Hancock defends ‘unbelievable’ range of private-sector deals during pandemic

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Secretary for health and social care Matt Hancock has defended what he called the “extraordinary broad range of companies” the government has employed during the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

The health secretary said that the government “had to” work with the private sector in its work tackling the virus.

He likened the Covid-19 testing programme to “building something that’s basically about the same size of Tesco in six months”.


The comments come after he was probed about a Sunday Times report which said that the Government had awarded £1.5 billion to companies linked to the Conservative party during the pandemic. Describing the government’s response as a “Covid Chumocracy” it claimed that:

friends of the Conservatives have played a central role in responding to the pandemic, securing high-profile positions and contracts along the way.

But Hancock suggested the story was not a “fair or accurate reflection” of the awarding of the contracts.

He told Times Radio:

Read on...

We’ve brought in an extraordinary broad range of companies and many of them who haven’t been working with Government before because we haven’t had a pandemic of this scale before.

So think about the testing capacity. It’s nothing to do with any political links, it’s all about building a massive testing capacity in this country that we haven’t had in the past.

And the need to do that at pace and build this half a million testing capacity that we have today. We built that almost from scratch.

So the scale of the operation – building something that’s basically about the same size of Tesco in six months – has been incredible. So we absolutely have had to work with the private sector to have this happen.

“We’ve been doing that as quickly and as effectively as we possibly could in what were very, very challenging circumstances.

‘Putting aside politics’

“In this pandemic we’ve completely put aside politics, it’s all about what can we do to keep people safe and get the country back on its feet.”

Hancock added: “We’ve worked with an unbelievable range of companies.

“We’ve brought in people from all across the country to help with this national effort – some of them I knew before, some of them I didn’t.

“That’s the nature of what happens when you bring in a huge range of people to help with what has been a massive challenge.

“And if you note down all the ones where there were previous contacts and don’t note down all the ones where there weren’t then of course you can give that sort of impression but it’s not a fair or accurate reflection of what went on.”

Lack of transparency?

Questions remain around the lack of transparency in awarding contracts. The Times article further noted that:

In normal times, ministers must advertise contracts for privately provided services so that any company has a chance of securing the work. A person’s connections are not supposed to help.

The government is also legally required to publish details of awarded contracts within 30 days, so the public knows how its money is being spent.

During the pandemic, neither has happened…According to Tussell, a data provider on official spending, Whitehall departments have taken an average of 72 days to publicise who has received money, meaning public debate has often moved on before decisions can be scrutinised.

You can read more on the government’s Test and Trace system here

Additional information via The Press Association

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  • Show Comments
    1. Posted on website today 17-11.2020
      Covid lockdown looms over Christmas
      JUST TO ASK THIS USELESS TORY HEALTH Minister Hancock + Boris
      Are you 2 going be taking the new Virus vaccine yes or no???
      WILL the Rest of all Govt parties within -H.O. Commons by taking the new Virus vaccine yes or no? -Will any Govt members becoming guinea PIGS for the New Vaccine yes or no? all we it only be tested on us JOE-public and Not any Govt party members?

      Posted on website 16.11.2020
      Boris Johnson’s self-isolation order overshadows agenda ‘reset’
      Well Boris
      you could join in the testing of the new Vaccine
      as you have already had the Virus in you SIR
      You should show us public that it is safe for us to use
      Remember Boris you and Hancock have been banging on about
      the new Vaccine in live interviews on LIVE T.V.
      So, Boris how about you plus your Tory party members (all of them)
      taking it before the rest of us public in the U.K.
      Boris + Hancock –including all Tory party members in LONDON
      Question below -I seek answers to Tory Govt.
      Q-1 what side effects could they be or may be in 4 + 6 + 8 +10 years’ time fame
      Q-2 Is fast testing safe yes or no??
      I as a public member wish to know the answer to my question
      above REPLIED TO BY form Tory Govt Health Minister Hancock + Boris.

    2. We all know that the Tories dodgy dealing is par for the course. But when we have to rely on the Sunday Times to hold them to account that says more about the state of journalism in this country which has become to put it mildly a propaganda machine used by its billionaire owners to keep the cash rolling in by supporting the only party that thinks its ok to give tax cuts to the wealthy whilst children go hungry

    3. So the only companies who know anything worthwhile about how to do anything must be donors to the Conservative Party. I thought knowledge was a social event spanning across the social spectrum. But if your raising horses or a dog for a winner why not think people can be treated the same? Breeding is everything I’m guessing for sooner or later you’ll have the animal [ public policy]you want?
      Narrow minded?

    4. The Government say they have spent over £150 BILLION on PPE since the start of the Covid outbreak. Considering the Aircraft carriers cost approx £8 billion each (max) and that that little purchase kept 20,000 people (skilled) fully employed for 6 years. I thought that £150 Billion sounded way over the top. So I am doing some homework. The Gov publish the PPE distribution figures weekly, from 25th Feb to present, well 18th October are the latest. During that period they have distributed 635,036,471 LLR face masks and 2,605,070,767 Gloves (counted in singles strangely enough) I have costed at the most expensive I could find, the cost for these items £158,759,117.75 for the masks and £169,329,550.00 for the gloves. A grand total of £328,088,677.00. That only leaves £149,719,111,323.00 to spend on the remaining items. I think that somebody is doing some stealing, don’t you?

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