Local Authority C-19 Weekly Updates - 11th February

Local Authority C-19 Weekly Updates - 11th February

In this issue:



Coronavirus (COVID-19)—Public procurement

Procurement Policy Note provides guidance on options and risks in emergency procurement

On 4 February 2021, the Cabinet Office issued Procurement Policy Note 01/21: Procurement in an Emergency (PPN 01/20). Building on guidance published in March 2020 in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, PPN 01/21 reminds contracting authorities of the options available when undertaking procurement exercises in circumstances of extreme urgency and includes further guidance on the commercial risks, particularly when making direct awards. PPN 01/21 applies to all contracting authorities in the public sector with immediate effect.

See: LNB News 04/02/2021 113.


Cabinet Office ‘still too defensive’ over coronavirus (COVID-19) PPE procurement

The House of Commons Public Accounts Committee has published a report on government procurement and supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The report analyses the government’s approach to procurement in this period and its supply of PPE. It provides recommendations to government on how to manage PPE and apply lessons learned for future emergencies.

See: LNB News 10/02/2021 38.


Coronavirus (COVID-19)—Governance

Local authority referendums and the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic (Democracy Newham Ltd v LB Newham)

In September 2020, Democracy Newham Ltd (DNL) submitted a petition calling on Newham Council (the Council) to hold a referendum on changing its model of governance from an elected mayor model to a council leader model. The Council declared the petition invalid on the basis that regulations introduced in 2020 in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic rendered invalid any petition introduced within the period of 16 March 2020 to 5 May 2021. DNL disputed that interpretation, arguing that the regulations only invalidated a petition which required a referendum to take place between those dates. The High Court dismissed the claim, deciding that on a proper construction, the regulations rendered invalid any petition submitted between the dates. The court rejected the idea that the Council had to make a hypothetical decision about when a referendum would be held since that could require the Council decisionmaker to have to reach a political judgment on that issue. Written by Alexander Campbell, barrister, at Field Court Chambers.

See News Analysis: Local authority referendums and the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic (Democracy Newham Ltd v LB Newham).


Contractual construction in light of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic (Westminster City Council v Sports and Leisure Management)

This case involved a claim under CPR 8 for declaratory relief as to the construction of the terms of a contract for the management of leisure facilities within the Westminster City Council area. The provisions in question concerned the payment of a management fee by the service provider, Sports and Leisure Management (SLM), to Westminster City Council and whether, following the onset of coronavirus (COVID-19) and the loss of revenues, the operation of clauses prescribing the consequences of relevant changes in the law meant that the calculation of that management fee could fall to produce a negative number, such that the council was required to pay SLM a fee. In following the line of authority, Mr Justice Kerr held that the management fee was not intended to and could not, on a proper construction, fall to produce a negative figure such that a ‘reverse management fee’ was payable. Written by Kit Smith, associate at Keidan Harrison LLP.

See News Analysis: Contractual construction in light of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic (Westminster City Council v Sports and Leisure Management).


DHSC confirms mandatory ten-day hotel quarantine from 15 February 2021

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has announced that from 15 February 2021 it will be mandatory for anyone who travels to the UK from a country that is on the UK’s travel ban list to quarantine in a government approved ‘Managed Quarantine Facilities’ for a ten-day period. DHSC issued ‘commercial specification to hotels near ports and airports, asking for proposals on how they can support the delivery of Managed Quarantine Facilities ahead of formal contracts being awarded'. The government has engaged with stakeholders from across the hospitality, aviation, maritime and hotel industry to finalise the plans set for implementation on 15 February. DHSC also held various roundtables involving over 60 companies and industry representatives to discuss reducing the transmission of coronavirus (COVID–19).

See: LNB News 05/02/2021 58.


Tougher restrictions for travellers announced amid coronavirus (COVID-19)

The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock, has made a statement to Parliament in which he outlined three new measures that will be brought in on 15 February 2021 as part of the country’s efforts to control coronavirus (COVID-19).

See: LNB News 10/02/2021 67.


Travellers who fail to quarantine face ‘tough’ penalties amid coronavirus (COVID-19)

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has announced that from 15 February 2021, ‘tough’ new enforcement measures will be introduced as part of the government’s new coronavirus (COVID-19) quarantine measures. Individuals arriving into England who have been in a country on the UK’s travel ban list in the previous ten days will be required to purchase a quarantine package which will see passengers transported to a government-approved facility to quarantine and undergo two mandatory COVID-19 tests. Financial penalties (ranging from £1,000 to £10,000) and potential jail-time are examples of the enforcement measures which will be imposed on passengers who travel to England from a ‘red list’ country and fail to take the COVID-19 tests or quarantine in a designated hotel. Furthermore, the DHSC confirmed that passengers who attempt to conceal that they have travelled in a ‘red list’ country on their form could face a £10,000 fine or prosecution and up to ten years in prison. Guidelines for travellers is set to be published on GOV.UK and the quarantine booking portal will be available from 11 February 2021.

See: LNB News 10/02/2021 25.


Cabinet Office publishes May 2021 polls delivery plan

The Cabinet Office has published a policy paper regarding the May 2021 polls delivery plan. The government postponed the scheduled local polls in May 2020 due to the coronavirus (COVID–19) pandemic. Returning Officers, the government and their partners have made ‘extensive preparations to be able to hold these polls on 6 May 2021’, so the polls will run as usual but with additional measures set in place to ensure there is a minimal risk of spreading coronavirus. The Cabinet Office states that an estimated £92m of government grant funding will be supplied to local authorities for the elections, and £31m of that funding will directly address costs associated with ‘making the elections COVID-19 secure'.

See: LNB News 05/02/2021 91.


Coronavirus (COVID-19) hotel quarantine system scrutinised by IfG

The Institute for Government (IfG) has published a report outlining the gaps and challenges it perceives lay in the government’s arrangements for a partial hotel quarantine system, which is being introduced on 15 February 2021 in a bid to reduce the risk of a new variant of the coronavirus (COVID-19) being transmitted from someone coming into the UK. In its paper, the IfG puts forward a series of questions to the government, which it claims must be answered if the quarantine system is to be a success. Reference and analysis of earlier IfG research on outsourcing, the government’s handling of testing and contact tracing, and pandemic co-ordination across the UK and devolved administrations, in addition to the use of hotel quarantine schemes overseas (particularly in Australia), is included in the report. The IfG warned that ‘If the government cannot find good answers to these questions, soon, then its partial quarantine policy is likely to prove a costly failure—little more than expensive window dressing’.

See: LNB News 10/02/2021 97.


WPC urges government to maintain £20 weekly increase in UC amid coronavirus (COVID-19)

Parliament has announced that the Chancellor must maintain for another year the £20 per week increase in Universal Credit (UC) and Working Tax Credit introduced to help families during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The Chair of the Work and Pensions Committee (WPC), Stephen Timms said 'Removing the extra payment in March would represent a failure by Government—failure to recognise the reality of people struggling'. The WPC's report reveals that since March 2020, the number of people claiming UC has increased to around six million. The report warns that removing the payments 'would plunge hundreds of thousands of households into poverty'. In addition, the report also calls on the government to stop any plans for one-off payments to replace the weekly rise due to the risk of fraud and risks to vulnerable people.

See: LNB News 09/02/2021 17.


Report finds ‘innovative’ data use at local level accelerated during coronavirus (COVID-19)

The Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation (CDEI) has published a report analysing the use of data in local government during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, focusing on findings from a forum attended by local authorities. The forum considered barriers to data-driven innovation and new research into public attitudes toward local data usage.

See: LNB News 04/02/2021 51.


Treasury announces more flexibility for Bounce Back Loan repayment

HM Treasury has announced that businesses which took out Bounce Back Loans to mitigate the effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic will have greater flexibility to repay them, through ‘Pay as You Grow’ repayment options. The announcement means that borrowers will have the option to tailor payments according to their individual circumstances.

See: LNB News 08/02/2021 22.


UKRI funds research on coronavirus (COVID-19) and ethnic minority groups

The UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) has funded four new projects to a total of £4.5m which will consider social, cultural, and economic impacts of coronavirus (COVID-19). The aim is to better understand how and why these ethnic minority groups have been disproportionately impacted both by direct and indirect consequences of the coronavirus pandemic. The investment is said to build on previous funding by UKRI and the National Institute for Health Research to understand ethnicity and coronavirus.

See: LNB News 09/02/2021 88.


Coronavirus (COVID-19)—HMCTS publishes updated operational summary for week commencing 8 February

HM Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS) has updated its operational summary on courts and tribunals operations during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The summary for the week commencing (w/c) 8 February 2021 notes that work to safely increase capacity in courts and tribunals continues, an additional jury trial courtroom has been opened, a new Nightingale Court in Taunton will open next week and the Evidence Presentation System will begin rolling out to Crown and magistrates’ courts from 15 February 2021.

See: LNB News 08/02/2021 18.


Welsh Government takes rail franchise into public ownership amid coronavirus (COVID-19)

The Welsh Government has announced it has taken the Wales and Borders rail franchise into public ownership in an attempt to protect services, safeguard jobs, and provide infrastructure improvements amid the challenges of the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Transport for Wales is now operating the Wales and Border rail services under the subsidiary Transport for Wales Rail LTD as of 7 February 2021 in light of the significant reduction in passenger numbers. The aim of the movement is to provide longer term financial stability, which is necessary to secure plans for infrastructure improvements and deliver future improvements for passengers.

See: LNB News 08/02/2021 29.


Welsh businesses urged to register for coronavirus (COVID-19) support package

The Welsh Government has urged firms that have not yet registered with their local authorities since October 2020 to do so in order to benefit from the £650m business support package available to aid businesses suffering as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions. It is estimated that there are ‘thousands of eligible businesses’ which have not yet registered. Eligible businesses with rates value of less than £12,000 will be able to receive £6,000, while firms with rateable value below £150,000 may be entitled to £10,000 for the period from December 2020 to March 2021.

See: LNB News 04/02/2021 105.


Welsh Government pledges extra £8.9m to support freelancers amid coronavirus (COVID-19)

The Welsh Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, Lord Elis-Thomas, has announced that there will be a new round of support funding from the Cultural Recovery Fund for freelancers worth £8.9m. This will mean that the almost 3,500 freelancers already supported by the fund will receive an additional £2,500 to help mitigate the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

See: LNB News 10/02/2021 56.


Coronavirus (COVID-19)—Healthcare

DHSC releases latest statement on coronavirus (COVID-19)

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has published a statement made by the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Secretary, Matt Hancock, on coronavirus (COVID-19) which outlines vaccines, testing and new variants. Hancock said: ‘We’re on track to meet our goal of offering a vaccine to everyone in priority groups 1 to 4 by the 15th of February—one week today—before moving onto the other JCVI priority groups.’ Hancock also stated that even in lockdown, testing is key to find out where the virus is, as this is critical to break the chains of transmission and to locate positive cases so that people can isolate to stop the spread.

See: LNB News 09/02/2021 39.


DHSC considers the current coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine rollout

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has published a statement by the Vaccine Deployment Minister, Nadhim Zahawi, on the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine rollout and has confirmed that those receiving their first vaccine dose has now surpassed 12 million. Zahawi states that the vaccine is the ‘way out of this pandemic’ and that the UK’s world-leading genomics capacity has enabled the identification of different strains when they have appeared in the UK, which allows the deployment of surge testing to try and contain the spread. Zahawi concludes by stating that all steps must be followed, which includes getting a test if coronavirus symptoms appear.

See: LNB News 08/02/2021 20.


DHSC publishes Minister's statement on the progress of the vaccine programme

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has published an oral statement by Minister for coronavirus (COVID-19) Vaccine Deployment, Nadhim Zahawi, on the progress of the vaccine programme. According to Nadhim, the UK is ‘on track’ to meeting the set target of ‘offering a vaccine to the 4 most vulnerable groups by mid-February 2021'. Nadhim has informed that more than 10 million people have received the first vaccine dose which is approximately one in five adults in the UK. In addition, Nadhim provides further statistics of individuals who have been vaccinated.

See: LNB News 04/02/2021 112.


BEIS announces new partnership to respond to coronavirus (COVID-19) variants

The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has announced that the government and CureVac have entered into a new partnership to tackle variants of coronavirus (COVID-19). The new agreement is said to utilise UK expertise on genomics and virus sequencing to enable new varieties of vaccines based on RNA technology to be developed rapidly against new strains of coronavirus. Through this agreement, the UK has ordered 50 million doses of new vaccines, should they be required, to be delivered in late 2021.

See: LNB News 05/02/2021 48.


Coronavirus (COVID-19)—more local authorities enrol into community testing

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has announced that nine in ten local authorities in England have signed up to the coronavirus (COVID-19) community testing programme to offer regular targeted testing to those that show no symptoms. The DHSC has also announced that more than 70% of local authorities now offer rapid testing to those who are unable to work from home and a new postcode checker is expected to launch to assist those who need to leave home for work to gain access to rapid testing quickly.

See: LNB News 10/02/2021 40.


NAO’s report into efficacy of the shielding programme during coronavirus (COVID-19)

The National Audit Office (NAO) has published a report on the government shielding programme that was brought in to protect the clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV) from severe illness and death during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The report examines how effectively the government met the needs of CEV people between March and August 2020, only in relation to support provided through the shielding programme. The report concludes that it is too complex to accurately assess the impact that shielding had on CEV people’s health and whether the ultimate aim of the programme was achieved, although it does acknowledge that lessons learnt from the first lockdown were applied to those shielding during the second lockdown.

See: LNB News 10/02/2021 35.


Study launches in the UK into alternating coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine dose

The Department of Health and Social Care has announced a clinical trial into alternating coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine doses in the UK. This study will be the first in the world to establish the effects of using varied vaccines for the first and second doses, meaning using Oxford/AstraZeneca’s vaccine for the first dose, followed by Pfizer/BioNTech’s vaccine for the second and backed by £7m of government funding. The 13-month study will monitor the impact of the different dosing on patients immune responses. Over 800 patients are expected to take part in this study and initial finding are to be released this summer. The study has been termed as extremely important as it will provide evidence on the safety of the vaccines used in different ways.

See: LNB News 04/02/2021 18.


Welsh Government releases statement on new variants of coronavirus (COVID-19)

The Welsh Government has published a statement on the three new coronavirus (COVID-19) variants of concern in Wales, those first emerging in Kent, Brazil and most recently in South Africa. Following an increase in South African variant cases in Wales as of 3 February 2021, the Welsh Government is arguing for increased restrictions on travel requirements, including extending the current quarantine and testing requirements for people returning to the UK from ‘certain countries’ to all international destinations, including the Republic of Ireland.

See: LNB News 04/02/2021 75.


Welsh Government urges over 70s to book coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine

The Welsh Government has urged those aged 70 or older who have not yet been contacted about receiving a coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination to contact their local health board. The Welsh Government has published instructions on how to do so.

See: LNB News 10/02/2021 98.


MOD announces deployment to Wales for coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine roll-out

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) has announced that an additional 96 service personnel will be deployed to Wales in order to support the Welsh Government with the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccines roll-out. The Minister for COVID vaccine Deployment, Nadhim Zahawi, said: ‘Our military personnel are playing a crucial role in making sure that those who are eligible for the vaccine in every part of the United Kingdom get their jabs as quickly as possible'.

See: LNB News 05/02/2021 66.


Coronavirus (COVID-19)—Education

Government extends disapplication notice for February 2021 amid coronavirus (COVID-19)

The Department for Education has issued a further disapplication notice for February 2021 on the legislation outlining inspection requirements during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The disapplication notice temporarily disapplies Ofsted’s statutory duty to inspect state-funded schools within prescribed intervals, as well as various duties of governing bodies of voluntary or foundation schools and academies designated as having a religious character. The disapplication will temporarily apply between 7 February 2021–6 March 2021. The Secretary of State for Education is permitted under the Coronavirus Act 2020 to temporarily modify and disapply statutory requirements, in this instance sections of the Education Act 1996 and Education Act 2005.

See: LNB News 09/02/2021 24.


OfS distributes hardship funding amid coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

The Office for Students (OfS) has announced the details of £50m in additional funding amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, which is to be used to address student hardship. The OfS considers three key priorities in distributing the fund: that the funding should be aimed at those providers that recruit and support disadvantaged students, that the £40m prioritised for rent-related hardship is distributed in a way giving those students renting student accommodation the maximum opportunity to benefit from it, and that the funding is available as quick as possible for students.

See: LNB News 05/02/2021 63.


DfE plans to build back up with apprenticeships

The Department for Education has published an article in celebration of National Apprenticeship Week 2021, discussing how the UK can build back from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic better with apprenticeships. As part of the plan to build back, with apprenticeships playing a vital role, the government has announced new sector specific traineeship pilots in construction and rail, due to start in the summer of 2021. The traineeship pilots are aimed at giving more young people an opportunity to gain skills and the confidence they need to get a job or progress into an apprenticeship in key sectors of the economy.

See: LNB News 08/02/2021 35.


Coronavirus (COVID-19)—Committee to look at impact of remote learning on children

Parliament has announced that its coronavirus (COVID-19) Committee is to analyse the potential long-term effects on children of digital learning, as necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic. The Committee will hear evidence from several people at 10.00 am on 9 February 2021, including the Chief Executive of the Education Policy Institute, Natalie Perera, and the Chief Executive of the Sutton Trust, James Turner.

See: LNB News 04/02/2021 62.


Coronavirus (COVID-19)—government appoints Education Recovery Commissioner

The Prime Minister’s Office has announced that Sir Kevan Collins has been appointed as the Education Recovery Commissioner by the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, and Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson. With the reopening of schools being a national priority, Collins will ‘oversee a comprehensive programme of catch-up’ for young people to recover the learning lost as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Part of the role will be working with the government to ensure that measures are put in place to support children that missed out on face-to-face education, focusing on factors including curriculum content and the quantity of teaching time.

See: LNB News 04/02/2021 27.


Spring exams to go ahead if assessing professional competency amid coronavirus (COVID-19)

The Department for Education (DfE) has updated its ‘public health guidance to support exams from January 2021’ to make it clear that, due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions, assessments scheduled for February and March 2021 should only go ahead if they are examining professional or occupational competency.

See: LNB News 09/02/2021 78.


OfS advises on how students can report college and university concerns

The Office for Students (OfS) has issued guidance for students on how to raise a concern about a university or college, particularly as amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic ‘it is crucial for students to know what to expect from their university or college about teaching and support’. The OfS has called for universities and colleges to ensure that they are giving out information as soon as possible on how courses are being delivered and changes to teaching and assessment, with clear-cut advice on the implications for individual students. Moreover, the OfS is seeking to boost awareness of its role in the education sector and how it operates to make sure that students receive a good educational experience, stating that it is ‘really important that students across the country know how and when to raise issues with the regulator. Although the OfS is unable to get directly involved in individual complaints, it can intervene if there is evidence of its requirements not being fulfilled.’ The OfS has issued guidance on how to submit a notification, which allows students, staff and others to highlight concerns where universities and colleges may not be meeting regulatory requirements.

See: LNB News 08/02/2021 34.


DfE updates guidance on schools amid coronavirus (COVID-19)

The Department for Education (DfE) has updated its guidance about early years providers, schools and colleges for parents and carers. The update includes sections on remote education during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Ofsted inspections and asymptomatic testing and lateral flow tests.

See: LNB News 04/02/2021 29.


Coronavirus (COVID-19)—further updates to guidance on opening specialist schools

The Department for Education (DfE) has further updated its guidance on opening specialist schools during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The guidance on rapid asymptomatic testing has been updated to include changes to daily contact testing advice, information on the rollout of testing to primary school staff and further guidance on the different approaches to testing.

See: LNB News 04/02/2021 96.


Coronavirus (COVID-19)—DfE updates guidance on accessing technology in lockdown

The Department for Education (DfE) has updated three sets of guidance on accessing technology including laptops, tablets and 4G wireless routers during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

See: LNB News 05/02/2021 34.


Report shows DfE’s failures in managing food voucher scheme amid coronavirus (COVID-19)

The Public Accounts Committee has published a report on the Department for Education’s (DfE) handling of the food voucher scheme for children eligible for free school meals during the first national coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown in spring 2020. The DfE and its contractor, Edenred UK Group Ltd, set up the national scheme in March 2020 and have since recognised that more testing should have been undertaken before the scheme launched, as the system failed to cope with the high demand, leading to delays in getting the vouchers to families. Although Edenred boosted its system’s capacity and the situation improved by April 2020, the report finds that DfE ‘focused on firefighting the problems with the voucher scheme and did not actively manage its contract with Edenred’. Despite the contract’s value increasing from £78m to £425m, the DfE did not renegotiate its terms, secure a better value for the taxpayer, make use of the open book arrangement in the contract until the scheme had finished, or establish Edenred’s profit. The report suggests the DfE should strengthen its commercial skills, evaluate the geographic coverage and travel time for people accessing services, and review how data sharing can be improved to support families more flexibly.

See: LNB News 05/02/2021 18.


Welsh Government to phase back in-person teaching amid coronavirus (COVID-19)

The Welsh Minister for Education, Kirsty Williams, has published an open letter to headteachers announcing that a phased return to face-to-face learning is to begin on 22 February 2021 for three to seven year olds. The Welsh Government has also published a statement by Welsh Chief Medical Officer Frank Atherton in relation to returning to in-person learning for children and young people. Atherton emphasises the importance of keeping teachers, as well as pupils, safe amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This comes as the Technical Advisory Group (TAG) in Wales has published a new report assessing what changes will have to be seen before it is considered safe to start returning to face-to-face learning and how this may be facilitated.

See: LNB News 05/02/2021 57.


Welsh Government publishes statement on coronavirus (COVID-19) testing in education settings

The Welsh Government has published a written statement by the Minister for Health and Social Services, Vaughan Gething, Minister for Education, Kirsty Williams, and Deputy Minister for Health and Social Services, Julie Morgan, on coronavirus (COVID-19) testing in schools, colleges and childcare settings in Wales. The written statement states that, following discussions with Public Health Wales and the Children and Schools Technical Advisory Cell sub group, the Welsh government has paused daily contact testing both in schools and colleges in order to learn more about the new variants, but are offering regular, twice weekly, Lateral Flow Tests to staff in registered childcare settings, schools and further education settings.

See: LNB News 05/02/2021 79.


Wales issues guidance on routine testing for education staff for coronavirus (COVID-19)

The Welsh Government has published guidance for education and childcare staff on routine coronavirus (COVID-19) testing at home. Staff working in education and registered childcare and play settings will have access to Lateral Flow Devices (LFDs), which will enable coronavirus tests to be undertaken at home twice a week. The device is simple to use and provides a result within 30 minutes. While the testing is voluntary, it is strongly encouraged to tackle the risk of asymptomatic transmission further.

See: LNB News 09/02/2021 42.


Education (Coronavirus, Remote Education Information) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2021, SI 2021/122

Provisions are made to impose a requirement on schools in the public sector, as well as independent schools with state-funded pupils, to publish information regarding the provision of remote education on their school website (or, in the absence of a school website, to provide information in accordance with the alternative arrangements set out in these Regulations) so that parents, carers and pupils can better understand what their school’s remote education provision entails in England. These Regulations come into force on 12 February 2021.

See: LNB News 08/02/2021 38.


Coronavirus (COVID-19)—Children's social care

DfE consults on extending coronavirus (COVID-19) provisions to September 2021

The Department for Education (DfE) has launched a consultation on its proposal to extend or amend certain flexibilities in the Adoption and Children (Coronavirus) (Amendment) (No 2) Regulations 2020, SI 2020/909, in relation to medical reports, virtual visits and Ofsted inspections. Current measures put in place to mitigate the effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic lapse on 31 March 2021. The consultation closes at 11:45 pm on 28 February 2021.

See: LNB News 10/02/2021 42.


Coronavirus (COVID-19)—LGA calls for reinstatement of Early Intervention Grant

The Local Government Association (LGA) has warned that new data released by the government shows a rise, by more than a quarter, in serious child-related incidents reported by councils during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The LGA is particularly worried about children's safety due to extra pressures on families during the pandemic, with acts of abuse more likely to go unseen due to the ongoing lockdown. The LGA contends that councils must be able to provide preventative and early-help services and has called on the government to reinstate the £1.7bn funding for the Early Intervention Grant, which was scrapped in 2010.

See: LNB News 05/02/2021 16.


Update on actions for childcare providers amid coronavirus (COVID-19)

The Department for Education (DfE) has published an update regarding actions for early years and childcare providers amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. The DOE update includes additional information regarding educational visits, arriving and leaving the setting, face coverings and pregnant staff. The guidelines on what an individual should do ‘if a child or adult is displaying symptoms of coronavirus' has been updated to include information on charging parents and carers, childminders, and NHS advice on vaccines and fevers.

See: LNB News 05/02/2021 43.


Coronavirus (COVID-19)—Social care

DHSC announces free PPE for unpaid carers amid coronavirus (COVID-19)

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has announced that the government has confirmed that unpaid carers who do not live with the people that they care for can benefit from free PPE during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The Minister of State for Social Care, Helen Whately, has encouraged councils to take part as two-thirds of local authorities already signed up to help with the supply. The DHSC also announces that, following a successful pilot scheme, new distribution routes will be set up to support with delivery to those most in need.

See: LNB News 09/02/2021 79.


DHSC urges public to work in adult social care amid coronavirus (COVID-19)

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has called upon the public to apply for both long-term and short-term opportunities in the adult social care sector amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The impact of the new coronavirus variant has caused the need for additional staff to help the adult social care workforce where absence rates have increased due to self-isolation. The DHSC has also announced that the ‘Care for Others. Make a Difference’ campaign will also launch this week to drive awareness of such opportunities.

See: LNB News 09/02/2021 35.


Further coronavirus (COVID-19) testing for Welsh care home staff

The Welsh Government has announced that further coronavirus (COVID-19) testing for care home staff will take place during the following week to assist with identifying infectious individuals sooner in an effort to manage outbreaks more effectively. This testing programme has received £3m in funding and ‘will involve the twice weekly testing of asymptomatic care home staff using rapid lateral flow test devices’. PCR tests will be used additionally in accordance with the operating system implemented since June 2020. Lateral flow tests are expected to create a rapid process and identify individuals more efficiently than the current process.

See: LNB News 04/02/2021 95.


Coronavirus (COVID-19)—Licensing

Lockdown-breaching restaurant has licence suspended for six weeks amid coronavirus (COVID-19)

The Institute of Licensing has announced that Casa Cruz, the restaurant which breached coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown regulations by hosting a party for singer Rita Ora, has had its premises licence suspended for six weeks. The licensing sub-committee has also added conditions to the licence, preventing the former designated premises supervisor from being employed by or acting on behalf of the premises or premises licence.

See: LNB News 10/02/2021 79.




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