PPE failures and £4.3bn lost to Covid loan fraud, report says
Almost £9billion has been wasted on personal protective equipment, he revealed tonight.
In a staggering illustration of government waste, much of the Covid kit was faulty or unused before its expiry date.
Ministers also paid hugely on odds and ended up with equipment that later plummeted in value. A total of £8.7bn had to be written off by the Department of Health and Social Care.
The damning revelation comes a week after it emerged that £4.3billion had been lost to coronavirus relief loan scams.
Nearly £9billion has been wasted on personal protective equipment, it emerged tonight
Pressed in the Commons yesterday over fraud failures, Chancellor Rishi Sunak (pictured) was forced to insist the Government prosecute ‘every suspect’
Wes Streeting, Labor Health spokesman, said: “This is a shocking and inexcusable level of waste that could have been put to much better use in understaffed and overburdened hospitals and care homes. “
The combined £13billion cost to the taxpayer is higher than the £12billion that is set to be increased each year by the planned National Insurance hike in April.
Campaigners and MPs said the write-offs would enrage families facing rising taxes amid a cost of living crisis.
Pressed in the Commons yesterday over fraud failures, Chancellor Rishi Sunak was forced to insist the government prosecute ‘every’ suspect.
But Tory backbenchers said the revelations bolstered their opposition to the National Insurance hike.
“The vast amount of money that has been wasted on PPE calls into question the need for this tax hike,” said Andrew Bridgen.
“When we see waste like this, it just proves that the public service needs reform, rather than accepting the Blairite narrative that public services need ever more taxpayers’ money.
How taxpayers’ money was wasted on dodgy PPE deals
Hedge fund masks ‘not tight enough’
Ayanda – £253m
Around 50million FFP2 masks produced by Ayanda, which won contracts worth £253million, were ultimately not distributed because they had ear loops rather than head loops, which means they were unlikely to fit sufficiently.
The company said it delivered according to its contract.
Miami jewelers’ dresses had to be hung
Saiger LLC – £70 million
The use of ten million dresses, imported via Miami-based jewelry designer Michael Saiger, was suspended because authorities put the wrong packaging specifications on the contract.
The pest control company’s aprons were the “wrong size”
Pestfix – £350m
Officials are locked in a legal battle with Pestfix, a West Sussex-based pest control company, after a batch of tight-fitting FFP3 masks failed quality tests and six million aprons were rejected for use by the NHS because they were the wrong size.
The company delivered its batch of IIR masks, two million gloves and other products to contractual standards.
The ruined RAF flight
Selegna – value unknown
At the height of the pandemic, an RAF flight was sent to collect a shipment of 400,000 Turkish dresses, supplied by Selegna, which turned out to be useless.
Baroness Bra accused of sleaze
Medpro PPE – £203m
Tory colleague Michelle Mone has been accused of using her position to help PPE Medpro win a £203million contract, despite her and her billionaire husband having close ties to the firm.
Crate of PPE resold for £5
Clandeboye Agencies – £107.5m
A box of 250 items of PPE produced by Clandeboye Agencies, a candy wholesaler based in Northern Ireland, cost the taxpayer £1,000 but was resold at an online auction for just £5.
Clandeboye insisted that he deliver what was ordered at a competitive price.
The recall of the million masks
Polyco Health Line – £56m
One million masks provided by Polyco Healthline for intensive care departments had to be recalled because they met safety standards.
Polyco said the product “nearly failed” because the tests were only done on men.
Hancock’s boost for a furniture maker
Monarch Acoustics – £29m
Matt Hancock, then health secretary, made a series of ‘VIP lane’ recommendations for buying contracts, including Monarch Acoustics, a furniture maker.
The company had just £41,000 in the bank before the pandemic, but its £29m PPE deal helped it boost its profits by 4,700%.
It is understood that no concerns have been raised about the quality of the products.
I will continue to oppose tax increases at a time when the tax burden is the highest since the war and to call for the reduction of waste and inefficiency in the public sector.
Wes Streeting, Labor Health spokesman, said: ‘This is a shocking and inexcusable level of waste that could have been put to much better use in understaffed and overburdened hospitals and care homes . Money has been poured down the drain at a time when a record six million people are on NHS waiting lists.
Lib Dem health spokeswoman Daisy Cooper said the government was “inept”, adding: “They can’t be trusted with our money and they are totally out of touch.”
The official report reveals the Department of Health spent £12.1bn on PPE in the first year of the pandemic – April 2020 to April 2021 – but £8.7bn was wasted .
He estimated that £673m was spent on equipment deemed totally unusable and £750m on items that were not used before their expiry date.
Almost £2.6billion was spent on ‘items not suitable for use in the NHS’, while £111.5million was lost due to transport delays. Two flights from China had to be canceled due to a lack of stock availability, but the government still paid the £649,000 deposit to the airlines.
A further £4.7billion was lost as PPE stock declined in value after initial demand fell – and prices rose. The report said he had “left the Department open to the risk of fraud” and “unable to cope”.
Other PPE issues included failed quality tests, face masks ordered with the wrong buckles, and gowns the wrong size or sent in the wrong packaging.
Other losses recorded in the report include £1.1m on an undelivered order of ventilators “which did not fully meet functionality requirements at the time”.
Analysis by Gareth Davies, Auditor General of the House of Commons, acknowledged that Whitehall had been placed under “extraordinary pressure” by the pandemic.
But he said he “was unable to adequately manage some of the high risks, resulting in significant losses to the taxpayer”.
Among those who made small fortunes from PPE contracts was banker Tim Horlick who bought £253m worth of PPE in Asia after his company Ayanda was sped up by an adviser to the Minister for Foreign Affairs Liz Truss.
Pest control company Pestfix, whose owner Dan England was dubbed the ‘bird repellent’, had just £18,000 in the bank when it landed a £348million contract for PPE.
Several contracts worth £679million have gone to Anthony Hazell, a 36-year-old from south-east London, despite having an interior design background.
The Daily Mail’s historic Mail Force campaign played a crucial role in the crisis by delivering much-needed PPE to the frontline as care home staff and hospitals struggled to get supplies.
The Department of Health defended its PPE strategy last night saying: ‘The supply of these vital items has helped keep our NHS open at a time of national crisis to provide a world-class service to the public. We seek to recover costs from suppliers where possible.
Officials pointed out that most of the losses were due to the decline in the value of PPE after the peak of the pandemic.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesperson said: “It is important to note that our priority during a pandemic is to save lives – that was the case at the start of this coronavirus outbreak.
“We are operating in a highly competitive global market with many countries imposing export bans and we were obviously looking to secure PPE for front line clinicians.
“We know that world prices have naturally changed significantly throughout the pandemic, with the market now returning to status quo and therefore the value of goods (is) falling.
“So, for example, we now estimate that the value of the aprons we bought is a third of what we paid for at the height of the pandemic. Our approach was justified because it was necessary to bring these aprons and other important pieces of PPE to the front line.
Meanwhile, MPs from the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Coronavirus were told yesterday that the Government had been scammed by ‘cowboy’ PCR test providers who had inflated prices during the pandemic.