25 March 2020
New measures to support suppliers and business impacted by COVID-19
Northern Ireland government departments are taking steps to support their suppliers at risk from the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) disruption.
The departments will ensure that they pay their suppliers as quickly as possible to maintain cash flow and protect jobs. They will also take action to continue to pay suppliers at risk due to COVID-19 on a continuity and retention basis so they are able to resume normal service delivery and fulfil their contractual obligations when the outbreak is over.
Suppliers to government can request relief using various options such as interim payments, advance payments for goods or services, changes to delivery and payment dates and bringing forward orders and payments.
Departments will be required to use reasonable endeavours to provide relief through existing contractual mechanisms such as relaxing key performance indicators and service credits, and delays to delivery dates.
Supplier requests for relief must receive a response within three days of receipt. If approved, the supplier must provide a certificate of costs which sets out the supplier's actual costs, expenses, cash flow and profits. The supplier will also be required to ensure that staff and the contract supply chain are paid promptly.
Suppliers must provide any information or evidence which may be reasonably required to verify the supplier has applied any monies as agreed with the department.
Further detail of the measures are outlined in the latest Procurement Policy Note (PPN) from Cabinet Office: Procurement Policy Note 02/20: Supplier relief due to COVID-19.
Suppliers seeking relief as a result of the impact of COVID-19 must contact the relevant Government contract manager. Each contract will have a contract manager and a mechanism to alert the government client of any issues.
If there are cases where government suppliers are found to be taking undue advantage or failing to act transparently or with integrity, departments will take action to recover payments made and consider mandatory or discretionary exclusion from future government contracts.
First published 25 March 2020