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The Tories' File of Failure

EXPOSED: The Tories’ Billion-Pound File of Failure

The Tories have wasted hundreds of millions of pounds across government during the pandemic.

From failed tracing apps to useless PPE to insufficient provision for disadvantaged children, analysis by Labour shows the government has made the wrong decisions throughout the crisis.

Take a closer look…

Supplier Contract Waste
Pestfix Untested, unused coveralls £32,000,000
Various Unused coveralls £687,000,000
Various Inaccurate antibody tests £75,000,000
DHSC Salford Testing Trial forced to stop and scale back £500,000,000
Randox Laboratories Unsafe test kits £133,000,000
Ayanda Capital Unsuitable face masks £150,000,000
Serco Broken tracing system £108,000,000
Sitel Broken tracing system  £84,000,000
NHSX Abandoned contact-tracing app £11,800,000
Various Cancelled ventilator challenge £454,000,000
Various Useless antibody tests £16,000,000
TAEG energy Hand sanitiser firm was dormant £43,800,000
Edenred Delayed school meal vouchers £234,000,000
Computacenter Failed on computers for disadvantaged pupils £60,000,000
Public First Opinion research £956,000
Treasury Job Retention Bonus £2,600,000,000
Department for International Trade Luxury trade negotiation £700,000


Let's explore their failure in more detail...

Click on the tiles to jump to the relevant section.

Failure on Public Health
Failure on Schools
Failure on Economy and Trade
Failure on Defence
Failure on Housing
Even More Failure...

Failure on Public Health

Unsafe test kits

Tory donors Randox Laboratories were awarded a £133m Covid-19 testing contract. Subsequently, the DHSC ordered 750,000 of the test kits be withdrawn due to safety issues.

Healthcare firm advised by Owen Paterson won £133m coronavirus testing contract unopposed, Guardian, 11 May

Coronavirus: Randox recalls up to 750,000 test kits over safety concerns BBC News, 8 August


Unsuitable face masks

At least £150m of a £252m face masks contract with Ayanda Capital has been wasted due to the unsuitability of one type of mask ordered.

“Andrew Mills, who served as an unpaid adviser to the Board of Trade, chaired by the international trade secretary Liz Truss, secured a large deal for personal protective equipment on behalf of Ayanda Capital, an investment firm that he also advises.

The £252 million contract, signed in late April, included delivering 50 million FFP2 masks worth at least £150 million which do not meet requirements for use by frontline healthcare workers since they have ear loops instead of head loops.” The Times, 12 August


Broken tracing system

Serco was contracted for £108m and Sitel £84m to run the national tracing service until late August, when their contracts were renewed despite poor performance. 6,000 of the tracers were to be sacked at the completion of the contract with the rest deployed to local tracing teams. The national service was criticised after contacting fewer than half of people who have been in contact with someone who tested positive for Covid. Neither of the contracts apply service penalties for poor performance.

Serco and Sitel to get more public money despite track-and-trace fiasco OpenDemocracy, 11 August

NHS is accused of wasting ‘eye-watering’ amount of money as main ‘test and trace’ contract costs taxpayers £900 per person contacted Daily Mail, 7 August

We need to talk about Test And Trace Health Services Journal, 14 September


Abandoned contact-tracing app

In June, the Government abandoned development of its centralised contact-tracing app. Lord Bethell admitted that £11.8m had been spent on the project before it was ditched in favour of a decentralised version.

Hancock’s Abandoned Test and Trace App Cost Taxpayer Nearly £12m, Minister Reveals Asked by independent peer Lord Truscott just how much “this technical fiasco has cost taxpayers”, Bethell replied: “The cost to date has been £11.8m.” HuffPost, 23 June


Cancelled ventilator challenge

After reports revealed 80% of respirators in the UK stockpile were out of date when coronavirus hit, the government launched its ‘Ventilator Challenge’. The cost of the scheme was £454m, with Matt Hancock’s original plan of 30,000 items downgraded to 18,000 before the scheme was closed having delivered 14,000 ventilators. Many manufacturers with provisional orders subsequently cancelled had already purchased millions of pounds’ worth of components.

Ventilator challenge to cost government £450m despite cancellations FT, 21 May


Useless antibody tests

In April the government seemingly took a punt and ordered £16m worth of antibody tests from two Chinese firms – two million units were purchased but the tests did not work.

“Found to be insufficiently accurate by a laboratory at Oxford University, half a million of the tests are now gathering dust in storage. Another 1.5 million bought at a similar price from other sources have also gone unused. The fiasco has left embarrassed British officials scrambling to get back at least some of the money.” Independent, 17 April


Useless PPE Shipment

A ‘very significant’ shipment of PPE from Turkey, including 400,000 gowns, was found to be ‘useless’ and left in a warehouse rather than deployed in the NHS.

400,000 Turkish PPE gowns flown in by RAF’s on-off-on flight are USELESS and impounded in a warehouse tests Daily Mail, 7 May


Hand sanitiser firm was dormant

The government handed a £43.8 million contract for hand sanitiser to a dormant firm. The contract was awarded without going to competitive tender.

Byline Times, 1 September 2020


Coveralls contract

The government spent £364 million on contracts to produce coveralls for the NHS. The government received just over 430,000 coveralls for this cost, at £840 per unit.

Byline Times, 1 September 2020


Missing tests

In April, NHS staff in Epsom asked to take over testing from Deloitte after tests went missing or were sent to the wrong people. Deloitte was hired at the start of the pandemic to scale up testing nationally.

The chief executive of Epsom hospital said: “Deloitte who have been commissioned by the Department of Health directly for this are not running this as well as we would like … [We] are asking whether we can take over the running of the Chessington centre because we really need it to work much better than it is.” The Guardian, 23 April 2020

Even after this, Deloitte was handed responsibility for coordinating the network of private ‘Lighthouse Laboratory’ testing sites. Leaked emails showed these labs were unable to meet demand in August and sought help from NHS England to analyse tests. 15 September 2020


Royal Liverpool Hospital

Over five years late. Projected costs are now expected to reach £1.063 billion after the collapse of outsourcing giant Carillion. The taxpayer is still on the hook for £739 million of the overall figure.


Midland Metropolitan University Hospital

Slated for completion in 2018, the work is four years behind schedule following the collapse of Carillion. It will cost twice the original budget, leaving taxpayers footing an additional bill of £700 million.

Failure on Schools

Delayed school meal vouchers

£234 million was awarded to Edenred for a school meals contract that is now under investigation by the National Audit Office. Following the awarding of the contract it was reported parents were waiting two weeks to receive the vouchers. In the early weeks of the programme, schools were unable to log into the website to claim vouchers, and schools and parents then reported massive issues with redeeming them. Both schools and parents were still reporting issues with the system, five weeks after it launched. Some parents have reported having vouchers declined at the till. The government was able to end the contract after four weeks, but chose not to.

    • Edenred’s national voucher scheme contract worth up to £234m, new documents reveal, Schools Week, 7 May
    • Spending watchdog opens inquiry into national free school meal voucher fiasco, Schools Week, 23 July


Failed on computers for disadvantaged pupils

A £60m scheme to supply computers to disadvantaged school pupils supplied only 220,000 machines despite 540,000 children being eligible. As many as 27 academy trusts received only one computer each.

27 Academy Trusts Given Just ONE Free Laptop Each From Government

“Figures obtained by the Children’s Commissioner for England, shared exclusively with HuffPost UK, shows the chaotic rollout of the scheme left some 27 academy trusts with just one device each. In April, Williamson pledged the government would fund devices for children on free school meals in Year 10, as well as for vulnerable pupils with social workers and care leavers. But, despite some 540,000 pupils being eligible for the scheme, just 220,000 laptops were delivered to schools by August, the data shows.” HuffPost, 18 August


Priority Schools Building Programme

Aimed to rebuild or refurbish 277 schools between 2015 and 2021. So far only 133 have been completed. The programme end date has been pushed back to 2022 and then to 2025, with the whole lifetime budget increasing from £2.1 billion to £2.4 billion

Failure on the Economy and Trade

Job Retention Bonus

Rishi Sunak’s Job Retention Bonus scheme includes, by the Chancellor’s own admission, “deadweight” costs. Labour’s analysis puts the potential cost of handing this bonus to firms who would have retained staff anyway at £2.6bn.

“Throughout this crisis I’ve had decisions to make and whether to act in a broad way at scale and at speed or to act in a more targeted and nuanced way. In an ideal world you would minimise that dead weight and do everything in an incredibly targeted fashion.” Rishi Sunak, Today Programme 9 July

HMRC’s CJRS time series shows there were just over three million fewer people on furlough between 8 July when the Chancellor announced the JRB and at its peak on 8 May. Assuming 85% moved back into work, this means over 2.6m were already working again by the time the Chancellor announced the bonus. September 2020 

We have increased the estimate for the number of people on furlough on the 8th of July by 10%, in line with HMRC’s assessment that the numbers published for July are likely to rise by around 10% once all returns are received and revisions are made.

The OBR assumes 15% of workers on the JRS will move into unemployment in their central scenario, 14 July 2020


Luxury trade negotiation

The Department for International Trade spent nearly £700,000 on due diligence for a luxury trade negotiation site in Canary Wharf, made famous by being the opening exterior shot on The Apprentice. September 2020, The Evening Standard,


Managed migration to Universal Credit

Now estimated to be completed by September 2024, delayed from an original target of 2017. According to the NAO, the forecast implementation cost of Universal Credit had increased by £1.4 billion since 2018.

Failure on Defence


Fleet Solid Support Ships

Part of the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review. The tendering process has been paused twice with a further six-month delay announced in October 2020.


Nuclear Weapons Renewal Programme

Three key projects to upgrade the nuclear defence network, none of which have been completed. Costs have risen by £1.35 billion to a forecasted £2.5 billion. Delays of between 1.7 and 6.3 years, with one project not due to open until at least 2026.


Warrior Armoured Fighting Vehicles

Initially a £1.3 billon programme due to be delivered by November 2018. Now delayed until March 2023 with the total cost of the programme running to £1.5 billion.


Failure on Housing


Government missed their target to remediate all buildings with Grenfell-style ACM cladding by June 2020 and is on track to miss the current target of the end of 2021.


Housebuilding targets

The Government is on track to miss its house building target of 300,000 homes a year. At the current rate of growth, it will take until 2031 for this target to be met – 9 years later than promised.


Starter homes

The Government pledged £2.3 billion in 2015 to build the first 60,000 of 200,000 starter homes. £192m was spent but no starter homes were built.


The Green Deal

Cost £240 million but failed to deliver any meaningful benefit. Increased supplier costs and therefore energy bills.

Failure on Justice

Prison estate transformation programme

Launched in 2015 to create 10,000 new-for-old prison places by 2020. Now expected to deliver 3,566 places by 2023-24, while overall capacity in the prison estate has fallen by over 6,000.


HM Courts Modernisation Programme

An “ambitious programme of court reform” launched in September 2016. The £1.2 billion plan programme is now three years behind schedule and cost £172 million a year more than the original plans.

Even more Failure…

Northern Powerhouse Rail

High speed rail link in announced by then Chancellor Geroge Osborne in June 2014 to allow cities across the north to ”take on the world”. Six years on, work on the line hasn’t yet been approved, let alone started.

Even where projects have got off the ground, the Tories have failed to ensure the spending really makes the difference it should by employing and upskilling local people, improving the local environment and quality of life in the community.


Nightingale courts

The Criminal Bar Association accused the government of wasting millions of pounds on Nightingale courts.

“Ministers have been accused of wasting millions of pounds on “Nightingale courts” that are not being used while they continue to sell traditional court buildings and fail to invest the proceeds in the justice system.” The Times, 20 August


Polling Contracts

Two contracts worth £1 million were handed to a small polling company linked to Dominic Cummings and the Conservative party. The firm carried out focus groups on government policies. The government was able to award the contract without a competitive tender because of new coronavirus procurement rules. The Mirror, 19 August


Broadband delays
Targets for superfast broadband in 2015 were missed. Rural broadband rollout postponed and delays to the voucher scheme.

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