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Government Covid contracts by-pass process, but failures demand more scrutiny

In a crisis we need quick thinking and resourcefulness. There’s no time to explain decisions. That’s the justification for the government by-passing scrutiny and transparency, but revelations about dubious deals with unqualified companies and political cronies stoke cries for better governance, and more democracy.

The latest in a succession of Covid purchasing failures reveals how two hand sanitiser contracts for £8.4 million were signed on behalf of the Department of health and social care with a dormant company, with only one director.

Further contracts were signed with separate Chinese firms for antibody tests that didn’t work and 50 million face masks were purchased that had the wrong ear loops, so they couldn’t be used.

A staggering £15 billion worth of contracts were signed in a belated bid to source PPE, but three of the biggest winners were unlikely companies specialising in pest control, a confectionery wholesaler and a private fund owned through a tax haven.

Full story in The Lowdown, 28 September 2020

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