Britain faces ‘decades of financial risk’ as £370bn pandemic bill mounts | Coronavirus

Taxpayers shall be left going through “significant financial risk for decades to come” as a result of of the degrees of emergency authorities spending on the pandemic, totalling greater than £370bn, a robust committee of MPs says in the present day.

In two separate studies, the all-party public accounts committee (PAC) paints a frightening image of the lasting financial pressure attributable to the primary 16 months of combating Covid-19, and says the federal government should not wait till after the official inquiry to study the teachings of what went unsuitable.

The MPs say that by this March the lifetime value of the federal government’s rescue measures had reached £372bn, government-backed loans had soared, and taxpayers had been left “on the hook” for an estimated £26bn of credit score and fraud losses from the bounce-back mortgage scheme for small- and medium-sized enterprises alone.

While Boris Johnson, has promised a public inquiry into the dealing with of Covid-19 it is not going to start till subsequent spring and can take years to finish, leaving the prime minister open to accusations that he desires to keep away from the reality popping out earlier than the subsequent basic election.

The PAC says, nonetheless, that the nationwide curiosity calls for understanding and recognition of the numerous shortcomings far sooner. The MPs say it’s “clear that the government cannot wait for the review before learning important lessons”.

They count on ministers to “set out a fully costed plan for recovering from the pandemic” within the autumn spending review, alongside a complete framework for managing the dangers to public funds ensuing from the Covid-19 response.

The committee additionally highlights worries in regards to the authorities’s readiness to battle Covid-19 and different illnesses sooner or later, saying it “remains concerned that, despite spending over £10bn on supplies, the PPE stockpile is not fit for purpose”.

Listing a listing of issues, the MPs discovered that as much as this May 32 billion gadgets of PPE had been ordered by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC). But of these solely 11 billion have up to now been distributed, whereas 12.6 billion are saved within the UK as central stock, and eight.4 billion on order from different components of the world have nonetheless not arrived within the UK.

The stockpile is costing the DHSC about £6.7m per week to retailer, the PAC says, with waste being “unacceptably high”. As of May, 10,000 transport containers of PPE nonetheless needed to be unpacked, having been ordered in 2020, and a pair of.1 billion gadgets had been discovered unsuitable to be used in medical settings.

As of May, 10,000 transport containers of PPE nonetheless needed to be unpacked. Photograph: Andrew Matthews/PA

Meg Hillier, chair of the PAC, mentioned: “With eye-watering sums spent on Covid measures so far, the government needs to be clear, now, how this will be managed going forward, and over what period of time.

“The ongoing risk to the taxpayer will run for 20 years on things like arts and culture recovery loans, let alone the other new risks that departments across government must quickly learn to manage. As well as monitoring procurement and its effectiveness through the next few years, the PAC will be watching this spending and risk for decades to come. If coronavirus is with us for a long time, the financial hangover could leave future generations with a big headache.”

While inspecting the effectivity of the federal government response, the PAC highlights severe staffing issues contained in the NHS, which have been introduced into focus by the pandemic. The service was already combating 40,000 nursing and 9,000 medical employees vacancies earlier than the primary lockdown in March final year. By September, six months in, greater than a 3rd of remaining nurses had been contemplating leaving.

The report warns that with the well being and social care workforces “under constant pressure”, affected person ready instances had been persevering with to extend and ready lists for non-urgent remedy had been rising considerably, storing up big challenges for the longer term.

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