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Public Accounts Committee: British taxpayers will be paying for Covid-19 ‘for decades’

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
The Covid-19 pandemic is set to have a decades-long depressive impact on the British economy

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to exact a heavy toll on the British economy and society, an influential group of MPs has warned that taxpayers will have to bear the costs of the government’s mismanagement “for decades”.

In two new reports, the House of Commons’ Public Accounts Committee (PAC) asserts the government’s response to the “crisis” has exposed British taxpayers to “significant financial risks”.

The PAC, which is comprised of a cross-party group of MPs, revealed that the estimated cost of managing the pandemic stood at a staggering £372 billion by May 2021.

PAC chairwoman Dame Meg Hillier said: "With eye-watering sums of money 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 PAC has highlighted the issue of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) to illustrate mismanagement and waste.

According to the committee, out of 32 billion items of PPE ordered by the Department of Health and Social Care, only 11 billion had been distributed, while 12.6 billion are stored as central stock.

This massive stockpile costs £6.7 million a week to store, with potential waste levels “unacceptably high” according to the PAC.

For his part, Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has said an independent public inquiry into the government’s handling of the pandemic will begin its work next spring.

But the PAC is scathing of the PM’s attempt to contain the growing furore over pandemic mismanagement, asserting that it was "clear that government cannot wait for the review before learning important lessons" and must instead present a Covid-19 recovery plan in the autumn spending review.

In conclusion, PAC chairwoman, Hillier, sounded the following warning: "If coronavirus is with us for a long time, the financial hangover could leave future generations with a big headache".

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