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…
|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|
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 Subsequently, the DHSC ordered 750,000 of the test kits be withdrawn due to safety issues.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.
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.
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
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.
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
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,
Even More Failure…
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
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