The Barclaycard ePayments Service for the Welsh public sector has been in operation since 2014, and is currently used by over 110 organisations.
The service provides Welsh Purchasing Cards (WPC), which offer flexible ways of quickly purchasing goods. This has been particularly beneficial, ensured business continuity and helped to ensure critical support has reached vulnerable individuals during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The COVID-19 outbreak placed increased pressure on commercial and finance teams, and increased importance on maintaining cash flow to suppliers. With lockdowns and office closures, procurement teams faced the challenge of adapting to new ways of working, whilst still providing the same services to the public. Many did not have access to their usual IT and procurement systems, or their normal means of buying and paying for goods and services.
Use of WPCs during COVID-19 has enabled organisations in Wales to support the needs of vulnerable individuals in the community that have not been able to leave their homes for their own safety and well-being. There was an immediate and urgent need to issue hundreds of cards to staff and volunteers in the support network of these vulnerable individuals, to ensure provision of critical goods.
This enabled them to buy and deliver food, clothes, medical supplies and prescriptions, and assist with household expenditure and residential care home spend.
A representative from Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council said:
“Having successfully utilised purchase cards for many years as part of its regular business activities, Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough was able to meet the unique and immediate challenges of the pandemic by reallocating a number of its existing purchase cards to the support services set up to directly deliver to the most vulnerable.
Whilst reallocating cards to the frontline was the immediate priority, the financial controls built into the system enabled all transactions to be robustly monitored and authorised.”