Wednesday 25 November 2020 / 12:09 PM Coronavirus

Labour demands answers for the taxpayer over 184 million items of PPE not fit for purpose

Labour has demanded the Government come clean over how much taxpayer money has been wasted on unusable PPE – after the Government’s own response to a National Audit Office report suggested the true total is at least 184 million pieces.

The amount would be a substantial increase on the previously reported 50 million unusable face masks ordered by the Government as part of a £150 million deal with Ayanda Capital. Ayanda’s Senior Board Adviser Andrew Mills is linked to International Trade Secretary Liz Truss’ through advising her Board of Trade.

The findings are drawn from the Cabinet Office’s own response to the National Audit Office’s report into pandemic procurement, released last week.

The findings come as a new National Audit Office report looking specifically at the government’s PPE procurement confirms that frontline workers didn’t have access to adequate PPE early on in the pandemic. It says that they were put at unnecessary risk and that a significant reason for the shortage was the Government’s failure to prepare properly and take on board warnings about stockpiles.

With news that the government set up special channels for “VIPs” to win lucrative PPE contracts, and with the possibility that some firms may have paid five times the going rate for PPE equipment, Labour are calling for urgent transparency from the government on how much PPE has been unused, how much of that PPE that was not up to scratch and how much is linked to Conservative friends and donors.

A Labour spokesperson said:

“In attempting to rebut the NAO’s startling findings, the Cabinet Office have accidentally shone a light on their mishandling of PPE procurement. As the NAO’s report made clear, there is an urgent need for transparency so the government can be properly held to account for their use of the public’s money.

“When so many frontline workers were left without necessary PPE at the start of the pandemic, the Tories need to come clean on exactly how much has been wasted because of their incompetence and what they are doing to stop this happening again.”