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Latest 14 November 2023

PPE contracts worth £1.04bn ‘at risk’ of fraud and error

Almost 10% of PPE contracts signed by the Government show ‘some degree of dissatisfaction’, with storage costs for unused equipment currently running at £14m a month.
by Max Colbert

The Government has released figures showing that PPE contracts worth £1.04bn are currently deemed “at risk” of fraud and error.

Thirty-six of 394 PPE contracts signed by the department, with a value of £1.09bn, had “some degree of dissatisfaction”. An estimated £1.04bn of these are considered “at risk”: of the 3.9 billion items ordered but not distributed by June 2023, 386 million were held back due to “allegations of modern-day slavery”, 79 million were “expired”, and 749 million were deemed “not fit for any use”.

The Department of Health and Social Care also admitted spending an average of £14m a month storing unused PPE, with £13.7m spent in June 2023 and nearly £43 million across the relevant quarter. Between April 2020 and August 2021, the Government spent £677.6m storing excess PPE.

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The figures reveal the massive scale of these stocks. The Government holds enough gowns for 387 months at current usage rates, with 538 months of FFP3 masks and a staggering 886 months of eye protectors in stock – enough to supply the NHS for more than 73 years.

The department claimed the jump in storage costs of £700,000 between May and June was a “one-off” increase “due to the finalisation of all costs relating to PPE that was previously stored in China”.

Since January 2023, 265,800 pallets of unused PPE have been recycled or burned. This is in addition to the £10bn of PPE that went up in smoke between 2020 and 2021.

“These latest figures underline the lethal combination of corruption and incompetence that the Tories inflicted on us during the pandemic,” said Good Law Project’s Executive Director, Jo Maugham. “But there’s still no sign of anyone taking responsibility, or any serious action to pursue those who made fortunes while we were all suffering.

“At Good Law Project, we’re continuing our work to hold this crooked Government to account.”

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