UK Government overspent by £8bn on PPE in England, comparison with Wales reveals
The UK Government overspent by £8 billion on PPE in England, a comparison with Wales has revealed.
Wales only spent £300m on PPE but received £974m from the UK Government as its population share of England’s spending, suggesting that the UK Government spent more than double what was needed in England.
The figures were highlighted by Guto Ifan, a research associate at Cardiff University’s Wales Governance Centre.
It comes after auditors rebuked the UK Government Health Department after about £10 billion of spending on PPE was written off. The entire budget of some government departments had been spent on PPE that was not defective, not suitable, or not used in time.
Guto Ifan said that the comparison with Wales “allows another way of assessing the UK Government’s performance”.
“We can compare the UK government’s PPE procurement with that of another government in the UK which faced very similar circumstances at the same time – the Welsh Government,” he said. “The comparison is not flattering for the UK government.
“The latest estimate of PPE bought by the Welsh Government in 2020-21 is over £300m. Meanwhile, Wales received £874m (through the population-based Barnett formula) as a result of PPE spending in England.
“This difference represented a huge bonus for the Welsh Government budget, and it enabled higher support for businesses and local authorities during the pandemic.
“For the UK govt, had they spent at the same rate as the Welsh government on PPE, it would have saved at least *£8 billion* in 2020-21 – incidentally, similar to the losses reported in the Dept. for H&SC annual report.”
Shadow Deputy Leader of the House of Commons Jessica Morden drew attention to the disparity in spending in the House of Commons yesterday.
“The Conservative party defends all this by pointing to the extraordinary circumstances of the pandemic, but other Governments did not make the same mistakes,” she said.
“In Wales, the Auditor General saw no evidence of priority being given to potential suppliers depending on who referred them, and the Welsh Labour Government introduced legislation, the Social Partnership and Public Procurement (Wales) Bill, to ensure that procurement contracts are fully open and responsible throughout supply chains—a Labour Administration doing it the responsible way.”
This did not happen in Wales. £8.7bn loss on PPE in England – including PPE that could not be used – buried in a report. https://t.co/uBoCbQURUo
— Vaughan Gething (@vaughangething) February 1, 2022
Commenting on the findings, Gareth Davies, head of the National Audit Office, said that Covid buying by the UK Government had significantly increased the risk of fraud and that officials have not provided “adequate assurance that the level of fraud losses are not material”.
The accounts showed that £8.7 billion of the £12.1 billion spent on PPE in England in the early phases of the pandemic had been written off so far.
This included £670 million of “defective” equipment, £2.6 billion on supplies “not suitable” for the NHS, and £750 million on PPE that has passed its expiry date.
£4.7 billion was also written off the value of remaining stocks because the market price is now lower than what the UK Government paid.
Support our Nation today
For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.