On a day when we discovered that companies recommended by MPs, peers and ministers’ offices were given priority as the government raced to obtain Personal Protective Equipment, the National Audit Office told us that over half of the £18bn spent on pandemic-related contracts was awarded without competitive tender.
What a surprise? The NAO said the government was not transparent about suppliers and services. It also found there was inadequate explanation of key spending decisions. The findings are part of an NAO investigation into government procurement during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Now, what’s the difference, apart from the scale of money involved, with local government? Transparency? Explanations? Bullshit? All happens in the West Lancashire borough. Beacon Park Golf Course?
More than 8,600 coronavirus contracts had been awarded by 31 July, ranging in value from less than £100 to £410m. Of these, £10.5bn-worth (58%) were awarded directly without a competitive tender process. Follow the money, find the crooks. Simple! Beacon Park Golf Course? Of course!
A judge said the health secretary had “breached his legal obligation” by not publishing details within 30 days of contracts being signed.
The public had a right to know where the “vast” amounts spent had gone and how contracts were awarded, he added. The government said it fully recognised the “importance of transparency”. But Labour claimed the government’s awarding of contracts was “plagued by a lack of transparency, cronyism and waste”. At risk of being repetitive, Beacon Park Golf Course? Probably!