The amount of public money wasted on unused and faulty PPE during the pandemic cost every household in the UK more than £310, new analysis has revealed.
In February, the government finally admitted that it had splurged a staggering £8.7 billion on overpriced protective equipment.
And Labour this week revealed that ministers are set to spend another £35 million paying private firms to burn or recycle surplus masks, aprons and gloves – with the government claiming it is cheaper to recycle PPE than store it.
The eye-watering total comes to £310 for every household in the UK, just as a cost-of-living crisis batters Brits.
‘Culture of cronyism’
Labour’s Angela Rayner accused the Tories of wasting “billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money on useless PPE that they’re now either burning or giving away for virtually nothing.”
She told the Mirror: “The Government might not need to raise taxes on working people in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis if they didn’t waste this much PPE.
“Ministers have a duty to get value and results when spending the public’s money, but Boris Johnson has created a culture of cronyism and waste throughout his government.”
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “Our priority throughout the pandemic has been saving lives, and we have delivered over 19.1 billion items of PPE to frontline staff to keep them safe.”
They added: “Having too much PPE was preferable to having too little in the face of an unpredictable and dangerous virus, given this was essential to keep our NHS open and protect as many people as possible.
“Now we are confident we have sufficient PPE to cover any future Covid demands, we are taking decisive action to save up to £93 million of taxpayers’ money per year by reducing storage costs for excess stock.”
It comes as Labour has called Boris Johnson’s involvement in the Partygate saga “indefensible” as fresh allegations emerged about the prime minister’s conduct.
The Sunday Times said Johnson is expected to deliver a statement when MPs return to the Commons on Tuesday, where he will not deny wrongdoing but will point towards the wider context, including the war in Ukraine.
But the newspaper also revealed fresh claims that Johnson was not only present at a leaving do for his former press chief but that he led the celebrations.
Johnson, his wife Carrie, and Rishi Sunak were all issued with – and paid – fines for attending a birthday bash held for the prime minister in June 2020.