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
Yes. You should be able to furlough a suspended employee subject to all other eligibility requirements however we recommend that you take advice on this before doing so.
You can rotate staff on furlough or flexible furlough.
One option is to make it clear in the letter agreeing to being furloughed that there is an open ended right to rotate and to be able to take them off furlough and bring them back and put them back on.
So the employer reserves the ability to rotate by building into the agreement, but only exercises it if it is permissible.
Rotation is quite key for employers who need to make a temporary reduction to their overheads but want to retain the skills base to call back when work picks up. Having furloughed staff return on a part-time basis may reduce the need to rotate.
It also helps in the employer being able to show that they are treating the workforce as fairly as possible and everyone is taking a reduction. Get in touch if you need help preparing the documentation for furlough that will permit rotation or flexible furlough.
Read more about flexible furlough and how this can be used as part of the CJRS.
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.
There are four criteria which must be satisfied if an agreement is to be considered exempt:
- It must improve production or distribution, or promoting technical or economic progress – the guidance suggests that cooperation ensuring essential goods and services can be made available to the public, or an important sub-set of the public such as key workers, will satisfy this criterion.
- It must allow consumers a fair share of the resulting benefit – the guidance suggests this will be the case where the action prevents or reduces shortages.
- It must not impose on the undertakings concerned restrictions which are not indispensable to the attainment of the above benefits – the guidance suggests this will be the case where the cooperation is the only reasonable option due to the urgency of the crisis and where the cooperation is temporary in nature.
- It must not afford the undertakings concerned the possibility of eliminating competition – therefore the parties must endeavour to retain competition in respect of the products (in particular price competition).
If such testing is regarded as a “reasonably practicable step” which has been identified as an appropriate control following a risk assessment then it is something you can do.
Although you can’t physically force someone to have something intrusive done, this is very likely to be a reasonable management instruction and therefore if someone refuses to have this done as a condition of entry into the work place then disciplinary action may follow.
Where this is something that is required of employees, employers should be letting their staff know that this is one of a number of measures that are being introduced into the workplace for their own safety. If the employer can explain, in advance of the return, why temperature checks need to be taken, what the consequences of the results will be- i.e. will they be sent home if over a certain temperature, whether this data will be stored (and if the sole purpose is to determine whether or not they are fit to attend work on a particular day then why are they being stored), and the fact that temperature checks are a requirement of entry to company premises for everyone, then there shouldn’t be significant resistance to this measure.
Large scale temperature checks have in some businesses become part of the “new normal” working environment.