Category Archives: Contact tracing

Why are Tories hiding details of £37bn ‘Test and Trace’ boss’s meetings – on grounds of expense?

Useless: Tory money pit and expertise vacuum Dido Harding.

The hypocrisy is stunning. It seems clear that Dido Harding has done something embarrassing that Boris Johnson wants to hide.

That’s the only reasonable explanation for the Tory government’s decision not to honour a request for details of meetings she held with other people and organisations since taking on the job of running the ‘Test and Trace’ organisation that has cost £37bn so far.

The Tories are saying honouring the Freedom of Information request by the Good Law Project would cost more than the £600 permitted for such matters, but this is ridiculous; these details have been deliberately omitted from a schedule of all meetings held by Department of Health and Social Care officials, ministers and advisers on a quarterly basis.

We can only conclude that the government does not want us to know who Harding has been meeting, what they discussed, and how much money she spaffed away as a result.

£37 billion is an enormous amount of money. Some commentators have suggested that ‘Test and Trace’ is nothing more than a conduit through which the Tories are corruptly draining the public purse, pumping money into the hands of people who are already extremely rich, in order to make sure poor people who really need help are deprived of it.

This response from the government shows that it really has no answer to that.

One appropriate reaction might have been to refer the matter to the government’s anti-corruption champion – but that would be John Penrose MP, who happens to be her husband. People are having doubts that he’ll do his job properly, for some reason…

And they certainly aren’t accepting the Tory line on this:

Some have even gone for the nuclear option – denouncing Harding for a lack of credibility on a stellar scale:

The simple fact is that the government should have published details of Harding’s meetings and chose not to.

This has focused attention on them. People want to know who she met, what was said, whether any money changed hands (without going through the normal tendering process) and if so, how much.

The longer the Tories drag their heels, the worse it will be.

Perhaps Harding could save everybody the bother by going back through her diary and producing a list? That wouldn’t cost £600 or even 600 pennies.

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Johnson wants us to forget the £22 BILLION he wasted on ‘test, track and trace’. Why should we?

Not the NHS: Boris Johnson privatised the Covid-19 test and trace system, believing it would be a great advert for privatisation. Instead, it has become a millstone around his neck – so he is trying to forget about it, concentrating on his new project: messing up the vaccination programme.

Boris Johnson’s recent speeches make it clear that he is pinning all his hopes for the defeat of Covid-19 on the recently-approved vaccines. Some hope!

He seems to have a pathological urge to interfere. So after Pfizer made it clear that vaccination consists of two doses of the same drug, three weeks apart…

… Johnson had to stick his oar in and demand that the jabs must be three months apart. Then he said the second injection might be of a completely different vaccine that works in a completely different way (after Oxford/AstraZeneca was approved). Now he’s saying people might only get a single injection.

He’s chasing positive headlines and the approval ratings that he thinks will come with them if he’s able to show that large numbers of the population have been injected. Fat chance!

The issue here is immunisation, not injection. The people who have had the vaccine might as well have been injecting heroin for all the good it will do them if they don’t get the booster shot of the same vaccine three weeks later.

They certainly won’t be immune to Covid-19 – in any of its forms – if Johnson gets his way.

His obsession with the vaccine indicates that he has turned his back on what was formerly the Great White Hope of his anti-Covid campaign: test, track and trace.

No doubt he hopes we will all do the same. Again, fat chance:

In fact, Johnson has now spaffed £22 billion on the scheme which was handed to private companies including the discredited Serco under the government’s emergency procurement system (meaning there was no process to find the best possible choice), to be run by former jockey and failed businesswoman Dido Harding (who is ironically married to the Tories’ anti-corruption chief).

Johnson’s hope that this would be swept under the carpet is forlorn. We already know that the system has been a catastrophic failure. According to The Guardian,

The government’s test-and-trace programme to combat Covid-19 in England has repeatedly failed to meet targets for delivering test results and contacting infected people despite costs escalating to £22bn, a damning official report has revealed.

The National Audit Office (NAO) has found that the centralised programme is contacting two out of every three people who have been close to someone who has tested positive, with about 40% of test results delivered within 24 hours, well below the government’s targets.

The report said a target to provide results within 24 hours of in-person testing deteriorated to a low of 14% in mid-October before rising to 38% in early November.

Call handler contracts for those working on test and trace were worth up to £720m but many staff had very little to do, auditors said.

By 17 June, the utilisation rate – the proportion of time that someone actively worked during their paid hours – was 4% for health professionals and 1% for call handler staff, the report shows.

Utilisation rates remained well below a target of 50% throughout September and for much of October. This means substantial public resources have been spent on staff who provided minimal services in return.

Tory Chancellor Rishi Sunak went on the record to say public borrowing has to be reined in after the huge amount of expenditure related to Covid-19. This was before Johnson announced the so-called “Lockdown 3” and he had to shake the Magic Money Tree for another £4.6 billion to help businesses survive the next seven weeks.

Perhaps he should take steps to claw back the UK public’s £22 billion that was thrown away on a “test, track and trace” system that not only did not work but, it seems, was never serious in even trying?

Perhaps he should claw back the hundreds of billions that he and Johnson spaffed on other contracts, using their now-notorious “fast-track” procurement system to hand huge contracts to relatives of Tory donors or personal friends running cowboy operations, while ignoring bids by people with genuine expertise?

But no. There’s no hope of that happening!

It would require common sense – and there’s no sign of that in the Johnson government.

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Is it too early to demand an investigation into the naked Covid-19 cronyism that has cost so much cash – and so many thousands of lives?

Two-fingered salute: this will be the likely response if we ask Boris Johnson politely for an inquiry into his procurement methods for Covid-19-related equipment and services.

Listen to the following video from our old friend Jeremy Corbyn:

He’s right about the cronyism. The New York Times – a US newspaper and one from a country that supports private enterprise over socialism – recently ran an article examining the phenomenon.

Its findings were an indictment against Boris Johnson and his ragtag gaggle of freeloaders, for whom the phrase, “We’re all in it together,” actually means, “Everyone for themselves!”

Under the heading Waste, negligence and cronyism: inside Britain’s pandemic spending, the paper stated: “In the desperate scramble for protective gear and other equipment, politically connected companies reaped billions.”

It began: “When the pandemic exploded in March, British officials embarked on a desperate scramble to procure the personal protective equipment, ventilators, coronavirus tests and other supplies critical to containing the surge.

“In the months following those fevered days, the government handed out thousands of contracts to fight the virus, some of them in a secretive “V.I.P. lane” to a select few companies with connections to the governing Conservative Party.”

The paper said it analyzed the roughly 1,200 central government contracts that have been made public, together worth nearly $22 billion (£16.28 billion):

About $11 billion [£8.14 billion] went to companies either run by friends and associates of politicians in the Conservative Party, or with no prior experience or a history of controversy.

Meanwhile, smaller firms without political clout got nowhere.

It said the procurement system was cobbled together during a meeting of anxious bureaucrats in late March, and a wealthy former investment banker and Conservative Party grandee, Paul Deighton, who sits in the House of Lords, was later tapped to act as the government’s czar for personal protective equipment.

Eight months on, Lord Deighton has helped the government award billions of dollars in contracts –– including hundreds of millions to several companies where he has financial interests or personal connections.

It looks like we should start making a list of names in advance of a future corruption inquiry, and this Lord Deighton should be at the top of it!*

That’s if we ever get all the information…

Citing the urgency of the pandemic, the government cast aside the usual transparency rules and awarded contracts worth billions of dollars without competitive bidding. To date, just over half of all of the contracts awarded in the first seven months remain concealed from the public

The paper mentions some of the firms with Tory connections that received funding:

Uniserve Group: Awarded $1 billion in PPE contracts, the company is among the biggest winners. Its founder is an adviser to a pro-Brexit think tank panel chaired by two prominent government ministers.**

Randox Laboratories: Awarded $646 million in testing contracts. Owen Paterson, a government minister [and another name for our list], is a paid consultant for the firm.**

Deloitte: Awarded a contract to consult on PPE procurement retrospectively and without competition. The company has made non-cash donations to the Conservative Party and others.**

Around $6 billion went to companies that had no prior experience in supplying medical personal protective equipment. Fashion designers, pest controllers and jewelers won lucrative contracts.

PPE Medpro: This company won its first contract barely three weeks after it was set up. It went on to win nearly $274 million in PPE contracts.**

Ocean Footprint: The marine equipment supplier was awarded a $7 million contract without having any prior experience in supplying medical PPE.**

PestFix: The pest control supply firm won more than $470 million in PPE contracts. It supplied 600,000 face masks that could not be used for their original purpose.**

More than $5 billion was awarded to companies with histories of controversy, from tax evasion and fraud to corruption and human rights abuses.

KPMG: Its UK arm recently faced a negligence lawsuit over alleged accounting failures linked to the collapse of outsourcing giant Carillion.**

Serco: Awarded $285 million for testing and contact tracing. The company admitted… defrauding the government and paid a $30 million fine in 2013.**

Honeywell: Embroiled in two global bribery probes. The UK PPE czar is a shareholder.**

All of the companies named by the NYT have denied wrongdoing, and there is no evidence to suggest that government officials were engaged in illegal conduct.

But there is ample evidence of cronyism, waste and poor due diligence. Some of it has been documented by the British media, but the scale of the problem is wider than previously known.

Officials ignored or missed many red flags. Dozens of companies that won a total of $3.6 billion in contracts had poor credit, and several had declared assets of just $2 or $3 each. Others had histories of fraud, human rights abuses, tax evasion or other serious controversies. A few were set up on the spur of the moment or had no relevant experience — and still won contracts.

The paper contacted the Department of Health and Social Care, which led the Tory government’s pandemic procurement. In denial of all the evidence, a spokesperson said that “proper due diligence” was carried out for all contracts.

How can it have been?

Did this person mean that they ran all the necessary checks, saw the information that showed the firms were not suitable to receive these huge contracts (and this huge responsibility), and handed over the cash anyway?

If so, then the government was negligent. Considering the system as described here, this seems likely:

Junior staffers reviewed thousands of proposals and passed on a chosen few to their bosses, who often had only a day to sign off on contracts, according to a government official involved in the process. Some businesses said they were left waiting months as their proposals went unanswered. Others said it was difficult to keep up with what the government wanted, with safety specifications sometimes changing after deliveries had already been made.

Normally, companies would bid on individual contracts with requirements published in advance. But given the government’s frenzied need for supplies, most companies simply submitted broad proposals through a government website. Government officials then decided yes or no, or in some cases approached companies themselves.

The race to procure PPE – Personal Protective Equipment – is a very clear example (and a sore point for the government).

The necessity to have such equipment easily available in readiness for the arrival of a pandemic infection like Covid-19 was highlighted by Exercise Cygnus in 2016 – the Tory government’s own simulation of the effect of a pandemic on the UK which predicted that the NHS would collapse due to lack of resources – and by top medical journal The Lancet, which published a direct warning to Boris Johnson that he needed to secure “supply chains of pharmaceuticals, personal protective equipment, hospital supplies and the necessary human resources” on January 24.

Johnson ignored the warnings. In fact,

Ministers could have avoided the panicked spending spree, critics said, had they not ignored their own pandemic preparedness plan and sold off stocks of P.P.E. from rainy-day reserves in the first three months of the year.

So the government’s claim that

the huge global demand for P.P.E. had created “a highly competitive market” and that it used “the quickest and most accessible routes” to buy protective gear

appears to be nonsense.

Having given way his own supply of PPE, Johnson then had to scrabble to buy some back. You can bet he had to spend more doing this than he raised from the sale, too – those are the laws of supply and demand and as a Tory, he should have known such things. But his people’s behaviour was actually worse:

In choosing speed over due diligence, however, ministers squandered millions on “unsuitable” items, including some that did not meet safety standards, according to the National Audit Office.

The government said that only a tiny portion of the supplies, 0.5 percent, had been found unfit for their intended uses.

Yes, but then the government said it followed due diligence in awarding contracts to unsuitable firms as well, so its people are hardly to be trusted.

The VIP lane

As if the above information wasn’t bad enough, Matt Hancock (another name for our list) secretly authorised a so-called “VIP lane” for favoured companies to win procurement contracts, in April.

These firms

proved to be 10 times more likely to win contracts than those outside that group, according to the National Audit Office.

The government did not carry out systematic company checks, including for potential conflicts of interest, until it had already spent nearly $2 billion, auditors found. Officials did not always document who recommended a company or why it was awarded a contract.

This site has already documented the story of Ayanda Capital. Awarded $340 million (£251.6 million) to supply personal protective equipment, it eventually delivered 50 million masks worth more than $200 million (£148 million) that could not be used for their original purpose, because the ear loop fastenings did not match the government’s new requirements.

One of the firm’s senior board advisers was Andrew Mills (another name for our list) who also worked on the government’s Board of Trade, meaning there was a clear conflict of interest even though we don’t know what part he played in the awarding of the contract, if any.

Ayanda has said the masks met all the government’s requirements when the order was placed and – considering the evidence that requirements were likely to change after contracts were signed – it is entirely possible that this is true. It is the fault of Boris Johnson and his government that this process failed. They chose to employ firms that were unable to provide the equipment that was needed.

Meanwhile,

many companies and business people, often better qualified to produce P.P.E. but lacking political connections, had no access to the V.I.P. lane. Multibrands International, a British manufacturer that had been producing P.P.E. for China since December, was among them. Its owner, Rizwana Hussain, spent months trying to reach government officials through public channels.

Ms. Hussain had offered to supply the government starting in March, her emails show. She was still at it in early May when news broke that 400,000 protective gowns that the government ordered from Turkey had proved to be unusable. “I was so upset thinking, ‘Why are we listening to these disastrous happenings when we’re here and are offering our help?’” Ms. Hussain said.

She said that although her company could produce large quantities of P.P.E. at its factories in China and India, she never heard back from the government.

Government officials said the high-priority lane was set up to efficiently prioritize credible offers of PPE for the National Health Service, and that all proposals, whatever channel they went through, were assessed by the same standards. Does anybody really believe that?

But they have not released the names of the nearly 500 companies that made the V.I.P. list., fuelling questions of cronyism.

It seems clear there is enough evidence here – or lack of it, in many instances – to justify an inquiry. This Writer, being a lay person, is unsure what form such an investigation should take. Judicial review? Public inquiry? Perhaps somebody with more specialised knowledge could let us know.

We already know that Johnson will try to brush this scandal under the carpet (his carpets must be bulging with the amount of mess he has hidden beneath them).

It is our responsibility to ensure that he doesn’t get away with it.

*The New York Times had quite a lot to say about Lord Deighton:

Two of the contracts linked to Lord Deighton were P.P.E.-related. One, for $78 million, was awarded to Honeywell Safety Products, a subsidiary of Honeywell International, a company he holds shares in.

Lord Deighton is also a shareholder of AstraZeneca, the British pharmaceutical company that is developing a vaccine with Oxford University, and was awarded $205 million for test services.

He also holds shares in the consulting firm Accenture, which was awarded a $5.6 million contract to help develop England’s ill-fated contact tracing app and detect fraud in procurement. Another company he has a stake in, UBS, won $770,000.

Neither Lord Deighton nor the companies would divulge the size of his share holdings.

A $406,000 contract was awarded to a consulting firm, Chanzo, to help set up and run the P.P.E. procurement system, including providing a chief of staff for Lord Deighton.

Chanzo’s founder and chief executive, Jean Tomlin, is a long-time business associate of Lord Deighton, and worked with him on the Olympic committee. Ms. Tomlin is also a fellow director at Hakluyt, a corporate intelligence firm founded by former British intelligence officers, which Lord Deighton chairs.

Lady Alison Deighton, his wife, is a former director of N.M. Rothschild, which won a $770,000 contract for consulting services. Another consulting contract of the same value went to Moelis & Company, an investment bank where one senior adviser and Labour peer, Lord Charles Allen, was also on the Olympic committee board with Lord Deighton.

** The article also provides the following information on the companies it names:

PestFix said it had repurposed its business during the pandemic to supply medical P.P.E. and said the government changed its specifications after it had supplied the face masks. PPE Medpro said that it was awarded contracts based on the considerable experience and expertise of its staff. Uniserve Group said that its director had no connections to the Conservative government. Deloitte said that its U.K. arm does not give cash contributions to political parties. Ocean Footprint said it had previously sold masks to the boat-building industry. Serco said that it “took significant steps to reform itself” after the 2013 fraud scandal. Randox Laboratories did not respond to questions and Owen Paterson declined to comment. All other companies mentioned in the article either declined to comment or did not respond to questions.

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Piers Morgan nails Matt Hancock on live TV as government ends GMB boycott: ‘Why haven’t you resigned?’

Matt Hancock on GMB: when he wasn’t doing his nodding dog routine, he was avoiding answering questions about his many failures over the 200+ days since any government minister has been interviewed on that programme.

After the mauling he took, Matt Hancock probably wishes the boycott imposed on ITV’s Good Morning Britain by former Tory Comms boss Lee Cain was still in place.

It isn’t; Cain is history – and presenter Piers Morgan was determined to go over all the history he could not discuss with government ministers during the more-than-200-day boycott.

It wasn’t pretty. But it was very entertaining:

Hancock tried to defend himself by raising his record on testing for Covid-19:

“On testing, we’ve hit each of the targets that I set – half a million tests a day capacity now. And I’m here to tell you we’re going to double that over the next few months.

“That means we can use testing in order to find where the virus is and crucially we’ve got those turnaround times down and people can isolate if needed.”

So Morgan examined the government’s pitiful record:

By now, if you’ve watched both clips, you’ll have realised what Hancock was doing:

He was avoiding the questions.

If he thought we wouldn’t notice, he was wrong:

Hancock hadn’t done any better with the BBC, where he had been interviewed on Breakfast News. There, he had been asked to defend a photograph of prime muppet Boris Johnson ignoring social distancing with MP Lee Anderson, who then tested postive for Covid-19.

Johnson is now self-isolating in his Downing Street flat, during a week that is crucial for the UK’s trade negotiations with the EU.

Here’s what Hancock said:

It was just a lot more evasion.

The simple fact is that while we all have the same rules, Boris Johnson simply doesn’t think they apply to him. If Downing Street has Covid-secure rules, they don’t mean anything if Tories don’t follow them.

At one point, Hancock said Johnson followed them, which is a flat-out lie.

Source: Piers Morgan asks Matt Hancock why he hasn’t resigned as Tory admits ‘mistakes’ – Mirror Online

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50,000 dead overall, 33,000 infections IN ONE DAY – and the news is all about Dominic Cummings

Dominic Cummings: he wouldn’t go for a good reason when this shot was taken in the summer, but if the possibility of him quitting distracts us from the UK’s coronavirus horror show, it suddenly becomes headline news.

It seems there is a national media agenda to pull the wool over our eyes.

Covid-19 reached a new height in the UK yesterday. The country became the first in Europe to record more than 50,000 official (remember that) deaths…

(Oh, and by the way…)

Those official figures also show that 33,470 new cases of the virus were recorded, compared with 22,950 on Wednesday…

And the number of fatalities in a single day has reached 595:

Meanwhile the test-and-trace fiasco continues unabated:

And plans to immunise us all against Covid, using the new vaccine, mean some of us won’t get our shots for another 36 years:

And what’s the headline on the news?

What’s going on? Why are the news media blithering about soap-opera shenanigans in Downing Street rather than telling us what we need to know about the virus that is raging through the UK like wildfire?

(I think he means the pain of the victims. Spellchecker can be a burden.)

The question is, are we all being distracted from the horror of the virus and the failure to cope with it by Boris Johnson and his fellow incompetents?

If so, it isn’t working.

Do they really think we’re so stupid we haven’t realised what is happening on our own streets?

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Dido Harding’s evidence to MPs shows why Tories shouldn’t give jobs to their cronies

The head of Serco – not NHS – Test and Trace demonstrated the failures, not only of her fake Covid-19 response organisation, but of the system that allows Conservative ministers to appoint their buddies to important jobs – just by turning up to talk about it.

Dido Harding – whose qualifications to run a business charged with contact tracing people who may have Covid-19 include having been a jockey and failing to run a telecoms/internet supplier – duly made a fool of herself before a joint meeting of Parliament’s health and social care committee and science and technology committee.

This Writer didn’t see the session so I’m relying on information from Twitter sources – and it isn’t flattering:

It’s a good point to make because the private firms do not come up to the standard of service we expect from the NHS – and that the NHS would provide.

So now we see not only that private companies are being paid a hell of a lot of money to provide very little, but also that the public authorities that have had to take up the slack and actually do something are not receiving any of this funding to do it. What a bare-faced charlatan Ms Harding was showing herself to be.

Worse was to follow:

The conclusion? Some commenters resorted to satire:

But many drew the obvious conclusion – as epitomised here:

That’s right – and Boris Johnson, together with his colleagues in the Conservative government that he heads, is responsible for employing them, using a system that bypasses competitive tendering by claiming it’s an emergency and time is of the essence.

It is now a year since Boris Johnson was first made aware of Covid-19. He wasted four months pretending it wasn’t any reason for concern and then used that system to appoint personal friends of his who achieved nothing.

It’s time the madness was stopped and competitive tendering was reintroduced so we can clear out the cowboys and bring back the professionals.

And it’s time Johnson and his cronies were brought to book for their cavalier spaffing of our cash on know-nothing amateurs.

Strangely enough, it seems that’s exactly what is going to happen…

Source: Typhoid Dido proves fluent in management bollocks and contradiction | John Crace | Politics | The Guardian

As police get access to #trackandtrace data, the public swaps stories about #ToryLiars

A load of bull: how many people believe the childish chatter the Tories give us every day in place of facts?

Public patience with the lies of Boris Johnson’s Conservative government is running out.

The latest revelation of their duplicity – that supposedly confidential information provided by people who use the Tories’ silly ‘contact tracing’ app is being passed to the police – has triggered a wave of social media posts under the hashtag #ToryLiars.

Here’s the story that triggered it:

It states that there is a legal requirement for contacts of people who’ve had a positive Covid-19 test to self-isolate for 14 days, but fewer than 11 per cent are actually doing so.

Police are being given their identity details in order to chase up enforcement.

Reasons given for breaking self-isolation include believing there was no point isolating from strangers if you cannot properly distance from those in your household; not developing symptoms; or visiting shops or a pharmacy.

Obviously the second excuse is made by idiots; we’ve already been told symptoms may develop over a period of up to 14 days, so failure to see them before the full period is over is no excuse for ending self-isolation.

But the point about not isolating from strangers if you can’t isolate from other members of your household who don’t have to self-isolate under Tory government rules is a good one. I have said before that, if symptoms develop, then the housemates may have spent many days merrily spreading the virus.

And my own knowledge of friends and family who were told to “shield” from the virus by isolating themselves while healthy is enough for me to understand why people have been forced to give up self-isolation to buy food and/or seek medication.

It isn’t a failure of intelligence because it was easy to see these problems coming and while I do believe our government ministers are stupid, I don’t believe they were not warned. I think they chose to ignore those warnings and left people to struggle – and spread the virus.

You see, a partial lockdown is as useless as no lockdown at all, when you’re trying to contain a disease.

So the Tories have created a situation where their own failure to create proper conditions for self-isolation has created a need for police enforcement that should not be there.

The public know this and resent it. Hence the charge that the Tories have lied about the app’s confidentiality.

I know some have pointed out that no information on the app itself is being shared – just registration details – but of course people hand those details over in order to use the app so it is a very flimsy excuse.

The claim that this is a lie has led to further comments on other recent Tory lies. And there have been a lot of them:

Undoubtedly the list is lengthening as I type this.

Look up the #ToryLiars hashtag on Twitter and learn something.

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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#LevellingUp or #ToryCorruption ? Serco-employed test and trace managers take £1.5m per year

Not the NHS: Boris Johnson privatised the Covid-19 test and trace system, believing it would be a great advert for privatisation. Instead, it has become a millstone around his neck – so he refers to it constantly as “NHS test and trace” in the hope that people will blame the nationalised health service that has nothing to do with it.

The Serco Test and Trace scandal gets worse and worse; it has just been revealed that some employees receive £7,360 per day to pretend to find people with Covid-19 and trace their contacts.

That’s the equivalent of £1.5 million a year. These are people from companies with strong connections to the Conservative government, that won their contracts via an emergency system which avoids the normal tendering process.

And it has already been established that most contact tracing personnel spend their time playing computer games because they are not being given work to do.

City AM says,

Sky, citing leaked documents, reported that the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has paid BCG around £10m. That was for a team of 40 consultants to work for four months on test and trace.

BCG’s “day rates” for public sector work – which determine the cost of its service – range from £2,400 to £7,360 for its most senior employees.

The report said BCG is giving the government a 10 to 15 per cent discount. Although this would still equate to day rates equivalent to around £1.5m a year.

BCG declined to comment.

Sky also said that 165 more consultants had been hired to work on test and trace. They include 84 from Deloitte, 31 from EY and 50 from KPMG.

So much for Boris Johnson’s claim that he was “levelling up” the UK. Tory friends are being paid millions in public money while those who desperately need it are being starved.

While ministerial salaries are being frozen, all MPs are getting a pay rise of £3,300 per year – equivalent to around two-thirds of the current annual rate of Universal Credit for an adult aged over 25.

The lowest MP salary will be £85,291 per year. Compare that with nurses on £24,000. Who does the more important job?

What about care workers, who receive an excruciatingly-low £18,553 per year. Who does the more important job?

The Durham-based family of Boris Johnson’s adviser Dominic Cummings have been excused from paying £30,000 in backdated council tax on houses they built without planning permission 18 years ago – while child poverty in the Durham North constituency has rocketed by nine per cent – to total one-third of all children living there – in the last four years… after housing costs were taken into account,

The social media are seething with discontent:

I think the following three tweets put the current situation in a nutshell, using the current northern lockdown as an example of Tory corruption at its worst. First, let’s set the scene:

Now we can go into details with this excellent speech by Labour MP Dan Carden:

Lastly, let’s remember that there was an alternative – but people were steered away from it by liars in the mainstream media who shilled for the corrupt Tories instead. Now what, do you think, encouraged them to do that?

Source: Government paying test and trace consultants equivalent of £1.5m salary : CityAM

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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After This Site suggested it, Tories are letting experts tackle Covid-19 instead of their chums

I know. It’s just a coincidence.

But isn’t it interesting that, the day after This Site asked, “Don’t you agree that giving control of the response to Coronavirus back to people who actually know what they’re doing might turn the tide?” the Tories are talking about doing just that?

I had suggested, “Let’s see the Tories reopen the contract system to multiple tenders, with assignments of Covid-related contracts going to the firms best-suited for the work. Or – indeed – to the public organisations and authorities best-placed to handle it.”

Housing secretary Robert Jenrick made the admission that this will happen on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show today (October 11): “People who know their own community… are bound to be better than Whitehall or national contact tracers.”

Here’s the clip:

There’s an obvious question to be answered here:

Yes – why weren’t they used in the first place?

The obvious answer is that individuals within the Johnson government have corruptly and opportunistically used the pandemic as a chance to funnel cash to their fellow-Tory friends. Certainly there is a movement now to find out how much money has been wasted on so-called services that haven’t worked at all:

That question of wasted time is crucial because many people have died.

What happens if we find that those deaths happened because the Tories were giving money to their friends – for nothing – rather than to people who could actually keep that death toll down?

Will there be any accountability?

Or will Boris Johnson just shrug his shoulders, say “Now is not the time,” and forget about it?

For further information, here‘s the Mirror‘s piece.

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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Weekend Covid-19 infections leap to biggest ever figure after Dido Harding’s cowboys miss 16,000

The number of – recorded – Covid-19 infections in the UK leapt up massively over the weekend after it was admitted that Dido Harding and her mob at Serco Test And Trace failed to report nearly 16,000 between September 25 and October 2.

The 15,841 cases were then added to Saturday’s (October 3) and Sunday’s (October 4) figures to give (fabricated) totals for those days of 12,872 cases and 22,961 respectively.

And we were upset when the totals leapt to 6,000!

Cynically, the government left it to Public Health England – the nationalised NHS organisation – to report the failings, presumably in the hope that it would take all the blame before it fades out of existence to be replaced by a privatised “National Institute of Health Protection” run by… Dido Harding.

The writing is on the wall, and it says, “Abandon hope, all ye who trust in these.”

Labour’s Jonathan Ashworth tried to pin the fiasco on Death Secretary Matt Hancock, who does indeed have overall responsibility: “This is shambolic and people across the country will be understandably alarmed.

“Matt Hancock should come to the House of Commons on Monday to explain what on earth has happened, what impact it has had on our ability to contain this virus and what he plans to do to fix test and trace.”

But members of the public on Twitter weren’t going to let the person most directly responsible off the hook.

Here’s how this latest Tory disaster was reported there:

Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey was wheeled onto BBC Breakfast to defend the government and made a complete hash of it:

And Sky News revealed that bosses at Public Health England are not willing to accept the blame for Baroness Harding’s blunders:

They needn’t worry; we all know the score:

Yes, Tory incompetence costs lives.

But people weren’t willing to let Labour off the hook either.

After some Labour MPs finally dragged themselves into the real world by referring to the track and trace system as being run by Serco (after weeks of going along with the Tory lie that it was an NHS project), the public had this to say:

They’re not wrong.

We need better than this – from both sides of the House of Commons – or the Covid-19 disaster will be an apocalypse for the UK.

And I think that is a forlorn hope: they’re already doing the pathetic best they can.

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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