Ministers accused of ‘pitiful attempt’ to recoup taxpayers’ money wasted on fraudulent Covid contracts as Government so far retrieves just £18m from ‘hundreds of millions’ lost

  • The government has recovered just £18million lost in ‘high risk’ PPE contracts
  • MP Daisy Cooper called it ‘damning indictment’ of the Conservatives’ record
  • The Public Accounts Committee estimates £630million was lost in fraud or error
  • The Liberal Democrats are planning to table an amendment to ban ‘VIP lanes’

Government ministers have recovered just £18million of the hundreds of millions of taxpayers’ money believed to have been wasted on potentially fraudulent PPE contracts, it has emerged.

The efforts by the Department of health and Social Care to recoup funds lost on ‘high risk’ contracts has been described as a ‘pitiful attempt’ by one critic.

Health minister Will Quince confirmed the figure was correct as of December 12 and insisted the government was trying to ‘prevent loss’, The Guardian reports.

Liberal Democrats health spokesperson Daisy Cooper tabled the question to Quince which uncovered the recovered sum, which she described as a ‘damning indictment’ of the Conservatives’ record on ‘dodgy Covid contracts’.

The Government has reportedly recouped just £18million of the hundreds of millions signed off on potentially fraudulent PPE during the Covid crisis (Stock photo)

Health minister Will Quince confirmed the £18million figure was correct as of December 12 and insisted the government was trying to ‘prevent loss’

Cooper said: ‘These pitiful attempts to recoup the money lost is adding insult to injury. Conservative ministers must step up efforts to recover the money wasted on Covid contracts handed out to their wealthy friends and donors during the pandemic.’

The DHSC stated it had spent £12.6billion on PPE in a statement in January last year. Of this amount, 5 per cent is estimated to have been lost to fraud or error – representing £630million.

The funds were scrutinised by the Public Accounts Committee, which also determined that a stockpile of items worth £3.9billion was unnecessary. The committee found there was disputes involving more than 200 suppliers over £2.7billion worth of stock – much of it regarding the quality of the PPE.

The Lib Dems are planning to table an amendment to ban ‘VIP lanes’ – which see contracts directly awarded to firms without tender – ahead of the second reading of the procurement bill on January 9.

Cooper added it would stop ‘this staggering waste of public money from happening again’ by prevent MPs and peers granting preferential treatment in government procurement processes. 

VIP lanes have come under scrutiny since an investigation launched into the activities of Conservative Baroness Michelle Mone, who allegedly profited from pandemic contracts.

Liberal Democrats health spokesman Daisy Cooper (pictured) said:  ‘These pitiful attempts to recoup the money lost is adding insult to injury. Conservative ministers must step up efforts to recover the money wasted on Covid contracts handed out to their wealthy friends and donors during the pandemic’

Baroness Mone, the founder of a lingerie firm, has denied reports she benefited from PPE Medpro winning contracts worth more than £200million during the pandemic

Leaked documents show she and her children received as much as £29million after a company called PPE Medpro was referred for contracts to supply masks and gowns.

The firm was awarded £203million in two contracts after Baroness Mone recommended it to ministers at the beginning of the pandemic.

PPE Medpro is now being sued by the Government for breaching the terms of a £122million contract to supply 25million surgical gowns for medical staff.

The company said it would defend the civil lawsuit and the Department for Health had ‘vastly over-ordered’ PPE. But according to documents seen by the Financial Times, Mone’s husband Douglas Barrowman – who denies any wrongdoing – received £65million in profits from PPE Medpro.

In July, the Commons Public Accounts Committee criticised the Department of Health for taking little action against potentially fraudulent suppliers, despite an estimated 5% of PPE expenditure involving fraud.

The Department for Health spokesperson said: ‘We continue to sell, donate, repurpose and recycle excess PPE in the most cost-effective way, as well as seeking to recover costs from suppliers wherever possible to ensure taxpayer value for money.

‘We are also exploring innovative solutions to reprocess excess PPE into materials or new products that have further uses.’

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