Weekly COVID-19 Supply Chain Bulletin: 16 April 2021

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Weekly COVID-19 Supply Chain Bulletin

16 April 2021

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Welcome to the NAG newsletter for 16 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 - previous bulletins can now be found here.

COVID Stories

COVID-19 Local Support Grant

The Department for Work and Pensions has announced that the COVID-19 Winter Grant Scheme is to be renamed the COVID-19 Local Support Grant and will now run until June 20. An extra £40 million will be made available to councils in England to provide support to families and individuals. The scheme was originally due to expire on March 31 but had already been extended to April 16.  

Further funding will of course help councils to continue to provide much-needed support to low-income households at risk of poverty and financial hardship. However, to ensure that we can best address the underlying drivers of disadvantage and break cycles of poverty in the longer term, there is a need for sustainable, preventative funding that can be used to build resilience and prevent crises from recurring. The LGA continues to discuss with government and partners how best to enable councils to provide integrated, preventative support to low-income households, including the potential benefits of providing sustainable local welfare funding of at least £250 million per year.

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.

Schools guidance

The Department for Education (DfE) has confirmed that face coverings should continue to be worn in secondary school and college classrooms as a precautionary measure when students return after the Easter break. It is expected that face coverings will no longer be required to be worn in classrooms, or by students in other communal areas, at step 3 of the roadmap, which will be no earlier than 17 May. The following guidance has also been published:

Non-COVID stories

Youth Employability Coaches   

The Department for Work and Pensions has announced the recruitment of 150 new Youth Employability Coaches which will be specially trained to support young people to get on the first rung of the jobs ladder, particularly those without formal skills or qualifications. They will be able to access intensive support and mentoring training for up to six months, as well as access to training, apprenticeship placements and suitable job opportunities. Coaches will be based in jobcentres and work alongside additional Work Coaches based in specialist Youth Hubs. These Hubs are separate from jobcentres and are co-located and delivered in partnership with external partners such as colleges, charities and local councils.

Business grants      

The Cities and Local Growth Unit – a joint-unit between the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy - has written to billing authorities with a new set of FAQs for the Restart Grant and the Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) top-up, as well as the updated guidance for the ARG.     Councils will have until 30 June to prove that they have “spent” or made a “validated attempt” to spend all of their first two ARG allocations combined to receive an ARG top-up. The guidance includes details on what this means for the purposes of accessing the ARG top-up. For example, a validated attempt may be where bounce-backs of payments have occurred because businesses have provided the wrong account details. It also reiterates the requirement that finance directors will have to sign a letter confirming that these conditions have been met before the additional funding is released.


Local election costs

This year’s elections are the most complex set of local elections councils have ever run and are taking place in the context of a pandemic. Government has provided some specific funding to local authorities delivering elections to cover costs associated with COVID-19. The allocations for this funding were recently made available to councils, however, we are aware that in some cases these allocations are not sufficient to cover the costs associated with COVID-19. If this applies to your council please get in touch to let us know how much your shortfall is by emailing Jessica.Norman@local.gov.uk. The Cabinet Office has agreed to speak directly to areas where the allocations are insufficient to see if any adjustments can be made.

UK Community Renewal Fund

The Government has now published Frequently Asked Questions for Lead Authorities to prepare for the bidding process of the UK Community Renewal Fund. This is in addition to the UK Community Renewal Fund Prospectus and the Technical Note for Lead Authorities. They have also published the slides from the Community Renewal Fund webinar held in March. We understand that further guidance on monitoring and evaluation will be published in the spring.

Bikeability funding

The DfT have announced an £18 million fund for the Bikeability cycling proficiency programme for 2021/22, an increase of 40 per cent. Funds are provided to local highway authorities through the Bikeability Trust and they then determine the schools that will take part, under a variety of delivery models. This year, as there was no time to run a fresh bidding process, the allocations to grant recipients has been based on previous years in which authorities have bid for the number of places they would deliver.

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.


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.

Micro Business Webinar – 28 April 2021

To ensure these businesses have accessible and relevant support that meets their needs as we begin to recover from the pandemic, the LGA has commissioned Shared Intelligence to produce a guide for councils. This sets out the challenges that micro businesses face, the types of support that is available to them and the role of councils in supporting their growth and sustainability. It also highlights case studies of good practice.

This webinar will share the research and discuss the opportunities for councils in providing support to micro businesses in their local economies.