Welcome to the NAG and SOPO newsletter for 17 September 2021. Feel free to circulate to your colleagues.
National Procurement Strategy
Diagnostic Benchmarking Exercise – September 2021
The diagnostic benchmarking exercise went live on Monday this week. Waverley Borough Council were the Sunderland South of general election night, submitting their response within under an hour of receiving it so congratulations to them.
We’ve had very positive early responses but please keep the submissions coming in, we’ve been set an ambitious response target which we’re keen to achieve so your time and involvement in all of this is gratefully appreciated.
The diagnostic is intended to help you benchmark yourselves as well as pave the way for improvement in your procurement functions.
If you have any queries about the diagnostic, need assistance completing it or your council has yet to receive your official invitation email then please contact email@example.com who will be able to help.
Winter COVID-19 plan
The Prime Minister announced the Government’s Winter COVID-19 plan to help mitigate against the potential risks of rising infection and hospitalisation rates over the coming autumn and winter months. The Government is intending to introduce a Plan A and a Plan B; Plan A, where infection rates remain stable, would involve the introduction of booster vaccinations for the over 50s and vaccination of those between the ages of 12 to 15. Plan B, if the NHS came under more pressure, would involve the mandating of face masks in some public places, testing and vaccine certification for certain events and advice for caution for members of the public.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has updated guidance to help councils and businesses identify poor ventilation in work areas as people return to workplaces. It is a legal requirement for employers to ensure an adequate supply of fresh air (ventilation) in enclosed areas of the workplace to tackle the spread of COVID-19.
Rising Energy Markets – Crown Commercial Service Briefing
Wholesale gas and power markets have been extremely volatile since December 2020, hitting new decade high prices in August. There are some significant challenges in the Energy industry currently which are likely to impact on the prices paid over the coming months.
The Crown Commercial Service (CCS) has written to all of its existing customers with some advice on the impact and what they are doing/have done to mitigate the risk and have asked us to share this information and their recommendations more widely - CCS publishes a short weekly summary which you can sign up to.
CCS has already taken action to minimise the impact of wholesale energy price rises in its Energy framework, however, please be aware that these price rises are the most extreme seen in the UK in many years and eventually all energy consumers in the UK - whether with CCS or not - will be affected by these rises.
CCS recommends the following actions to ensure your authority is prepared for increases in your energy price:
- At your next budget review, check how much funding you have allocated to cover energy costs. Given the size of the increases, you may need to allocate additional funding
- Review your estate and ensure that any changes to it (for example, changes in use, new sites being added, old sites being decommissioned) have been notified to the relevant energy supplier so that they can be factored into the demand planning process
- If you have not already, consider whether there are any steps you could take to improve the energy efficiency of your estate, especially during the winter months when power and gas demand is at its peak.
With these in mind, it might be a prudent time to contact our colleagues at Local Partnerships to discuss their Re:Fit programme which is a procurement initiative for public bodies wishing to implement energy efficiency measures and local energy generation projects on their assets, with support to assist you in the development and delivery of the schemes.
Construction Product Availability Statement
The Construction Leadership Council’s Product Availability working group has issued a statement on construction product availability. The basic trends of the last six months remain, with global demand far in excess of supply leading to product shortages, rapid and sustained price inflation, long lead times and uncertainty regarding deliveries. It is also clear that the global shipping industry is far from recovered from the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic, with congested shipping routes, container cancellations and higher costs still evident.
The products most affected are those used in housebuilding and domestic repair maintenance and improvement (RMI), including roofing products, timber, insulation, landscaping products, blocks, sealants/PVA, PIR Insulation, kitchen carcassing and products that use plastic, e.g. drainage, some windows and bagged cement.
Bagged cement is particularly hard hit due to ongoing unprecedented demand but both bagged and bulk cement are on allocation; there are regional variations to this with some areas affected more than others.
Strategic Supplier Relationship Management Programme - Annual Review 2020/21
The LGA has published its second review of the Strategic Supplier Relationship Management Programme. The LGA's National Advisory Group (NAG) for Procurement commissioned the programme in 2017 to improve dialogue with strategic suppliers to local government; local government has not always acted strategically across councils in its view of supplier markets and the companies that operate within them and a key aim of the programme is to rectify that position.
In the two years of operation, the programme has been successful in providing councils with market intelligence and a better understanding of the impact (and sometimes frustrations) that councils have on their strategic suppliers. This is making us think differently about how we need to interact with markets in the future.
The SSRM programme was severely affected during 2020/21 by the COVID-19 pandemic which had a detrimental impact on strategic suppliers to local government and effectively meant that SSRM work was slowed so as not to place additional burdens on both Suppliers and local government staff. Instead, a key part of the programme for 2020/21 has been to work with strategic suppliers to determine how best they can support local government to enable communities to recover from the impact of COVID-19.
Local Digital Fund
The Local Digital Fund is now open for applications from council-led digital projects. In this funding round, councils in England are invited to submit proposals for projects across two themes:
- Modern user-friendly digital platforms enable councils to design and build different types of services.
- Tackling inflexible and expensive software in councils, develop new software solutions or services, and/or help reduce cyber vulnerability.
A project can bid for either £150,000 or up to £350,000, subject to the fund’s criteria and the type of project involved. The deadline for applications is 26 September.
Creating Local Green Jobs report
Following the successful completion of the Leading and Learning Programme, this report seeks to capture the learnings across all of the individual authorities involved, the process and the outputs from the Action Learning Sets and the output from the final symposium.
Local climate action planning webinar
6 October 2021
Are you looking to find out how other councils are creating their climate action plans? Perhaps you’re wondering how local authorities have engaged their local partners and communities in the process? Or, how they are monitoring success? Tune in to this climate action planning webinar to find out more.
2021 National Social Value Conference: Wales - Leading the Movement
16-17 November 2021
The National Social Value Conference: Wales returns this year, from the 16 to 17 November. Last year, we saw a hugely successful two day virtual conference, with over 800 delegates from across public bodies and anchor institutions in Wales.
The LGA Procurement team manages a number of webpages dedicated to your needs – please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you want anything uploaded to our webpages.