UK Government ‘Failed To Disclose’ Details On £4.4 Billion In Pandemic Spending

The British government failed to publish details on £4.4 billion (€4.88 billion) worth of coronavirus-related contracts it awarded to private companies, nonprofit The Good Law Project said Monday.

The organization launched legal action against the government for not publishing contract details last month together with three opposition MPs. Back then, it said that pandemic-related undeclared contracts amounted to £3 billion.

As part of the case, government lawyers in late October disclosed that the U.K. Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) had spent £17 billion (€18.84 billion) on coronavirus-related contracts to private companies since April.

The Good Law Project, working with data firm Tussell, on Monday said that the government has not disclosed details on £4.4 billion worth of pandemic spending.

U.K. law requires the government to publish details within 30 days of awarding a contract. But The Good Law Project says that on average, it has taken the government 78 days to publish details of pandemic-related contracts.

That’s prompted the organization’s founder, lawyer Jolyon Maugham, to warn of a growing “transparency gap.”

The DHSC told the Guardian that it could not comment on legal proceedings but added: “As part of an unprecedented response to this global pandemic we have drawn on the expertise and resources of a number of public and private sector partners. This is completely in line with procurement regulations for exceptional circumstances.

“We have been clear from the outset that public authorities must achieve value for taxpayers and use good commercial judgement. Publication of contract information is being carried out as quickly as possible in line with government transparency guidelines.”

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