Govt could be forced to publish Covid PPE contracts

The government has failed to meet its legal obligations to provide details on contracts worth a total of £5.5bn.

2 Sep 2020| News

A cross-party group of MPs has begun legal action to force the government to publish the details of PPE contracts, sounding the alarm over what they claim is disproportionate secrecy surrounding the government’s Covid-19 response.

A pre-action letter signed by MPs from the Labour, Liberal Democrat and Green Parties, says: “Publication of the contracts themselves appears not to be happening in relation to Covid-19 contracts on a routine basis.”

Over 600 contracts for PPE with more than 200 suppliers, together worth over £5.5 billion, have not been disclosed, according to a Guardian report.

The government had promised to publish notices of contracts worth over £10,000 within 20 days of them being awarded, and by law it must do so within 30 days. But the letter claims there has been a “repeated failure” to follow these rules.

Suspicions were also raised after it was revealed that millions were spent by the government on PPE that could not be used.

Ayanda Capital received £252 million for 50 million masks that did not meet the standards required for use by NHS workers, the newspaper said.

“It is wholly unacceptable that as an MP I cannot put the government’s decisions to award these huge contracts under scrunity, and leds me to wondere what it is they have to hide,” Labour MP Debbie Abrahams, one of the signatories of the letter, said.