Updates: Phase II resetting

In light of the new Government advice – Stay alert, control the virus, save lives – we will be using this as a new section for COVID-19 updates. Scroll down to the ‘Phase One’ section for updates pre-10 May.

FAQs

Our FAQs are based on the questions that our Employment Team are responding to on a daily basis. If you have a question not covered below, please email us.

Contract and tracing - 06 July 2020

Listen to a podcast here of Professor Kate Ardern, Director of Public Health for Wigan giving a the clear and down to earth explanation of contact tracing and disease detection.

Local COVID-19 outbreak plans - July 2020

Local Outbreak Plans are designed to ensure that local systems are fully prepared and ready to respond, building on the tireless work that councils have been undertaking on this over recent months. Find out more on the ADPH website.

LGA Education HR Teams Information

Updates and Guidance

 

 

LGA Communication – 26 May 2020

The Prime Minister confirmed yesterday that from 1 June, schools and nurseries are set to open to more children, providing the government’s five tests are met by 28 May.

The prime minister announced yesterday secondary schools should plan on the basis thatfrom the week commencing 15 June, they can invite year 10 and 12 pupils (years 10 and 11 for alternative provision schools) back into school for some face-to-face support with their teachers, subject to the government’s 5 tests being met.

DfE are asking secondary schools to offer this face-to-face support to supplement the remote education of year 10 and year 12 pupils, which should remain the predominant mode of education during this term for pupils in these year groups.

DfE have published guidance for secondary schools that sets out considerations for preparing to open to more children and putting in place protective measures to limit the transmission of coronavirus. This guide is designed for mainstream and Alternative Provision secondary schools (including those with a school sixth form).

The guidance can be accessed here

Updated guidance for further education provision is expected soon


 

Further to the above, the latest SAGE papers* were published on Friday 22nd May and the DfE explanatory note on SAGE modelling was published at the weekend on Saturday 23rd May.

* The SAGE papers, which were tabled at meetings that took place on 30 April and 1 May, cover modelling and behavioural science responses to scenarios for relaxing school closures, alongside a full list of re-opening scenarios, a briefing on the role of children in the Covid-19 outbreak presented to the Dutch Parliament, transmission and susceptibility in children and; a further paper on modelling and behavioural science responses to scenarios for relaxing school closures, produced by the Interdisciplinary Task and Finish Group on the role of Children in Transmission.

The Department for Education are to engage with stakeholders tomorrow including LGA (along with teaching unions and school leaders) – to ask questions and probe the evidence behind their plans.

The final decision, which will be subject to the government’s five tests being met, will be taken as part of the formal review into lockdown measures which the law requires the Government to undertake by Thursday 28th May.

 

LGA Communication – 21 May 2020

The government has announced that primary schools in England should be planning to open more widely from 1 June 2020. This LGA guidance deals only with primary schools.

The DfE published their planning guide for primary schools on 14 May 2020.

The LGA published workforce guidance on 15 May 2020.

On 20 May 2020 the LGA released the following press statement:

LGA STATEMENT: SCHOOLS REOPENING PLANS Cllr Judith Blake, Chair of the Local Government Association’s Children and Young People Board, said: “Councils have worked with all schools to keep them open throughout the coronavirus pandemic for vulnerable children and families of key workers. We know how vital it is for a child’s development to be in school, particularly for the most vulnerable children. “Councils are keen to support their local schools to get children back as soon as possible. However, the safety of children, their families and staff will always be the top priority. “As there are different COVID-19 infection rates around the country, schools and councils must be able to work together to decide how and when schools open to more children. Some areas may want to work faster than others. “Councils also need crucial testing data to be shared with them, to help enable greater confidence for teachers and parents around school openings, and powers to manage outbreaks in places like schools, care homes, businesses and communities if new COVID-19 clusters emerge.”

LGA Guidance on key issues:

This issue is extremely complex; therefore, we are providing additional LGA guidance reflecting some of the key issues that our members have asked.

Local authorities will want to refer to the updated DfE guidance “Actions for schools during the Coronavirus outbreak” which sets out the responsibilities and actions that schools and local authorities are now expected to take. The guidance makes it clear that the government expects that “maintained, academy and independent schools should work with local authorities to ensure provision is available for priority and eligible groups.”

1) Increased pressure on local authorities:

The LGA acknowledges that the guidance regularly refers schools to look to their local authorities for help and support with complex issues during this time. This underlines the desired approach in that there is room for local decision making which

has to be based on what works for the schools including staff, parents/carers and pupils within each local authority. The DfE sets out guidance, but ultimately the risk assessments and decisions taken in responding to extending school provision have to be taken by the schools themselves – with all the information and facts close to hand, a full audit trail recorded and as much support as practicable from local authorities.

2) Who is ultimately responsible for this decision?

The above referenced DfE guidance “Actions for schools during the Coronavirus outbreak” sets out what schools and local authorities are responsible for. School leaders will obviously be planning how they can respond to the guidance and will be talking to their governing body, trust board, local authority and local trade unions as they develop plans. In which case, schools are doing the local logistical planning while the local authority has a responsibility to ensure they are also comfortable with the plans (based on the risk assessments).

Some local authorities have indicated a slightly longer timetable is needed for the safe re-opening of schools in their area. The DfE guidance said “from” 1 June, and to that end if another week or so makes it much easier to plan and consult, the LGA recommends you take that time.

In addition, the LGA advises that all schools (and local authorities) start from a place of planning positively to open from 1 June, but that if the planning process demonstrates that it is not possible to open from that date, then they should be supported in that decision.

3) Health and safety, employment and equalities legislation

The DfE planning toolkit for primary schools reminds us all that the guidance “does not supersede any legal obligations relating to health and safety, employment or equalities and it is important that as an employer you continue to comply with your existing obligations, including those relating to individuals with protected characteristics.”

The LGA strongly recommends that all authorities ensure they comply with current relevant legislation. Schools and local authorities should look to follow PHE advice on social distancing, and the situations when masks and PPE is necessary. The DfE have told us that PHE have agreed their guidance documents around opening.

4) Communicating with parents/carers Clear and regular communications are obviously crucial. Maintaining social distance may not always be possible but that in line with DfE guidance, steps are being taken to manage primary school children in small cohorts with the minimum of additional contacts possible.

5) Insurance liability questions The LGA is recommending that local authorities check their public liability insurance to confirm, that Covid-19 cases are covered, and legal leads may want to satisfy themselves that the local authority has done all it can to mitigate legal as well as other risks. The LGA advises schools and local authorities to share risk assessment plans with their trade unions and to ensure there is a clear audit trail on prioritising safety and considering all risks when reaching decisions.

6) Covid-19 and its potential impact on the BAME community, and others who may be at additional risk: The LGA have included particular consideration of potential impacts of Covid-19 on BAME communities in our call for increased local flexibilities – to allow space for this issue to be considered and ensure that all involved are as comfortable as possible with any plans for extending opening. It may be that specific risk assessments are undertaken to additionally limit the risk to some members of the BAME community until we can better understand those concerning statistics from the ONS. This should be included as part of individuals’ conversations and risk assessments. Schools will need to make their own judgements on other members of staff who may also be vulnerable, not clinically extremely vulnerable – as far as resources allow.

7) Staff attendance issues This is clearly a huge issue as part of the planning process and may end up influencing the decision about how ready a school is to extend its opening. School leaders should continue to maintain regular communication with all staff. Where a member of staff has anxieties about returning, this should be discussed on a one to one basis, allowing managers to provide as much reassurance and support as possible. We would recommend this issue is dealt with on a case by case and sympathetic basis, with any formal process only being used as a last resort.

In summary:

  • • Risk assessments carried out by schools, shared with local authorities.
  • • Risk assessments should be shared (by schools) with local trade unions.
  • • Risk assessments must adhere to H&S, employment and equalities legislation and PHE guidance.
  • • Schools need to provide clear communications to parents and carers within their school community and local authorities may be able to help with this.
  • • Local authorities should give schools and leadership teams the time and support they need to develop plans they are comfortable with.
  • • Where schools have tried but are demonstrating they have real difficulties with re-opening from the 1 June date, local authorities should continue to support schools.
  • • The DfE guidance says schools should open “from” 1 June, so schools and local authorities should take the time they need to get this right.
  • • All schools and local authorities should check their insurance policies and share plans in order to protect themselves against any future issues.
  • • Attendance issues should be dealt with sympathetically through regular communication.

We continue to have discussions with the DfE and the national Trade Unions, and will issue further updates as soon as possible.

 

LGA Communication – 12 May 2020

LGA circulars and guidance (update 15 May 2020)

Below you will find the communications that the LGA has issued with regards to COVID-19 in reverse date order (newest at the top).

 

15 May 2020

Government recovery guidance

On 11 May the government produced its COVID-19 Recovery Strategy which sets out how and when the UK will adjust its response to the COVID-19 crisis. Councils have of course continued to operate throughout the entire emergency so most of the government’s guidance will have been largely anticipated in most work areas, although it will be important to read the guidance in detail (and carry out any further necessary risk assessments).

The possible phased reopening (or expanded opening) of schools, however, will require much more work by employers, unions, school staff and parents so further NJC advice will be considered in due course as those discussions develop.

As you will be aware, many relevant issues relating to social distancing, PPE and sickness leave have been covered in earlier NJC guidance circulars, the contents of which remain applicable until they are superseded by further NJC guidance.

The government’s advice relating to employees who live with people in the shielded group has developed since the NJC circulars of 17 and 23 March were issued.

For employees who live with but don’t ‘care’ for relatives in the vulnerable groups the NJC guidance is clear that all options for working at home should be considered (including redeployment if practicable). The employer has a duty of care to the employee, so if the employee cannot work at Page 2 of 2

home and the employer insists that they should attend the workplace, the onus is on the employer to do everything possible to mitigate risk of the employee ‘taking the virus home’ to their vulnerable relative.

Q9 of the LGA Workforce Team’s FAQs also covers this issue. The employer needs to ascertain and address the employee’s concerns, particularly if they are in a role that can’t be performed at home.

Ultimately, the employer will need to decide whether to accept the employee’s concerns and, as previously advised, may have no option other than to accept that some employees will be staying at home on full pay for the duration of this emergency as they are not able to work from home.

Abuse of employees

We continue to be extremely concerned about incidences of local government employees being abused whilst going about their legitimate work. Such abuse, from a very small minority of the general public, is completely unacceptable and we urge local employers to work with the police and others to vigorously pursue the perpetrators.

Working at home tax relief

The government’s instruction that all employees who can work from home should do so, has shone a light on a previously little-known allowance that can pay up to £6 a week (£26 a month) to cover additional costs for employees who have to work from home. Note that tax relief cannot be claimed if an employee chooses to work from home. Details of the scheme and how to apply can be found here.

Annual leave

Requests for absence for bereavement and compassionate reasons must be prioritised and should take precedence over non-critical flexitime or annual leave requests. However, it is necessary to balance the need for work and rest during a prolonged period.

We have been made aware of local discussions on annual leave, with some employees finding it difficult to have leave requests granted, and others being mandated to take leave even if they don’t want to. There is a need for balance, so that while critical service delivery must always be maintained, employees must be able to take time off to ensure their well-being and that of their families.

Any new policies relating to leave including, for example, the introduction of buying / selling leave, should be subject to local negotiation and agreement.

 

12 May 2020

 

The government published its recovery strategy yesterday setting out incremental phases for reopening the economy and society.  The document refers to a suite of ‘COVID-19 Secure’ guidance for individual types of public space, including workplaces.

Last night BEIS issued this guidance to help employers, employees and the self-employed understand how to work safely during the coronavirus pandemic.

This sets out practical steps for businesses focused on 5 key points, which should be implemented as soon as it is practical:

  1. Work from home, if you can
  2. Carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment, in consultation with workers or trade unions
  3. Maintain 2 metres social distancing, wherever possible
  4. Where people cannot be 2 metres apart, manage transmission risk
  5. Reinforcing cleaning processes

This guidance is split into types of workplace:

Updates: Phase I  (Pre May 10)

 

Updated regularly as more information becomes available.

 

We have put together the best places to look for information and will continue to update our Q&As based on the questions our Employment Team are receiving on our advice line.

Critical Workers List COVID-19 (updated March 2020)
LGA circulars and guidance (update 27 April 2020)

Below you will find the communications that the LGA has issued with regards to COVID-19 in reverse date order (newest at the top).

 

27 April 2020

Please find attached the details of the new portal for Covid-19 keyworker testing.  This replaces the links previously circulated in the updates https://self-referral.test-for-coronavirus.service.gov.uk/

  • Sharing intelligence and practice -The LGA is providing COVID-19 advice which can be accessed via our home page you will see a range of information explaining our work with government on the COVID-19 Hub. The LGA workforce Team continues to provide workforce advice on COVID-19 here
    Employment Advice can be accessed via the LGA Workforce Employee Relations Unit (ERU) the latest bulletin provides updates on a range of COVID-19 issues
    Councils are being encouraged if they have a query on COVID-19 to register it here by emailing CoronaVirus.Enquiries@local.gov.uk
  • Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme Update – LGA guidance on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been updated to reflect HMRC’s helpline comments received by some councils that where an employee has multiple contracts with one employer, it may be possible to furlough one contract where the funding for that contract has gone, and for the employee to carry on working under the other contract(s).
  • Contact Tracing – PHE Letter to Directors of Public Health – This afternoon, further details have been shared with Directors of Public Health on proposals around contact tracing. LGA are working with representatives from SOLACE, ADPH, Chief Environmental Health Officers, CIEH and Faculty of Public Health to ensure a strong coordinating/system leadership role for local government.
  • COVID-19 Workforce Data Collection and Reporting Update – Following discussions at NARE and based on further clarification from MHCLG & LRFs and requests for data from DH&SC, the LGA have agree to collect workforce data once a week from councils in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. A draft template has been developed with LGA Research Team which will be shared early next week. The purpose of which is to identify workforce capacity issues, effectively lobby government for more workforce support and resources and allow data sharing across regions and the wider UK as an aid for recovery post lockdown.
  • Leadership Coaching & Mentoring Support: Leading the response to COVID-19 – As part of the LGA’s re-focused support offer to councils, working with colleagues in SOLACE, LGA are launching a national programme of coaching and mentoring for those leading the response to the COVID-19 pandemic across English local government. This funded support is aimed specifically at chief executives, directors, and professional leads, as colleagues start to prepare and implement recovery plans. The programme will also seek to capture and share important insights that will help councils now and in the future.
    It is recognised that some councils already have support in place, but we know others would appreciate help with making such arrangements. If councils would like to find out more please email covidresilience@solace.org.uk
  • COVID-19 Testing – Government announced yesterday that COVID-19 testing will include anyone who is an essential worker, including teachers, food delivery drivers or the council workforce. Employers will be able to refer symptomatic essential workers for a test online and those needing a test will be able to request one directly. To run alongside the drive for increased testing will be a national campaign to encourage greater take-up. We will share more information about this as soon as we have it.
    The Government has started a major long-term study to track the spread of COVID-19 in the general population. This will involve antibody testing to help understand levels of immunity, with plans for up to 300,000 people to take part over 12 months.
  • HSE COVID-19 Guidance – The Health and Safety Executive has issued its latest Coronavirus (COVID-19) Stakeholder Bulletin. It includes information on a number of areas of interest to Local Authorities including Guidance on fitting respiratory protective equipment (RPE), Arrangements for regulation of chemicals during the coronavirus outbreak, Health and medical surveillance during the coronavirus outbreak (which outlines a proportionate and flexible approach for occupational health providers), and updated guidance on Managing infection risks when handling the deceased.
    It also includes links to previously issued guidance on face mask fit-testing, social distancing at work, RIDDOR reporting of COVID-19, working from home, driver welfare facilities, first aid cover and qualifications, and the manufacture and supply of hand sanitisers.
  • PPE ‘Clipper’ Service – Today the LGA have issued a press release calling for the Government’s ‘Clipper’ PPE service to be rolled out now amid fears that vital life-saving PPE equipment will run out for front line workers within days. This system is intended to provide a central hub for the supply and distribution of PPE. However, it is yet to be fully up and running following a delay in going live and could take at least another three weeks before it gets up to speed.
  • Recruitment care campaign in response to COVID-19 Demand
    LGA Return to Social Work programme has recruited and trained dozens of staff, ensuring vulnerable adults and children can continue to receive the essential support that they need. This is in addition to regional recruitment campaigns run by councils themselves.
    DHSC has now launched a new national adult social care recruitment campaign. This ‘Care for Others. Make a Difference’ campaign aims to boost the adult social care workforce in England, as part of a wider plan to attract more staff into the profession.
  • Workforce Wellbeing & Resilience Update  – The LGA has a provided further updates on a range information and resources on the workforce wellbeing pages of our website. Please also see an interesting and useful article on resilience. This is a topic that we’ll be working more on in the coming weeks.
  • COVID-19: Apprenticeships Update (updated 24th April 2020) – The DfE issued updated information on apprenticeships today which provided an update on furloughed apprentices, end-point assessment, functional skills apprentices and qualification certification. For more information or queries contact Jamie.saddler@local.gov/.uk
  • Unite TU Red Book Craft/ Ministers Letter  – For your information please see attached a letter the LGA received today sent by Unite regarding the Construction Leadership Council’s site operating procedures.
  • Letter to LG Staff from Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government
    A letter was sent to all council chief executives to thank LG workforce councils have shared this with staff.
  • The LGA is providing examples from councils on how COVID-19 is being managed it would be good to hear from council so we can include practice here

 

24 April 2020

A new resource, Our Frontline has been launched today to support those under most pressure. Our Frontline is a partnership between Shout, Samaritans, Mind, Hospice UK and The Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Our Frontline offers round-the-clock one-to-one support, by call or text, from trained volunteers, plus resources, tips and ideas to look after your mental health. There is tailored material for staff working in social care, essential roles , the emergency services and health workers.

In addition, the LGA workforce wellbeing pages have advice and guidance for supporting and managing the wellbeing of frontline staff and will be publishing more wellbeing information and support for managers and staff working in social care in the next few days.

Stay safe, well and happy!

 

16 April 2020

  • DfE guidance: The coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak will impact on the ability of admission authorities (that is, local authorities, academy trusts or school governing bodies, depending on the type of school) to carry out admission appeals in the usual way. This is because appeal panels must be held in person, which would break the current restriction on gatherings of more than 2 people. There may also be problems securing sufficient independent panel members and partial school openings and closures may impact on meeting certain appeal deadlines. Read more about the school admission appeals here.
  • The Government has issued a further update to their guidance on the job retention scheme. The main changes relate to the eligibility of certain types of employee for furloughing (in particular those on IR35) and some more information on the application process. The scheme should be open to receive applications from 20 April. There remain a number of outstanding areas where further clarification is needed and we continue to raise those with Government. We in the process of updating our guidance with these changes.
  • School funding: exceptional costs associated with coronavirus (COVID-19) for the period March to July 2020 – Firstly you will note that this applies up to the end of the summer term (2019/20). It re-affirms that schools will continue to receive their core funding and therefore employers can continue to pay staff and meet regular financial commitments. The exceptional costs are generally in relation to additional costs for school closure periods e.g. increased cost of keeping buildings open; the cost of providing free school meals to students not attending school; and additional cleaning costs.
    In addition, the guidance sets ways in which schools are staffed during school closure periods, whilst taking into account the well-being of employees. Many schools will already be operating along these lines in terms of setting out rotas, collaborating across the system and making best use of supply budgets.
    If schools face other additional costs, they should contact the DfE directly (see email address within the guidance).
    Schools should continue to make a note of all additional costs, and in addition, they should also calculate the impact that a loss of income is having on services that are funded fully or partially by parental contribution e.g. wrap around care and catering, or through other income streams such as lettings
  • The Local Government Pension Scheme secretariat have updated the COVID-19 news page on www.lgpsregs.org and www.scotlgpsregs.org with the 3rd batch of administrator and employer FAQs.
  • The LGA have produced some additional Covid-19 schools guidance
  • The LGA have collated Wellbeing resources during the Covid-19 outbreak
  • The NJC for Local Government Services issued a joint circular on Social distancing (this was forwarded on Friday 3rd April)
  • Coronavirus (COVID-19): implementing social distancing in education and childcare settings – This is an update on previously published guidance
  • Coronavirus (Covid-19): school closuresThis is an update on previously published guidance. DfE acknowledge that there are still outstanding issues, and these will be dealt with over the coming weeks. This guidance has:
  1. Updated section on safeguarding to reflect interim published guidance
  2. Clarification of specific inclusions in the key workers list
  3. Change of wording on the flexibility schools have with regards to the curriculum to reflect the emergency Covid-19 Bill (schools won’t be penalised where not delivering broad and balanced curriculum in this period)
  4. An amend to the opening sentence to make clear that schools are open to both vulnerable children and children of critical workers. This is clear in the guidance, but had slipped from the opening para and has been reinstated.

 

14 April 2020

 

08 April 2020

The Government have released more guidance today with specific mention of social distancing in waste management scenarios

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/social-distancing-in-the-workplace-during-coronavirus-covid-19-sector-guidance

It mentions crews travelling together but doesn’t put a number on how many can safely travel together…

The LGA is in contact with DEFRA and will continue to feedback concerns on this issue.

For reference https://www.localgov.co.uk/Refuse-workers-in-Wirral-walk-out-over-coronavirus-fears/50313 issues may continue to escalate so please let us know if you experience any councils raising concerns over PPE / Social distancing.

 

07 April 2020

  • Following the governments update on the Job Retention scheme on 4th April please find attached an update from the LGA here: Workforce Update COVID-19 Job Retention Scheme
  • Last week the Home Secretary announced an automatic extension of visas for some overseas staff working in key roles to help manage the supply of NHS staff during the pandemic. Yesterday, the Cavendish Coalition wrote to the Home Secretary thanking her for her action and asking for the extension to be applied to social care staff as well.
    The Cavendish Coalition is a group of 36 organisations from across the UK who are committed to ensuring that the workforce needs of the social care and health sector are considered in future immigration policy. The LGA is an associate member of the Coalition.
    The letter, signed by Danny Mortimer, Chief Executive of NHS Employers who is the co-convenor of the Coalition, reads as follows:
    “I would like to thank you and your team for temporary visa extensions to help ensure the continued availability of overseas frontline staff during the Covid-19 crisis. The changes are very welcomed and will support employers in the NHS to deliver lifesaving services at a time of ever-increasing patient demand.
    However, we believe it should be noted that the UK’s response to the pandemic does not only require sustained supply within the NHS, indeed there is a notable increase in demand amongst colleagues in social care and private providers across the country.
    My co-convenors and I of the Cavendish Coalition felt it was important that we ask government to urgently reconsider these measures and extend them to skilled staff within the social care and independent sectors, which are already working in partnership with the NHS to tackle this national crisis.
    The Cavendish Coalition appreciates the administrative resource needed to encompass social care and the independent sector into further measures however it is important the approach is equitable, ensuring the system as-a-whole can cope with demand. We therefore can assure you that we will work with colleagues across social care and the independent sector to facilitate any required employer support.”

 

06 April 2020

  • Please find attached a GUIDANCE DOCUMENT and link in respect of Remote- Meetings- Regulations.
  • The Local Authorities and Police and Crime Panels (Coronavirus) (Flexibility of Local Authority Police and Crime Panel Meetings) (England and Wales) Regulations 2020 No.392
    This guidance has been produced by the Association of Democratic Services Officers (ADSO); Lawyers in Local Government (LLG) and the National Association of Local Councils (NALC) for the purpose of highlighting the changes brought in by the above regulations for the benefit of its members. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon in that capacity.
    The effect of these regulations is to provide as much flexibility as possible to local authorities in organising their meetings going forward. They apply to all types of local authorities plus fire and rescue authorities and combined authorities.
    The guidance is an immediate response to the above regulations and is based on the information available at the time. There are still a number of questions to be answered and dialogue with relevant civil servants to seek more explanation and clarity around certain issues is been undertaken. Therefore, the guidance will be updated when further information is available.
    https://www.adso.co.uk/app/uploads/2020/04/Remote-Meetings-Regulations-LLG-ADSO-Guidance-.pdf SEE will continue to update you of developments as they arise here: https://seemp.co.uk/2020/02/12/coronavirusupdates/

 

03 April 2020

  • Here is the latest Circular from the NJC relating to latest updates on social distancing and PPE in a range of work environments. There is a particular focus on the safety of employees where they are sharing a confined space in vehicles such as refuse crews and the importance of risk assessments to follow social distancing rules. NJC Circ Coronavirus and Social Distancing and PPE 03Apr20
  • The National Employers, National Fire Chiefs Council and the Fire Brigades Union reached an agreement on 26 March, relating to ‘Grey Book’ employees. The agreement recognised that as the situation with Covid-19 intensifies the capability of the FRS to sustain core services and to provide support to other vital partner agencies at the front-line of the public sector response to the Pandemic crisis will be subject to increasing demand. A copy of the agreement is available here.

 

01 April 2020

Guidance for ‘Working from home’ – 01 April 2020

  • HSE usual standard for DSE and working from home or agile working is available here. Their standard approach for mobile/agile/home working is attached here as a PDF from the Chartered Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors.
  • Advice re temporary homeworking and mitigating lesser risks from doing it in the short term due to the Covid crisis is available here.

Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government Bulletin 01 April 2020

WISH guidance on Waste Management01 April 2020

Local Government data reports on Coronavirus – 01 April 2020

You’ll no doubt have seen some of the Public Health England data which has been published, about the number of hospital cases of coronavirus. In the main, it has focused on the national picture. The LGA have now added the data to LG Inform to make it more useful to local authorities.

They have created two reports which, rather than showing only the current data for authorities, show the data over time.  They have also combined the information with population data, to create a rate per 100,000 people (to show the authorities with a bigger proportion of their population with coronavirus rather than the biggest absolute number).

They show the top ten councils (by total number of cases, as a rate, and by the biggest number on a single day) on a daily basis.

 

31 March 2020

 

Updated Covid 19 Guidance for Councillors – 31 March 2020

 

27 March 2020

 

NJC Circular – 27 March 2020 – Coronavirus General Update

 

26 March 2020

LGA Communication – 26 March 2020

 

25 March 2020

LGA Communication – 25 March 2020 – Updated Department of  Health and Social Care (DHSC) comment regarding Movement during ‘Stay at Home’ restrictions.

“More guidance is going out to police today about what they should and shouldn’t be doing so hopefully this will settle down. We have been really clear about the importance of social care. The PM mentioned it in his statement on Monday night and the SoS did at the press conference last night. But it is difficult to ensure there won’t be a few off-kilter decisions made by a few police officers across the country”

LGA Communication – 25 March 2020

  • Statement from the UK Public Health Register confirming waiver of certain professional requirements and includes a standby call on return of retired specialists and practitioners, as well as volunteers etc.
  • Fire Brigades Union (FBU) & National Fire  Chiefs Council (NFCC) statement issued yesterday ref COVID-19 information.

 

LGA Communication – 25 March 2020 – Further updates from Department for Education (DfE)

 

24 March 2020

LGA Communication – 24 March 2020 – Department of  Health and Social Care (DHSC) response regarding Movement during ‘Stay at Home’ restrictions.

“We’ve had some queries about whether now, given there are more stringent restrictions on movement, workers will be asked to provide proof of status to allow them to move freely to and from work and on public transport. Stakeholders have referred to documentation that has been issued centrally by governments in other countries.

I wanted to let you know that this is not currently part of the plan here, although clearly it may be something that is considered in future. If asked by police the purpose for their journey those working in eg. the social care sector should simply state they are travelling to carry out work that cannot be done at home, and explain their key worker status. If employers feel that their staff would feel reassured by it, we suggest they provide a hard or electronic copy of a letter from their employer explaining their key worker status and why travel to a place of work is essential”

 

23 March 2020

NJC Circular – 23 March 2020 – Coronavirus and Critical Workers

LGA Communication – 23 March 2020 – sharing key links for new and updated DFE guidance:

New GOV.UK collection page – all our GOV.UK CoV content in one place: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-schools-and-other-educational-settings

20 March 2020

LGA Press Release – 20 March 2020 – Response to Key Worker Definition

LGA Update – 20 March 2020 – Workforce Update – Critical Workers

LGA Workforce guidance – 20 March 2020 – School closure due to COVID-19

LGA Communication – 20 March 2020 – sharing Government Information:

The LGA will be issuing further workforce guidance on school closures ASAP. In the meantime here is information from the Government on Critical Workers and Information for parents and carers.

 

19 March 2020

LGPS Guidance – 19 March 2020 – Reemployment of Key Workers Guidance on impact of recently retired workers returning to work.

 

17 March 2020

NJC Circular – 17 March 2020 – Coronavirus and Working at Home. Guidance on all those in ‘at risk’ categories who have been advised to self-isolate and those who can work form home.

 

06 March 2020

NJC Circular – 6 March 2020 – Coronavirus updated Guidance

 

12 February 2020

NJC Circular – 12 February 2020 – Coronavirus

LGA Information for councils (updated daily)
LGA Education HR Teams Information (updated 28 April 2020)

Our guidance and updates for Education HR teams can be viewed here

Public Health England (updated daily)

Public Health England issue daily updates via the Gov.uk website.

Public Health Updates (updated 01 May 2020)

01 May 2020

The best news this week is that we are passing through the peak of the COVID-19 outbreak and that everyone’s huge sacrifice in staying at home is working. But the most important message this week is from the Prime Minister that this is also the moment of greatest risk and whilst plans are being thought through on how to ease restrictions, they will need to remain in place for some time. It really is a marathon, not a sprint.

Testing expansion

The success of its coronavirus testing programme allowed the Government to announce on Tuesday that anyone in England with COVID-19 symptoms who has a job which cannot be done from home is now eligible to get tested, as are any symptomatic members of their household. You can see the full list of essential workers here and anyone who is eligible can book a test using this online portal. All symptomatic members of the public aged 65 and over, and symptomatic members of their household, are also now eligible to get tested.

In just a few short weeks, thanks to the collective grit and determination of scientists and logistics professionals from Government, PHE, the NHS, the military and commercial partners, the UK has created a test for the virus, more than doubled the productivity of NHS and PHE laboratories, built a network of 50 regional testing centres, scaled up to 70 mobile units, and created home testing kits which are backed up by the Lighthouse laboratories, or as Professor John Newton has coined them – the mega-labs.

This is the biggest expansion of UK diagnostic capacity in modern times, and I am certain that the 100,000 daily testing target by the end of April is just the start of what we are now capable of doing to protect our citizens. You can read more in John’s blog.

Contact tracing

We are on track in scaling up the contact tracing capacity too. This week, NHS Professionals and commercial partners began the recruitment of an initial 18,000-strong contact tracing team as part of the Government’s Test and Trace programme. This is an integrated approach bringing together the assets of local, regional and national partners in the public health system. PHE and colleagues from local government and the Faculty of Public Health are at the heart of designing this programme.

Social care

Critical steps have also been taken to support the adult social care system. The action plan for adult social care has a four-pronged approach: first, controlling the spread of infection, second, supporting the workforce, third, supporting independence and people at the end of their lives and responding to individual needs, and fourth, supporting local authorities and the providers of care. Data is essential for all of these and starting this week, PHE is publishing a weekly datasetthat shows the number and percentage of care homes reporting a suspected or confirmed outbreak of COVID-19 by local authority and NHS region. This sits alongside our weekly surveillance report and infographic.

To support those who provide and receive social care, PHE has also published two resources that adapt our existing PPE guidance to be more applicable in the context of care homes anddomiciliary care.

Deaths

And finally, another important data development this week is the links we can now make with three data sources to give us a more complete, daily understanding of the number of deaths following a positive test for COVID-19. We can now report daily deaths in all settings, including hospitals, care homes and the wider community by ensuring that NHS England data collected from trusts, deaths collected electronically from NHS information systems, and reports from PHE Health Protection Teams as part of their local outbreak management are included. You can read more about this here.

 

27 April 2020

 

24 April 2020

Test, Track and Trace

Alongside a new NHSX App – previewed here – and the anticipated very careful and gradual lifting of social distancing measures, phone and web-based contact tracing will be a critical part of the Government’s strategy in getting the country back on its feet. As the CMO said this week, we are likely to be living for many more months with a degree of social distancing arrangements in place, but work is underway to prepare for the next phase, with a Test, Track and Trace programme at the heart of this.

At PHE we are preparing for a massive scale up of our contact tracing capacity, with the Department of Health and Social Care organising the recruitment of what will be an initial 18,000 strong team of contact tracers, from many backgrounds including from local government, the NHS and volunteers. Local government in particular will be helping with the design and running of the system. During the initial ‘contain’ phase of the outbreak, PHE built a new Contact Tracing and Advisory Service, which is an online platform where people with a positive COVID-19 test result can input their history of contacts, giving the contact tracers a flying start in working out who they need to reach by email and phone. More on this to follow soon.

Ethnicity review

There appears to be a disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on Black, Asian and minority ethnic people and we need to develop a better understanding of the reasons behind this. As a first step, PHE will be linking thousands of existing health records for confirmed COVID-19 cases to gather more robust data, and I am delighted that Trevor Phillips OBE and Professor Richard Webber have agreed to provide expert independent support. This will be complemented by the call on Wednesday from the National Institute for Health Research for rapid research proposals on COVID-19 and ethnicity.

Ramadan

Yesterday was the start of Ramadan and staying at home and practising social distancing during this holy month will play an important part in slowing the spread of COVID-19. These extraordinary measures are supported by The Muslim Council of Britain and the British Board of Scholars and Imams, and places of worship will remain closed for the current time. However, despite being physically apart, religious practices can still be observed, and your faith leaders will be able to advise on the best ways to stay connected. Read our blog to find out more.

Surveillance

Each Thursday, PHE will be publishing weekly COVID-19 surveillance reports and infographics. This blog explains the data mix we are bringing together and you can see the first of the reports here. Complementary regionalised data will also be available. Do not forget our daily dashboard is also available here.

 

20 April 2020

The Coronavirus National Testing Programme has now expanded capacity to test other frontline workers who are having to self-isolate due to having coronavirus-like symptoms or because a member of their household has symptoms. Find out more here.

08 April 2020

The British Medical Association & the NHS Resolution (formerly the NHS Litigation Authority) have asked LGA if councils have received any queries about indemnity insurance for retired public health consultants who return to work in local government. They have prepared an FAQ in response

“We’ve received queries from public health consultants who are returning to work (answering the call from the GMC), but who would be working for local authority public health teams or Public Health England. They are unsure if clinical negligence cover will be available for them given the definitions in the Coronavirus Act 2020.

Answer:  Public health consultants returning to work for local authorities should check the cover position with the authority in question.  Section 11 of the Coronavirus Act does not extend to local government.  Those returning to work for Public Health England will be covered by government indemnity via NHS Resolution.”

Have you had any queries regarding this?

 

Social Work Together- 08 April 2020

The Department for Education, the Department of Health and Social Care, Social Work England and the LGA have launched a ‘Social Work Together’ campaign. This campaign is designed to support former social workers return to practice so they can help communities through the COVID-19 pandemic.

The campaign provides councils with access to an online tool where they can find and engage with returning social workers in their areas.

For more information contact Suzanne.hudson@local.gov.uk

Update from Public Health England – 06 April 2020

PHE’s Professor John Newton has been appointed by the Secretary of State in a new role as the Government’s National Testing Coordinator. John will have a specific remit to advise ministers on how best to drive forward the Government’s strategy which seeks to bring together the capacity of public sector, industry and university power to fight the virus.

Since the COVID-19 outbreak began, every country has been racing to increase its testing capacity. The UK is no exception. Thanks to PHE’s scientific capability, the UK was one of the first countries outside China to have an assured test in place. This has enabled PHE and NHS laboratories to ensure that every hospital patient that requires a test has received one and we have delivered our target of achieving 10,000 tests per day and are well on track to reaching 25,000 tests per day – or 750,000 tests per month – by the end of April.

The next big development, on stream in a matter of days, will be the new mega-lab facilities at Milton Keynes, Cheshire and Glasgow which will be pivotal in delivering the Government’s commitment to 100,000 tests a day and particularly for key workers. This represents the scientific equivalence in terms of scale and pace, as the new NHS Nightingale hospitals.

I extend a heartfelt thank you to all PHE staff, in particular our scientists, who are working unrelentingly day and night, seven days a week, and I am immensely proud of you for this.

Guidance

The UK Government has published new guidance about personal protective equipment (PPE) for those in the NHS and social care. Agreed by the four Chief Medical Officers, Chief Nursing Officers and Chief Dental Officers, this is based on the best scientific evidence and the World Health Organization has confirmed it is consistent with what it recommends in circumstances and settings with the highest risk of transmission. I would like to thank the Royal College of Nursing, Royal College of Midwives, the British Medical Association and the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges for their help in ensuring that this refreshed guidance addresses the concerns of colleagues on the frontline, which is of course of utmost importance.

On Sunday, PHE published new guidance setting out practical actions the public can take to look after their mental health and wellbeing, as well as separate guidance tailored for parents and carers on supporting children and young people’s mental health, both developed in partnership with leading mental health charities and clinically assured by the NHS.

Related to this is how the end of life is sensitively handled and the difficult decisions on how to advise family and friends on social distancing at funerals. We consulted faith groups and this week published guidance on the care of the deceased with suspect or confirmed COVID-19, and all our thoughts are with the families and friends who have lost loved ones.

WhatsApp

We have launched a WhatsApp chatbot tool to ensure that the public have trustworthy information about COVID-19 from GOV.UK and NHS.UK, including advice on prevention, symptoms and staying at home. The new service has already attracted one million messages and you can add 07860 064422 in your phone contacts and then send ‘hi’ in a WhatsApp message to get started.

Update from The Mental Health Foundation – 01 April 2020

Infectious disease outbreaks, like the current Coronavirus (COVID-19), can be scary and can affect our mental health. While it is important to stay informed, there are also many things we can do to support and manage our wellbeing during such times. Read their guidance here.

Update from Public Health England (27/03/20)

Ensuring that frontline clinicians are safe is crucially important and the PPE guidance, jointly developed with the NHS and the devolved administrations, is kept under constant review and there will be a further communication on this shortly.

There are around 1.5 million people who face the highest risk from coronavirus. These are extremely vulnerable people due to their very specific and serious health conditions and are the people we need to support and protect the most. We cannot stress enough the importance of shielding as a strategy to protect the extremely vulnerable during this unprecedented outbreak, with the most important measure being to stay at home at all times for at least 12 weeks and strictly reduce the number of individual contacts whenever possible.

NHS England is writing to every person in this category to provide information about how to access care and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, working with local government, has set out several new services to support them, including a helpline and a new Local Support System that will make sure that those who are self-isolating at home and without a support network of friends and family receive what they need. You can access PHE’s guidance on shielding here.

It is phenomenal that more than 640,000 people have already signed up to volunteer to support the NHS, playing a crucial role in delivering food and medicines, driving patients to appointments, and phoning people to check they are alright during their time at home.

Staff survey

And finally, the Government has this week published the results of the 2019 Civil Service People Survey including for PHE. There is much to be encouraged by these with our highest response rate so far at 81% and a further overall improvement in the staff engagement index, which is the benchmark for whether colleagues feel we are getting most things right. But there are of course themes for improvement and areas of our organisation that need more attention and we shall definitely focus on these. The whole organisation response to COVID-19 speaks to the strength and breadth of our contribution and I am immensely proud of this and our people. The importance of respect, decency and kindness, looking after and out for each other could not be clearer and this matters very much to me.

 

Update from Public Health England (13/03/20)

Critical in our response to the COVID-19 outbreak is not only what we do, but when we do it. Taking the right combination of steps at the right time based on scientific evidence is important for many reasons, most notably in ensuring that they have as positive an impact as possible and are sustainable.

The most significant development this week was the Prime Minister’s decision to move into the delay phase, and with this we are advising anyone with a new continuous cough or a high temperature to stay at home and not leave for 7 days from the onset of these symptoms. This very important action will help protect others in the community while they are infectious. To ensure that you can all make a difference, plan ahead and ask your employer, friends and family to help you get the things you need. You can find out everything you need to know about staying at home in our guidance for people with confirmed or possible COVID-19 infection.

We also launched on Tuesday the COVID-19 tracking dashboard, which shows reported cases of coronavirus in the UK, new cases confirmed each day, cases by upper tier local authority in England and the number of UK deaths due to coronavirus. Recovery numbers will be included from next week. The dashboard has had 2 million clicks so far, which is further evidence that this is the number one concern for the country. It will continue to be developed, and feedback would be appreciated.

A laptop screen showing Coronavirus tracking in the UK

 

Update from Public Health England 14/02/20:

This week, we have seen the novel coronavirus outbreak continue to escalate and the World Health Organisation has officially named the disease COVID-19. Five further patients in England tested positive for the infection this week, bringing the total number of cases in the UK to nine. Two of these five were healthcare workers, resulting in PHE asking a number of other healthcare colleagues to take precautionary and preventative action and self-isolate. I would like to thank the NHS in Sussex in particular this week for their professionalism in the way they responded to these cases locally.

Public Health England Logo

PHE now has a very extensive and complex contact tracing operation underway with health protection teams around the country diligently talking to people that might have been in close contact with carriers of the virus to assess their risk, provide advice and ultimately prevent further spread. You can read an explanation about our approach to contact tracing in this blog.

On Thursday, the first cohort of people repatriated from China left the Arrowe Park Hospital facility in Wirral, where they have been in supported isolation since returning to the UK. Colleagues from PHE, NHS England, Wirral Council and indeed the surrounding community in the Wirral have done a superb job at supporting people in these difficult circumstances. This sincere message of thanks says it all.

Update from Public Health England 13/02/20:

The novel coronavirus outbreak continues to evolve and yesterday we had our third confirmed case. On Friday last week, a Foreign Office-chartered aircraft carrying 83 British nationals arrived in the UK from Wuhan and this week a further 11 people returned. They are currently spending 14 days in supported quarantine, which is one of the many precautionary measures being actioned to protect the UK and has involved a herculean effort by national government, the NHS, the emergency services and PHE. We have also launched a UK-wide public information campaign with advice on how people can protect themselves and their families from the infection.

Critical work is also being carried out in our specialist laboratories and this week, PHE sequenced the viral genome from the first two positive cases in the UK and made it available to the scientific community. Our findings suggest that the virus has not evolved in the last month. The government has pledged £20 million to support the international Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations to develop vaccines against the novel coronavirus, with the aim of advancing 2019-nCoV vaccine candidates into clinical testing as quickly as possible. This funding will also support a better epidemiological and clinical understanding of the virus. PHE will be contributing to this with the full panoply of our talent, capabilities and knowledge.

The Secretary of State, Matt Hancock MP, announced this funding on his visit to our Porton Down campus, where he saw unique UK scientific capability to work with the novel coronavirus and test potential vaccines when they become available, as well as state of the art new laboratories that produce a world-leading treatment for childhood leukaemia.

Government Updates (updated daily)

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Cyber security updates (updated 03 April 2020)
MESSAGE FROM SEGWARP

 

Zoom security – 03 April 2020

 

With more remote working creating the potential for increased vulnerabilities, I wanted to bring to your attention a potential threat that has been raised by the SEGWARP group and is likely to be of relevance to you and colleagues. This relates to the use of the Zoom video conferencing platform:

As more and more meetings ‘go virtual’, organisations are experimenting with the plethora of video conferencing platforms available. One such platform seeing increasing popularity is Zoom. It is easy to use and handles multiple video streams well.

One particular security issue, which has come to be known as ‘Zoom-bombing’ has come to light. There have been a number of stories in the media where inadequately secured Zoom sessions have been hijacked by unknown external parties.

Fortunately, there are ways to lock down your Zoom sessions by ensuring that you:

  • Use a meeting password
  • Set screen sharing to “Host only”
  • Disable file transfer
  • Disable “Join before host”
  • Disable “Allow removed participants to rejoin”

The latest angle affecting Zoom is malicious actors setting up fake Zoom domains and executables in an attempt to share malware.

Zoom is a great platform but it is probably best not to use it for anything sensitive.

 

27 March 2020

 

Now that the Chancellor has announced the new Income Support Scheme for the self-employed, it is highly likely that a new wave of scam emails, calls and text messages claiming to be from HMRC will start to circulate. They will no doubt be offering financial help in exchange for you bank details etc. and probably contain a link where an email or text is concerned.

 

The messages will be scams – do not respond, delete immediately. HMRC do not contact people out of the blue asking for these details.

 

Be vigilant, stay safe.

 

26 March

 

In times of crisis when fear of the unknown is heightened, people – particularly the vulnerable, become more susceptible to trickery. Unfortunately, there are plenty of malicious individuals out there who are willing to leverage the situation in order to make a quick buck.

 

The government are relying on emails and text messages as communication channels and we are already seeing scams circulating which have untrustworthy links in them. Many have seen text messages which look like they come from GOV.UK and suggest that some kind of financial support package is available. They require your bank details and provide a link for you to click on. These texts are scams and should be deleted immediately. Remember, if the link does not end in “gov.uk” or “nhs.net”, it is not legitimate.

 

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) are taking down a lot of these malicious websites as soon as they become aware of them. If you are sent a suspicious email or text, please report it via the Netcraft website at: https://report.netcraft.com/report

 

Be vigilant, stay safe.

 

The logo for SEGWARP

 

It is important that we share this message to as many people as possible so we have developed a toolkit that you can easily share via email or your social media channels.

You can download our ‘Be Cyber Aware’ images below. They contain a set of images that can be used in emails or via your own digital channels (web and social)

Square version – for use on Twitter and Facebook

Rectangle version – for use on Linkedin

Social media friendly copy you can use across your channels:

Be Cyber Aware during #COVID19. Follow the #SEGWARP guidelines here and be vigilant and stay safe… https://seemp.co.uk/2020/03/26/be-cyber-aware-during-covid-19/

 

Be Cyber Aware image Segwarp

Be cyber aware image, padlock over a black background

 

What is SEGWARP?

South East Government Warning, Advisory and Reporting Point (SEGWARP) is one of a number of groups around the country designed to bring together information security officers from local government. The aim is to provide a one-stop shop for early warning, information sharing and best-practice advice around the latest cyber-security threats.

South East Employers runs SEGWARP in conjunction with a specialist WARP manager. We also have the co-operation of the LGA, other WARPs around the country, local resilience forums and specialist organisations such as the local Regional Organised Crime Unit (ROCU)

Find out more about SEGWARP and how you can join here.

 

Useful links

Some helpful resources from the Regional Organised Crime Unit, to kickstart cyber-security conversations in your organisation.

Coronavirus Updates for Apprenticeships (updated 04 May 2020)

Update from Education and Skills Funding Agency – 04 May 2020

New flexibilities to make it easier for end-point assessments to take place during the COVID-19 outbreak have been introduced.

The new temporary flexibilities, are set out in this list published by IfATE.

The flexibilities, which may include remote assessment in areas previously assessed through face-to-face contact, have been introduced to ensure apprentices can progress normally where possible, while maintaining high-quality standards.

Remember that furloughed apprentices can also still take their EPAs, as long as they meet the correct conditions.

More information about the delivery of assessment is available in:;

If the information you want is not included in IFATE’s guidance, or the FAQs, please send a question to Enquiries.IFA@education.gov.uk and IFATE will come back to you as quickly as possible.

 

Update from the Education and Skills Funding Agency 27 April 2020

Apprenticeship programme response to COVID-19

Version 3 of our guidance has just been published.

It can be read here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-apprenticeship-programme-response/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-apprentices-employers-training-providers-end-point-assessment-organisations-and-external-quality-assurance-pro

This version focuses on:

  • Further information on calculating wages for furloughed apprentices
  • Clarification that a furloughed employee can start an apprenticeship
  • Information on collecting signatures
  • Additional content on flexibilities of end-point assessment
  • Flexibilities for English and Maths functional skills for Intermediate (level 2) apprentices
  • Flexibilities on qualification certification

We will be setting up webinars shortly where the policy authors will go through the changes and take part in a question and answer session.

The webinars enable us to listen to your views and capture your valuable insight.

Provider Relief Scheme

This scheme is not only for Independent Training Providers. Any provider with AEB and non-levy apprenticeship contracts for services are eligible – subject to conditions.

The Provider Relief Scheme will open for applications today and is available to training providers with contracts for services that were procured as a service under the Public Contract Regulations 2015.

The purpose of the Relief Scheme is to ensure training providers can continue to deliver high quality education and training to make sure we have the skills needed to rebuild our economy post COVID-19.

This also includes supporting new learners where possible to get the skills they need to progress.

Training providers will need to demonstrate that they have a need for the funding requested in order to maintain capacity within their organisations to support learners and respond to the economic recovery.

If successful, providers will later need to provide a summary of how the funds have been used, and retain evidence, for audit purposes, that they have delivered activities prescribed by the scheme and that the funds have been used for eligible costs.

We reserve the right to recover unused funds or funds used inappropriately.

The closing date for applications is 30 April 2020 at midnight and providers will be notified if they are to receive support on or around 15 May 2020.

All the details can be read here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/esfa-post-16-provider-relief-scheme

 

Update from the LGA – 22 April 2020

Update to Teacher Apprenticeship End Point Assessment

The Teacher Apprenticeship Trailblazer Group has announced that temporary alternative arrangements are being put in place for the lesson observation element of the End Point Assessment (EPA) for this Apprenticeship Standard due to the impact of COVID-19. The lesson observation element can now be awarded based on assessment of observations during the consideration of the Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) award. The discussion element of the EPA is expected to go ahead as normal and these provisions only apply to apprentices whose EPA was due to take place before the end of the current academic year. You can read more here.

 

Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers (RoATP)

As you may be aware, the RoATP is closing for new applications due to the impact of COVID-19. However the ESFA has now agreed that employers of key workers can by exception continue applying to join the register as employer providers.

  • To make an application, employers should consult the application guidance and speak to their account manager. Their account manager will work with them to complete and submit the appropriate form.
  • Submitting an exceptional application is not a guarantee of acceptance – all applications will undergo a full assessment in the normal way.
  • Employers of key workers are as defined in DfE’s advice to schools.

Further information is available in last week’s ESFA Update.

 

T-Levels

Lastly, an update went out from government on T-Levels in light of the current COVID-19 disruption. In case you missed it, we’ve reproduced the email below:

The Government remains fully committed to continuing with the delivery of both T Levels and the T Level Transition Programme in 2020 and 2021 as planned. While the Covid-19 outbreak has had a huge effect, we are determined that students will not lose out on opportunities, and now, more than ever, it is vital for the economy that we have a pipeline of skilled young people to help the economy recover. The majority of 2020 providers are keen to continue with delivery, though many of course do have concerns that we will need to work through alongside them.

We understand that at the moment offering industry placements for young people cannot be a priority for most companies as they focus on doing what they can to protect their business and their workforce. Even after the crisis has eased it will remain challenging for companies to offer industry placements. The industry placement is however an absolutely core part of a T Level and we are determined to work with providers and with business to continue to deliver these as part of the T Level programme. 

In addition, we have also announced:

  • That qualification specifications for the first three T Levels have been approved by the Institute and accredited by Ofqual. While providers have seen drafts of these qualifications, this is an important step towards first teaching of T Levels in September and will allow providers to plan their course and curriculum. You can find more information on this in the Institute for Apprenticeships & Technical Education news story.
  • That we will not claw back Capacity and Delivery Funding for providers who are unable to deliver their targets for industry placements this academic year, given it will in many cases be impossible for students to be on site for a work placement. We will ask providers for evidence of the work that they are doing in this area, including building links with businesses and doing what they can to make sure that they are well set up for Industry Placements for next year. While offering placements will of course remain challenging even after restrictions are eased, students must be work-ready before they undertake Industry Placements, so for next academic year we would expect them in most cases to be weighted towards the latter part of the course.

There is of course much work to do before first teaching of T Levels in September, and before T Levels are embedded throughout the education system, but we are committed to ensuring that these qualifications, developed with industry, are successful. 

If you have any questions please contact your account manager.

 

Update from Education and Skills Funding Agency – 07 April 2020

 

 

Update from Education and Skills Funding Agency – 06 April 2020

 

  • We have published a video that shows employers how to use pause & stop in the apprenticeship service to record a break in learning.This video takes employers through the new measures relating to breaks in learning that were recently detailed in the apprenticeship programme response to COVID-19 document. We also describe why they might want to pause or stop an apprentice record in the apprenticeship service, and how to do it.We also explain the steps that training providers have to take to record apprentice “breaks in learning” through the Individualised Learner Record, or ILR.
Job Retention Scheme (updated 27 April 2020)

Below you will find updated information relating to the Job Retention Scheme

 

Updated 27 April 2020

  • Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme Update – LGA guidance on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been updated to reflect HMRC’s helpline comments received by some councils that where an employee has multiple contracts with one employer, it may be possible to furlough one contract where the funding for that contract has gone, and for the employee to carry on working under the other contract(s).

 

Updated 08 April 2020

  • The Job Retention Scheme will have an online portal open to receive applications from 20 April 2020 with the first payments expected to be made by the end of this month.  Chief Exec of HMRC, Jim Harra, informed the Treasury Committee this morning of the opening dates and that 5,500 staff were ready to process applications.  Reports earlier today were reflecting that the demand for the scheme from the private sector was likely to be three times that expected when the scheme was originally announced.  LGA guidance on the scheme was issued on Monday
COVID-19 Cases Tracker (updated daily)

The LGA provide a COVID-19 Hospital Cases Tracker on their website.

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