UK Government Cannot Locate £3.6 Billion Of PPE Due To Administrative Error

Shola Lee

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UK Government Cannot Locate £3.6 Billion Of PPE Due To Administrative Error

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

The UK government has reportedly been unable to locate £3.6 billion worth of personal protective equipment (PPE) purchased in 2020.

According to the department of health's 2020-21 audit, there is no evidence of the PPE's 'existence or condition'.

The audit revealed that the missing sum could be due to inventory systems being 'unable to cope' with the rapid purchasing of PPE during the height of the pandemic.

Masks (Alamy)
Masks (Alamy)

Gareth Davies, the National Audit Office's comptroller and auditor general, said, 'The department was unable to perform stock takes or provide alternative evidence of the existence, valuation or completeness of inventory held at year end.'

Due to the 'limited' amount of evidence available to Davies, he said he 'was unable to obtain sufficient, appropriate audit evidence to support £3.6 billion of consumables inventory'.

Davies then proceeded to explain that it was likely an increase in pressure on inventory systems that prevented records from being maintained.

He said, 'The department’s inventory management systems were unable to cope with the significant, rapid increase in procurement and the Department did not maintain adequate records of the location or condition of £3.6 billion of inventory balances recorded in the accounts at the 31 March 2021.'

PPE (Alamy)
PPE (Alamy)

Due to this discrepancy, the audit noted that 'significant work remains to be done' to ensure that record-keeping is improved and that the same does not happen in the future.

However, Davies did also note that the PPE was also susceptible to a heightened risk of fraud, as the UK had given PPE contracts to companies with little experience during the pandemic.

He continued to say that that the 'significant increase in new suppliers, a lack of timely checks on the quality of goods received and poor inventory management all contributed to this heightened risk. In these circumstances… I have not been able to obtain assurance that there has not been a material level of losses due to fraud'.

Covid tests (Alamy)
Covid tests (Alamy)

This isn't the first time the department has come under fire during the pandemic.

In October 2020, a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet issue was allegedly responsible for the misplacement of 16,000 positive Covid results.

According to reports, the million-row limit on the spreadsheets caused the error, meaning that more than 50,000 people were not contacted by track-and-trace when they were potentially infectious.

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Topics: News, UK News, Health

Shola Lee
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