Bad loans and unuseable PPE behind estimates UK will be in debt for decades
Iolo ap Dafydd in London

UK taxpayers will bear the costs of the COVID-19 pandemic "for decades" according to two new reports published on Sunday.

Members of the UK Parliaments' Public Accounts Committee says the crisis has exposed people in Britain to "significant financial risks for decades."

The UK government debt is now over $3 trillion  – an eye watering 99.7 percent of GDP - a rate not seen since the early 1960s. Last month alone, the annual interest on the debt was $12 billion.

One example of future COVID-19 costs, according to the Public Accounts Committee , is that British taxpayers could be liable for an estimated $36 billion of bad loans, guaranteed by the government.


British taxpayers could pay the consequences according to the Public Accounts Committee. /AP

British taxpayers could pay the consequences according to the Public Accounts Committee. /AP


The cross-party committee of parliamentarians has a majority of nine Conservative members, and 7 from opposition parties. The chair, Labour MP Meg Hillier said, "With eye-watering sums of money spent on COVID measures so far, the government needs to be clear, how this will be managed going forward, and over what period of time."

The estimated cost of the government's measures in dealing with the pandemic since March 2020 had by May this year, reached $511 billion (£372 billion.)

The members of parliament also attacked spending on unusable personal protective equipment (PPE). There's concern, says the report, "that despite spending over $13.75 billion on supplies, the (personal protective equipment) stockpile is not fit for purpose."

At least 32 billion items of PPE have been ordered by the Department of Health and Social Care, but it's calculated by the committee and those who supplied evidence to it, that 11 billion had been distributed, while 12.6 billion are being stored in the UK as central stock.

This stockpile, is costing about $9.2m a week to store, with potential waste levels "unacceptably high." Meanwhile 8.4 billion items on order from other countries have still not arrived in the UK.

Up to last May, 10,000 shipping containers of PPE are still to be unpacked - but it's already known that 2.1 billion PPE items were unusable in medical settings. That wastage is equivalent to $2.75 billion of taxpayers' money.


There's concern that the UK miss-spent on personal protective equipment (PPE). /AP

There's concern that the UK miss-spent on personal protective equipment (PPE). /AP


The report lists six recommendations including that the Treasury and finance department of the government works much closer with the National Audit Office and be more transparent, to have a fully costed post COVID-19 recovery plan and explain by the autumn how to manage the risk to public finances.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has pledged there will be an independent public inquiry into government's handling of the pandemic - with an expected start date of Spring 2022. Many MP's want this inquiry to start sooner than that.


Soccer fans need to be fully vaccinated

Also, likely to generate debate are the discussions that Premier League soccer matches could only be open for fully vaccinated supporters. The rule could also be used for lower divisions and other sports like rugby union, and for seated events with a capacity of more than 20,000 people. It hasn't been decided yet according to some media reports, whether supporters who have not received both vaccination jabs could be barred from entry.

A government source is quoted as saying: "It's important that fans can continue to watch sporting events over the autumn, which is why we're exploring the role vaccines might play in this.

"This will not only allow full capacity stadiums but has the added bonus of incentivising people of all ages to go and get their jab."

The government minister for crime and policing Kit Malthouse hasn't denied hat the government is considering vaccine passports for large events, "we'll have to assess as we go over the next few weeks what we need to do next. 

"Because we are tracking this virus very carefully, we're at a critical moment in our release from COVID restrictions.”

There's been no comment by the English Football League so far, but contingency plans are being looked at. The Labour opposition party believes if the decision is implemented it could cause disruption. Their shadow sports secretary Jo Stevens says, "being double jabbed doesn't prove you aren't carrying the virus. Testing for access to venues would be more efficient."

On a more positive note, the number of new COVID-19 cases in the UK fell on Sunday for the fifth consecutive day, down to 29,173.

Search Trends