The government has been accused of “negligence on an industrial scale” after it emerged it has spent in the region of half a billion pounds on useless personal protective equipment (PPE). It comes as a reminder that regardless of how Boris Johnson fares in the Sue Gray report, ‘partygate’ is far from his only ongoing scandal:
Sue Gray “update” with PM, not whole report at Police’s request
They say “redaction”
You say “censorship”
They say “protecting integrity”
You say “protecting Govt”
Integrity of investigation was shot when police refused to investigate wks ago
Evid deleted, witnesses contaminated
— nazir afzal (@nazirafzal) January 31, 2022
The Liberal Democrats warned against waste at a time when “pockets don’t run deep” after a parliamentary written question revealed that billions of PPE items in government stocks either cannot be used or are not currently needed. While you should always be wary of Liberal Democrats talking about ‘waste’ given their role in the disastrous austerity government, it’s unarguable that we shouldn’t be throwing money at personal ‘protective’ equipment that fails to protect. To make matters worse, this is all being revealed as the Tories prepare to raise national insurance on working people to improve the NHS’s financial situation:
This, from a joint article by Johnson and Sunak, is a simple lie. The National Insurance Contributions rise will in fact fall least on those who can most afford it. It is a tax rise that lets the mega rich off the hook. pic.twitter.com/KqKgUwwKWD
— Jo Maugham (@JolyonMaugham) January 30, 2022
Rishi Sunak is the wealthiest chancellor in history. He & his wife have been said to have joint wealth of over £630ml.
He thinks it’s the “right plan” to raise national insurance taxes in April.
He’s wrong. Taxing wealth, including his, is the right plan.
— Howard Beckett (@BeckettUnite) January 30, 2022
I've put a motion down in Parliament calling for the National Insurance hike to be scrapped – and replaced with a Wealth Tax on the richest 1%.
There is an alternative to this reactionary Tory tax on working people! pic.twitter.com/gQHc41uQWE
— Richard Burgon MP (@RichardBurgon) January 28, 2022
The question on waste, tabled by Lib Dem chief whip Wendy Chamberlain, asked for the amount of PPE purchased by the government that has not been put to use because it is unwanted or unusable, along with its total cost.
In response, health minister Edward Argar said the PPE programme has ordered over 36.4 billion items since March 2020, of which 3.4 billion units are currently identified as “potential excess stock”, with a purchase price of roughly £2.2bn. In addition, a total of 6.96 billion items are not currently provided to frontline services.
This can be for a variety of reasons, including new stock that has not yet cleared assurance processes or where a different product is preferred.
Of these 6.96 billion items, the health minister said 1.2 billion – purchased for an estimated £458m – are “deemed to be not fit for use”. Quite what they are fit for or why we bought them is unclear. Perhaps we use them for comparison when buying stuff that works?
This is extreme negligence on an industrial scale. The Government is burning a hole in the pocket of the taxpayer through its wastage of personal protective equipment, at a time when those pockets don’t run deep.
As people are noting in response to the government’s ongoing fiscal fiascos:
Who said the @Conservatives are good with the economy?
The more you take from hardworking people, the less money they have to spend putting back into the economy.
#Tories aren’t running this country; they’re running it down!#CostOfLivingCrisis #NationalInsurance #FuelPoverty pic.twitter.com/7X8PdXqOZH
— April Dwyer (@apes147) January 30, 2022
A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care said:
We have been working tirelessly to deliver PPE to protect our health and social care staff on the frontline, with over 17.5 billion PPE items delivered so far.
Where we have surplus stock of PPE, we have a range of measures we can take, including sales, donations, re-use and recycling or recovering costs from the supplier. In addition, we are working on plans to extend shelf life where appropriate.
The eagle-eyed among you will notice this gives no clue as to how we ended up with so much unusable PPE.
Among the other scandals trailing behind Johnson like toilet roll from a buffoon’s trousers is the ‘VIP lanes’ affair:
REVEALED: Government wasted £437 million of your money on unusable PPE from just three VIP suppliers https://t.co/X0FrvbMBYQ
— Good Law Project (@GoodLawProject) January 28, 2022
The Government’s VIP lane for PPE procurement wasn’t just dodgy, it was actually illegal. That was not my opinion, but the judgment of a High Court yesterday.
Another ongoing scandal revolves around the billions in pandemic fraud that the government chose to write off:
Sunak & Johnson increase National Insurance whilst simultaneously allowing criminals to keep £4.3 billion of public money
Then we learn that the National Crime Agency (our FBI) offered to get some of the money back but were sent away by Treasury
Can anything shock us anymore? pic.twitter.com/hFoZZXwJ8E
— nazir afzal (@nazirafzal) January 29, 2022
The Gray report might claim that Johnson had no clue that the string of parties he allegedly attended were parties. Others might argue he had no idea about the ‘industrial scale negligence’ his government oversaw. If either of those things are true, however, then why the hell is this literal no-nothing being allowed to run the country?
Additional reporting and featured image via PA
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?