FAO: Jo Churchill MP
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State
6 August 2020
You will be aware that there are serious concerns about the Government’s mismanagement of the purchase of PPE during the coronavirus crisis and the subsequent waste of public money. Just this week, it was revealed that 50m face masks, bought as part of a £252m contract with Ayanda Capital, were unsuitable for use by NHS staff. This is just the latest in a catalogue of failed decision making which has seen 400,000 medical gowns from Turkey declared unsafe, and endless examples of Government supplied googles, masks and gloves returned by care homes and local authorities because they failed to meet the required safety standards.
One of my constituents has also shared this list of examples:
1. £186m of public money given to Uniserve Ltd of Essex, the UK’s largest privately owned logistics and global trade management company, to supply PPE that reportedly never appeared.
2. £116m of public money given to P14 Medical Ltd of Liverpool, which had liabilities exceeding assets by £485,000 in December 2019 with just £145 in the bank, for PPE that reportedly never appeared.
3. £108m of public money given to PestFix, with 16 employees and net assets of £19,000, for PPE that reportedly never appeared.
4. £14.2m and a subsequent £93.2m of public money given to Clandeboye Agencies Ltd, a confectionery wholesaler in Co Antrim, for PPE that reportedly never appeared.
5. £40m of public money given to Medicine Box Ltd of Sutton-in-Ashfield, despite having assets of just £6,000 in March, for PPE that reportedly never appeared.
6. £32m and a subsequent £16m of public money given to Initia Ventures Ltd, filed for dormancy in January this year, for PPE that reportedly never appeared.
7. £28m of public money given to Monarch Acoustics Ltd of Nottingham, makers of shop and office furniture, for PPE that reportedly never appeared.
8. £25m of public money given to Luxe Lifestyle Ltd, to supply garments for biological or chemical protection to the NHS. According to Companies House, the business was incorporated by fashion designer Karen Brost in November 2018. It appears to have no employees, no assets and no turnover.
9. £18.4m of public money given to Aventis Solutions Ltd of Wilmslow, with just £322 in assets, for PPE that reportedly never appeared.
10. £10m of public money given to Medco Solutions Ltd, incorporated on 26 March (three days after lockdown) with a share capital of just £2, for PPE that reportedly never appeared.
11. £1.1m of public money given to Bristol shoemaker Toffeln Ltd, had seemingly never supplied any PPE whatsoever in the past, for PPE that reportedly never appeared.
12.£825,000 of public money given to MGP Advisory, described as a venture and development capital business that was in danger of being struck off the companies register for failing to file accounts. – it’s not clear what they were supposed to provide.
I would like your response to address each of these instances in turn please, and provide a direct confirmation of a) whether or not the PPE procured has been supplied and b) is fit for purpose.
I am aware that a Government spokesman has said the following in response to the news about Ayanda Capital : “Throughout this global pandemic, we have been working tirelessly to deliver PPE to protect people on the front line.
Over 2.4 billion items have been delivered and more than 30 billion have been ordered from UK-based manufacturers and international partners to provide a continuous supply, which meets the needs of health and social care staff both now and in the future.
There is a robust process in place to ensure orders are of high quality and meet strict safety standards, with the necessary due diligence undertaken on all government contracts.”
I do not wish to receive a reply that simply restates this position. To be clear, I would be grateful if you would directly respond to each of the examples cited above and clearly indicate whether usable PPE has been forthcoming.
Whilst I understand that acting with speed and asking businesses to diversify were key elements of the Government’s PPE procurement strategy, I am sure you will be aware that the awarding of contracts to companies with no record of supplying PPE has prompted legitimate concerns about due diligence. This is especially valid given 73 per cent of the UK’s PPE contracts went through without any competition.
I’d therefore also welcome your honest views on whether public money has been spent responsibly when it comes to PPE supplies, as well as your response to the specific contracts referred to above.
I look forward to hearing from you.