What are the new Procurement Policy Notes (PPN)?
The Government has produced and published three new Procurement Policy Notes as a direct result of the ever changing Covid-19 environment.
PPN 01/20: Responding to COVID-19
The purpose of PPN 01/20 is to ensure that contracting authorities are able to procure goods, services and works with extreme urgency, to allow them to respond to the pandemic efficiently.
This PPN provides guidance for the following circumstances:
- Direct award due to extreme urgency (regulations 32(2)(c)) (click here to read our article regarding regulation 32)
- Direct award due to an absence of competition or protection of exclusive rights
- Call off from an existing framework agreement or dynamic purchasing system
- Call for competition using a standard procedure with accelerated timescales
- Extending or modifying a contract during its term
PPN 02/20: Supplier relief due to COVID-19
PPN 02/20 focuses predominantly on the supplier to assist in keeping supply chains open and ensuring that suppliers are kept financially sound during these unpredictable times.
This PPN provides guidance for the following circumstances:
- Urgent reviews of contract portfolios and to update suppliers if they believe they are at risk
- Put in place appropriate payment measure to support supplier cash flow
- Where contract payments are based on ‘payment by results’ make payments based on previous invoices
- Ask suppliers to act on a ‘open book’ basis and make cost data available to the contracting authority during this period
- Ensure invoices submitted by suppliers are paid immediately on receipt
PPN 03/20: Use of Procurement Cards
The third guidance note PPN 03/20 relates to the use of procurement cards to increase efficiency and accelerate payment to suppliers.
This PPN provides the following advice and urges organisations to arrange with their procurement card provider to:
- Increase a single transaction limit to £20,000 for key card holders
- Raise monthly limits on spending with procurement cards to £100,000 for key card holders
- Spend on procurement cards each month in excess of £100,000 should be permissible to meet business needs
Although the above advice has been provided, should these limits not be necessary, organisations should seek an appropriate transaction limit or monthly limit.
The PPN also advises that by 30 April 2020, in scope organisations should:
- Ensure that a number of appropriate staff have the authority to use these cards
- Open all relevant categories of spend to enable these cards to be used more widely
The guidance asks parties to act responsibly and fairly in performing and enforcing contracts. They are encouraged to act in a spirit of cooperation to achieve practical, just and equitable outcomes. In essence, rather than sticking strictly to the contract as agreed, they are encouraged to give each other leeway to deliver performance differently than they are required to do under the contract.
No, where employees cannot work from home, and it is safe for them to return to work, they should do so.
If a contract contains a force majeure clause this may become operative due to the coronavirus pandemic and related emergency legislation. Such clauses exist to ensure that if some unforeseen event prevents a party from being able to perform their obligations under a contract, either on time or at all, they will be excused from their obligations and not be held liable for non-performance.
The clause must actually be written into the contract to have effect – a force majeure clause cannot be implied into a contract. Whether it can be relied on by a party will depend on the wording of the clause itself as it may only be applicable in certain limited circumstances.
You should seek legal advice at an early stage if you think that force majeure is relevant, because a number of potentially complex issues must be addressed, many of which will turn upon the exact wording of the force majeure clause in the contract in question:
- Has a force majeure event actually arisen?
- What notification process do you have to follow to rely on the provision?
- What mitigation steps do you have to take?
- What is the effect of the force majeure event – is the contract suspended, or can it be terminated (which might not be what you want)?
A number of our clients and networks raised issues in the early stages of the Scheme around the requirement for personal guarantees to access finance under the Scheme. The Scheme has now been updated so that:
- For facilities under £250,000, personal guarantees cannot be taken to support lending under the Scheme.
- For facilities above £250,000, personal guarantees may still be required by a lender but the amount which can be recovered under these guarantees is capped at a maximum of 20% of the outstanding balance of the CBILS facility after taking into account any other recoveries from business assets.
The Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) (Amendment) (England Regulations) 2020 were laid before Parliament and come into force on 1 September 2020. They apply in England only.
The changes include the revocation of the following Use Classes;
- A1 – shops
- A2 – financial and professional services
- A3 – restaurants and cafes
- A4 – drinking establishments
- A5 – hot food takeaways
- B1 – business. Also revoked are the sub parts of B1;
- B1(a) – offices
- B1(b) – research and development of products and processes
- B1(c ) – industrial process
- D1 – non residential institutions
- D2 – assembly and leisure
The changes include the amendment of the following Use Class;
- B2 (industry)
The changes include the introduction of the following Use Classes;
- E – commercial, business and service
- F.1 – learning and non-residential institutions
- F.2 – Local community
There are no changes to the following Use Classes;
- C1 – hotels, boarding and guest houses
- C2 – residential institutions
- C3 – dwellinghouses
- C4 – small HMO
From 1 September 2020;
- Small retail shops (not more than 280 sq metres net sales area) selling essential goods including food and at least 1 kilometre from another shop will cease being an A1 use and will become a F.2 (local community) use;
- Other A1 shops will become an E (commercial, business and service) use;
- A2 uses will become an E (commercial, business and service) use;
- A3 uses will become an E (commercial, business and service) use;
- A4 uses will not be in a Use Class, they will be sui generis, ie not in any use class;
- A5 uses will not be in a Use Class, they will be sui generis, ie not in any use class;
- B1 uses (included B1(a), B1 (b) and B1 (c) will become an E (commercial, business and service) use;
- B2 uses will either be B2 uses or will be Class E uses.
- Clinics, health centres, creches, day nurseries and day centres (previously D1 uses) will become an E (commercial, business and service) use;
- Schools, non residential education and training centres, museums, public libraries, public halls, exhibition halls, places of worship, law courts (previously D1 uses) will become an F.1 ( learning and non-residential institutions) use;
- Cinemas, concert halls, live music performance venues, bingo halls and dance halls (previously D2 uses) and will be sui generis, ie not in any use class;
- Gyms, indoor sport, recreation or fitness not involving motorised vehicles or firearms principally to visiting members of the public (previously D2 uses) will become an E (commercial, business and service) use;
- Hall or meeting place for the principal use of the local community (previously D2 uses) will become an F.2 (local community) use;
- Indoor or outdoor swimming baths, skating rinks, outdoor sports or recreation grounds (not involving motorised vehicles or firearms) (previously D2 uses) will become an F.2 (local community) use.
Changes of use within a Use Class do not constitute development. That being the case, provided the Order is applicable, its operation not having been restricted by planning condition, Agreement or Article 4 (1) Direction for example, planning permission would not be required, development as defined not happening. If legally binding confirmation is required that planning permission is not required this can only be obtained by way of a successful application for a Certificate of Lawfulness. In the absence of such, there is some risk.
It remains the case that planning permission may be required for operational works to buildings. It also remains the case that other consents and permissions may be necessary for example licenses. Furthermore amendments to leases may be required if the property is rented.
The Regulations additionally include transitional arrangements because of permitted development rights for changes of use in the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order amongst others. To respond to this Regulations introduce a ‘material period’ which is defined as meaning the period beginning 1 September 2020 and ending 31 July 2021. It is expected during the material period the Orders giving permitted development rights for changes for use which do constitute development will be amended / updated to reflect the new use classes.
Click here to view the Regulations.
The above is based on our understanding of the new Regulations at the time of issue and in advance of planning practice guidance being issued.