PM quizzed on PPE contracts awarded 'without due diligence'

Will Green is news editor of Supply Management
14 September 2020

An MP has quizzed prime minister Boris Johnson on the procurement of personal protective equipment (PPE), claiming £1bn was spent on contracts “without proper due diligence”.

Rushanara Ali, Labour MP for Bethnal Green and Bow, said during prime minister’s questions: “£150m spent on faulty masks, £120m spent on contracts awarded to a Tory councillor and a staggering one billion pounds worth of contracts awarded without proper due diligence. Where has the money gone prime minister?”

Johnson replied: “There has been a massive investment in PPE throughout this pandemic and billions of items have been supplied. If she has a particular anxiety about some particular contract then I am more than happy to address that if she will take the trouble to write to me.”

In a follow-up letter to the PM Ali said: “We all understand the need for speed and the scale of the emergency, but this does not mean the normal conventions of procurement should be ignored completely, and especially when such large sums of taxpayers’ money are involved.”

Earlier in September it was claimed $130bn had been spent by governments worldwide in the first half of the year on contracts to manage Covid. The Open Contracting Partnership said a “lack of timely and open information about basic contracting details makes these deals highly vulnerable to waste, fraud and other misuses”.

In June research company Tussell said the UK public sector had awarded contracts worth £1.6bn in response to Covid, mostly without competitive tender after emergency procurement measures were put in place in March.

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