11 October 2020 — Good Law Project
The Government is keeping billions of pounds worth of COVID-19 contracts hidden from view. We know that the Department of Health and Social Care has awarded more than £11billion worth of contracts to private companies. Yet they have failed to publish the details of contracts worth more than £3billion. What has that money been spent on? Who has it been spent with?
The law requires the Government to publish details of contracts within 30 days of the award. The Government’s persistent failure to abide by this law makes it impossible for these contracts to be properly scrutinized.
The contracts that we do know about are serious cause for concern. Take PestFix. The company, which had no previous experience providing PPE to the NHS, has been awarded eleven contracts. But so far the Government has only published the details of one. The fact that the pest control specialists had to recall face masks they had supplied to other commercial clients suggests the Government may have good reason for wanting to keep the public in the dark on these particular contracts.
But we cannot allow the Government to evade scrutiny. That’s why, along with a cross-party group of MPs of Debbie Abrahams, Caroline Lucas and Layla Moran, we are suing the Government for their persistent failure to publish the details of contracts.
The law can be a powerful tool for accountability. We intend to use it to keep those in power honest.
Jolyon Maugham QC
Director of Good Law Project