to social care providers about the consolidation and extension of the Infection Control Fund and the Rapid Testing Fund, to June 2021. The fund is intended to help meet the costs associated with rapid testing for staff and visitors to enable close contact visiting where possible, while reducing the rate of transmission between and within care settings and increase staff vaccination uptake. The letter also refers providers to the Communications Toolkit to Support Vaccine Uptake in Adult Social Care, to encourage care staff to get vaccinated. Full details of the fund, including allocations, measures and reporting requirements can also be found in the local authority circular and accompanying guidance.

Parental conflict

Councils can apply to a new £3.87 million Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) fund to train frontline staff who regularly come into contact with families facing conflict. The DWP's Reducing Parental Conflict programme is working with local family services including in health and social care, the courts and emergency services such as the police, to help them spot parental conflict, provide initial support and refer parents to further interventions such as therapy for a constructive resolution.

Recovery Loan Scheme

The Government has launched a new Recovery Loan Scheme to provide additional finance to businesses that need it. The scheme, which was announced at budget, runs until 31 December 2021, will be administered by the British Business Bank, with loans available through a network of accredited commercial lenders. The Government will provide an 80 per cent guarantee for all loans and have capped interest rates. The Recovery Loan Scheme can be used as an additional loan on top of support received from the emergency schemes - such as the Bounce Back Loan Scheme and Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme - put into place last year.

Homes England strategic partnerships grant funding 

Homes England (HE) has opened a competitive bidding round for its latest intake of strategic partnerships for 2021-26 affordable homes grant funding by 18 May 2021. Strategic partnerships are one of two routes to access grant funding from HE through the government’s Affordable Homes Programme (2021-2026). Rather than access funding on a scheme-by-scheme basis, strategic partners enter into a multi-year grant agreement with HE to deliver affordable housing. Guidance is available for those applying for affordable homes funding through a strategic partnership and on the application process for affordable housing funding for strategic partners.

Council funding for Hong Kong British Nationals 

The Secretary of State for the Ministry for Communities, Housing and Local Government has written to the Leaders and Chief Executives to advise them of the funding package to councils to support new arrivals from Hong Kong, with a focus on language support and preventing destitution. A £43.1 million overall offer of support across the UK also includes funding to existing local government based Strategic Migration Partnerships and the community and voluntary sector for new 'Welcome Hubs'.

Zero emission bus scheme launched

The Department for Transport (DfT) has launched the first round of funding for Zero Emission Bus Regional Areas (ZEBRAs). £120 million is available for areas to purchase up to 500 zero emission buses. Applications from areas with advanced plans are invited by 21 May, with a second deadline of 25 June for areas needing more time to develop plans with operators and manufacturers.


Sector led improvement: creating local green jobs blog

Building on the LGA green jobs report (2020), we have brought together local government economic and climate change officers and Members as they progress towards a green economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. You can read our first blog post on the sessions.

The Net Zero Innovation Programme podcasts: Together towards net zero

In a collaboration with the University College London (UCL), the Net Zero Innovation Network brings together local authorities, universities and other stakeholders to tackle local climate challenges. As part of the Network's programme of activities, we are delighted to bring you the 'Together towards net zero' podcast series. Listen to the second episode 'Sandpits'.

Please find projects which may interest you on Universities and councils: partnership working towards net zero | Local Government Association under 'Net Zero Innovation Programme Partnerships'


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.