China is paid millions to store our surplus PPE following spending spree during Covid pandemic
- The UK is spending hundreds of thousands of pounds to store PPE in China
- The Government has 17.7billion items of PPE, a sixth of which is stored in China
- The Government paid two companies £35million of public money to burn PPE
- They spent £12.1billion on PPE in 2020 but at least £8.7billion was wasted
The UK is storing three billion pieces of personal protective equipment in China, it has emerged.
The health department is spending hundreds of thousands of pounds each month to store the surplus PPE.
Health minister Maria Caulfield said this week the Government has 17.7billion items of PPE and more than a sixth is stored in storage units and warehouses in China.
It is thought to be worth more than £1billion and cost £5.8million in storage between September and December last year.
£4billion worth of unusable PPE will be incinerated altogether, according to a report from MPs last month
It means the Government sending millions of pounds each year to China, branded ‘cheques to China’ by the Taxpayers’ Alliance. The think-tank said the revelations will ‘shock’ taxpayers and urged the Government to sell or dispose of the excess stock.
The Department of Health and Social Care said its priority during the pandemic was ‘saving lives’. A spokesman said: ‘We have been reducing our logistics cost over time and continue to do so.’
But Taxpayers’ Alliance chief executive John O’Connell said: ‘These cheques to China for PPE storage will shock taxpayers.
‘Billions of pounds of PPE have already been written off, yet there is no end in sight.
‘The Government needs to sell or dispose of excess supplies and ensure taxpayers aren’t footing the bill for endless storage.’
Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting said: `Not only have the Conservatives wasted billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money on PPE that can’t be used, it is not even in the country.
Former Chancellor and Conservative party leadership hopeful Rishi Sunak said that China is ‘an enormous threat’ to Britain’s national security
‘Had the Conservatives not been so wasteful with public funds, they would not need to raise taxes on working people during a cost-of-living crisis.’
Overall the Government spent £12.1billion on PPE in the first year of the pandemic – from April 2020 to April 2021 – but it turned out £8.7billion was wasted.
This included £673million on equipment found to be totally unusable and £750million on items not used before their expiry dates. Among the unused PPE was surplus aprons, visors, hand sanitisers and goggles.
The Daily Mail reported in April the Government was paying two companies £35million of public money to burn PPE. And last month a report by MPs revealed as much as £4billion worth of unusable PPE will be incinerated altogether.
The revelation that Britain is spending millions of pounds to store PPE in China comes despite a Government review last year warning of the increasing threat the country poses.
The Government has 17.7billion items of PPE and more than a sixth is stored in storage units and warehouses in China, Health Minister Maria Caulfield said this week
At Sunday night’s Conservative leadership debate former Chancellor Rishi Sunak said he supported the report’s view that China is ‘an enormous threat’ to Britain’s national security.
And a report by think tank Civitas in May found the NHS was ‘dangerously over-reliant’ on China. The report found NHS dependence on Chinese imports tripled since 2019 after it went ‘cap in hand’ to Beijing during the pandemic.
China is the only other country in which the UK is storing unused PPE.
The Department for Health was asked to comment.
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