Ministers spent an astonishing £15 billion on personal protective equipment for frontline health staff during the coronavirus crisis as part of an extra £48 billion on public services.
The huge sum – which was spent on gloves, aprons and masks for hospitals and care homes in just over three months – is more than the annual budget of the Home Office.
It reflects not only the amount of protective equipment that was required at the last minute, but also the exorbitant cost charged by some suppliers.
The Government was criticised at the start of the coronavirus pandemic when it emerged that despite warnings, it had failed to stock up on PPE.
Ministers spent an astonishing £15 billion on personal protective equipment for frontline health staff during the coronavirus crisis as part of an extra £48 billion on public services. Pictured: Nurse Robyn Wilks wears PPE as she takes a blood sample from Ann Hilldrith, a patient at the Littlefield practice at Freshney Green Primary Care Centre in Grimsby
Documents released yesterday revealed that the Treasury had released £48.5 billion of additional expenditure on public services for the immediate response to the outbreak. Of this, £31.9 billion went to the NHS – including the £15 billion for PPE.
There was also £10 billion for the test and trace programme, which has been beset by problems.
A further £5.5 billion went on the hiring of private sector health facilities, delivering medicines to those who were vulnerable and shielding, and opening GP surgeries and pharmacies during bank holidays.
The money also went towards ‘enhancing the NHS discharge process so patients who were medically fit to do so can leave hospital quickly and safely’, and funding for domestic vaccines, research and development and manufacturing.
Another £4.7 billion of Treasury funding went straight to local government.
This included £3.7billion for social care and to deliver additional support to vulnerable people.
Schools received £1.2 billion of additional funding. This included support for pupils to catch up on lost learning, and a national voucher scheme to provide free school meals for children while at home.
Support for public transport amounted to £5.3 billion of targeted support for essential services, in addition to the economy-wide schemes.
The Government has also spent £10 billion for the test and trace programme, which has been beset by problems. Pictured: An NHS Test and Trace form is displayed at the entrance of the Regal Moon JD Wetherspoons pub on Saturday
It included £3.5 billion for rail services, £1 billion for services in London, and support for bus and light rail services across the rest of England.
The Treasury also approved £1.2 billion for other public services, including food packages for the most vulnerable shielders, and repatriation support for UK travellers stranded overseas.
The money also helped fund the Government’s coronavirus public information campaign.
Large amounts of extra money went to the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The Scottish government got £2.1 billion, the Welsh government received £1.3 billion and the Northern Ireland executive was handed £700 million.
Paul Johnson, the director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, said £15 billion on PPE was an ‘awful lot’ and ‘not far off the entire social care budget for a year’.