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Release of companies in ‘VIP’ COVID lane blocked by government

The National Audit Office (NAO) has been blocked by the government from revealing the names of companies that were directed to a ‘VIP lane’ to win lucrative COVID contracts. The NAO had found that firms referred to the high-priority list were ten times more likely to be given government contracts to supply personal protective equipment (PPE).

The media organisation openDemocracy had sent an FOI to the NAO requesting a list of the 493 suppliers in the VIP lane, however the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and the Cabinet Office stepped in to block its release. The NAO said the two government departments had “requested” that it keep the list of suppliers – which includes 47 suppliers that were awarded contracts – private because its release “would have a detrimental impact on both suppliers and [the departments’] own commercial operations”.

Full story – openDemocracy 20 May 2021

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