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Latest 03 March 2023

Government finally publishes missing £248m ventilator contracts and reveals it hired a firm to destroy unused equipment

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The Cabinet Office have finally published the remaining Covid Ventilator Challenge contracts – and the waste is shocking.

We have uncovered details of a new contract awarded by the Cabinet Office to a company called SameDay Plc to provide services that included the “destruction”, “dismantling” and “recycling” of ventilators – further adding to the mountain of waste generated from the government’s flagship ventilator programme.

In total, £277m was spent by the Cabinet Office procuring ventilators during the pandemic with an eye-watering £143m going to waste.

Back in February 2021, former Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, told Parliament that details of all Covid contracts were now “on the record”. A few months later, Cabinet Minister Julia Lopez claimed “all historical Covid-related contracts” had been published.

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Neither statement was true.

Last month, in response to us having taken the first step in legal proceedings, the Government admitted it had breached its own transparency policy in what it called a “regrettable oversight” – and it committed to publishing the 29 missing contracts.

In its response, Government Legal Department representing the Cabinet Office said:

“Our client is currently reviewing its compliance with the Transparency Policy in relation to the Contracts. As a result of this ongoing review, it has become apparent that information was not published in accordance with the Transparency Policy, which our client notes is a regrettable oversight. Consequently, our client will publish any outstanding information (subject to any redactions/exemptions that may apply) by 28 February 2023.”

This week, the Cabinet Office finally published the missing deals plus a handful of previously unseen contract awards. We can reveal:

  • Government awarded a £1.2m contract to SameDay PLC for the “destruction” of unused ventilators and equipment.
  • SameDay PLC were handed the deal in May 2020, requiring them to access sites owned by Dyson, BAE systems, Babcock and others. The Cabinet Office contracted the firm to collect, recycle, dismantle and destroy unwanted ventilator components. 
  • For the first time, the £6m contract awarded to TTP PLC, working in partnership with Dyson, has been published. The Dyson deal embroiled Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak in a lobbying row after Johnson personally assured Sir James that Dyson employees wouldn’t pay extra tax if they came to the UK to make ventilators.
  • The Cabinet Office also agreed a £5m ‘close down’ deal with weapons manufacturer BAE systems.
  • The £105m contract awarded to Penlon to supply 10,000 ventilators has also been made public.

The publication of these missing contracts is another win for transparency.

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